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September 17, 2013, Washington D.C. - Today, Americans from a diverse array of religious backgrounds will join together, led by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, to call on their senators to support common-sense legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination. Among the nearly 50 participating organizations are the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., the Progressive National Baptist Convention (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s denomination), the Islamic Society of North America and the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jewish denominations.
Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners stated:
"People of faith should support legislation that works to ensure equal protection under the law for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our scriptures call on us to work for what is fair and what is just, and ENDA takes us a step closer. At the same time, I believe it is critical for religious institutions to maintain the ability to hire those who share their faith and beliefs and I am encouraged this legislation would allow for that exemption."
Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he is bringing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the floor for a vote this fall- the first Senate vote on the bill in 17 years. ENDA passed this past July in the Senate HELP committee with bipartisan support.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, with a history of bringing together unique coalitions of religious, moral and civil leaders in the pursuit of social justice, created the Faiths Calling Day to join together a range of religious groups in support of key issues of concern. The first Faiths Calling mobilization occurred in Spring 2012 and generated thousands of calls to congressional offices in support of action on gun violence prevention.
"Our moral imperative to build an equal and fair society demands that we eradicate discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans in the workplace." said Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Center, addressing the common religious tenants that encourage these diverse denominations to advocate on this cause: "We can all agree on the fundamental premise that every human being is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and to be judged on the basis of their work in the workplace."
Rev. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore Sr., President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, reminds us:
"Jesus was 'filled with compassion' concerning the plight of the people and taught us that compassion is more than concern- it is action. What I hear from people in the pews is that no one should be trapped in second-class status, regardless of race or of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now is the time for Congress to act on the will of the people and pass ENDA."
On Tuesday, callers will be explaining that ENDA is rooted both in a common religious belief that everyone is created in the image of the Divine and in fundamental American values of equality and fairness in the workplace.
Bill Mefford, of United Methodists, General Board of Church and Society, said:
"The United Methodist Church believes that 'certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation' (2008 Book of Discipline, 162-J). All people have basic and undeniable human rights and one of these is that workers should be judged solely on their individual merits. For this reason, we support the passage of ENDA and urge Congress to act now."