The Religious Institute just received the most exciting news:
The IRS has determined that the Religious Institute, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt independent organization! Read more about it here.
Happy Independence Day!
Have you missed any prior issues?
- October 2012 newsletter
"We know there are critical differences among candidates at the state and local levels on sexual justice, and that national candidates have been outspoken on these issues. Learn the platforms and the candidates, from school board and state level candidates up to the national offices."
- September 2012 newsletter
"I never would have predicted that nearly four decades later that birth control would once again be controversial."
- Summer 2012 newsletter
"What was once unmentionable is now being targeted for eradication by a broad coalition of people, nations and organizations, all working together. Sometimes, we can find common ground, even on sexuality issues."
- June 2012 newsletter
"I am hopeful that the Sisters going to Rome will let the Vatican know that it is way past time for the male hierarchy to cease seeking to control Roman Catholic women, either secular or religious."
- May 2012 newsletter
"We wanted our United Methodist friends and colleagues to know that we were standing with them in prayer and in astonishment that once again, LGBT people were relegated to second-class status in the denomination, and by stronger numbers than four years ago."
- April 2012 newsletter
"Despite ample evidence that sexuality education can help young people delay their sexual debut and increase their use of contraceptives when they do start having intercourse, several states have just passed or proposed measures to limit its teaching."
- March 2012 newsletter
An update, and a new beginning: the birth of Religious Institute, Inc.
- February 2012 newsletter
"Our belief in religious liberty and the separation of church and state means that we understand that no single religious voice should speak for all faith traditions on contraception or any other sexuality issues, and that the government should never take sides on religious differences. "
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN. The Sexuality Issues for Religious Professionals course is an online, self-guided graduate-level course. The course covers such sexuality-related topics as understanding one’s personal values and history, components of sexual identity, sexual development, life behaviors of a sexually healthy adult, dealing with attraction and boundaries, pastoral care, safe congregation policies, sexuality education, and worship in the context of ministry.
Read more information about Culture Shocks and stream or download the program here: http://www.cultureshocks.com/shows/2012/03/21/rev-debra-haffner-4/
The Religious Institute, Inc. is pleased to introduce its incorporating Board of Directors.
Religious Institute Statement on Bishops’ Rejection of White House Accommodation:
“Stop Playing Politics with Women’s Reproductive Health”
February 13, 2012—The Religious Institute, a multi-faith organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice, has issued a statement regarding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejection of the White House accommodation on birth control access in health insurance, seeing it as further evidence that their concern is not religious liberty, but playing politics with women’s lives.
“The Roman Catholic Bishops are continuing to play politics with women’s reproductive health and women’s lives,” said the Rev. Debra W. Haffner, Executive Director of the Religious Institute. “Under the White House plan, Roman Catholic institutions do not have to financially support contraceptive care; no woman has to use it. Cloaking their anti-women’s sexuality view in religious liberty arguments is nothing more than trying to do with health insurance reform what they have not been able to do from the pulpit: deny women access to modern contraceptives. The Roman Catholic Bishops do not speak for religion on contraception.”
Last week, twenty-four major national mainstream religious leaders released a statement supporting the decision by the White House that contraceptive services must be covered by insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations—churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples—will be exempt from this requirement. The signers of this letter come from 23 national organizations that represent millions of religious leaders and people of faith across the country.
There is nothing new about religious organizations supporting the provision of contraception and women’s moral agency to decide when, whether, and if to use birth control. More than 20 denominations have policies affirming birth control, passed as early as 1959.
There is an authentic, historically grounded religious Jewish and Christian perspective that supports access to birth control. It is precisely because of our religious belief that life is sacred, that we commit ourselves to assuring that it is created intentionally through the use of, and access to, contraceptive services. It is our beliefs as religious leaders from distinct traditions that we affirm that individuals must have the moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. Our belief in religious liberty and the separation of church and state means that we understand that no single religious voice should speak for all faith traditions on contraception or other sexuality issues, nor that the government should ever take sides on religious differences, including assuring that women regardless of their employers or where they attend university have basic preventive health care services covered. Just as Jehovah Witnesses who run secular institutions must cover blood transfusions for their employees, and Christian Scientists who run secular institutions must offer health insurance at all, so must Catholic hospitals and universities provide health insurance that cover all preventive health care services to their employees and students.
The Religious Institute, based in Westport, CT, is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society. More than 5,400 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 70 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national network.
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Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform
Major Mainstream Religious Leaders
Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage
In Health Care Reform
UPDATED--Thirty-one major mainstream religious leaders released a statement supporting the January 20, 2012 announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that contraceptive services must be covered by most insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations are exempt from this requirement.
Catholics for Choice; the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Concerned Clergy for Choice; Disciples for Choice; Disciples Justice Action Network; Episcopal Divinity School; Episcopal Women’s Caucus; Hadassah; the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Methodist Federation for Social Action; More Light Presbyterians; Muslims for Progressive Values; the National Council of Jewish Women; Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board; Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options; Presbyterian Voices for Justice; the Rabbinical Assembly; the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; the Religious Institute; Shalom Center; Society for Humanistic Judaism; The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Union Theological Seminary; Unitarian Universalist Association; United Church of Christ; Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER); Women’s League for Conservative Judaism; and Women of Reform Judaism represent millions of religious leaders and people of faith across the country.
Together, the leaders of these Christian, Jewish and Muslim national organizations affirmed:
"We stand with President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to reaffirm the importance of contraceptive services as essential preventive care for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to assure access under the law to American women, regardless of religious affiliation. We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services. The Administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care. Our leaders have the responsibility to safeguard individual religious liberty and to help improve the health of women, their children, and families. Hospitals and universities across the religious spectrum have an obligation to assure that individuals’ conscience and decisions are respected and that their students and employees have access to this basic health care service. We invite other religious leaders to speak out with us for universal coverage of contraception."
Catholics for Choice, Jon O'Brien, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Jonathan Stein, President
Concerned Clergy for Choice, Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director
Disciples for Choice, Nancy Hunt Wirth, Representative
Disciples Justice Action Network, Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Director
Episcopal Divinity School, The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President
Episcopal Women's Caucus, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, Convener
Hadassah, Marcie Natan, National President
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Robert Barkin, Interim Executive Vice President
Jewish Women International, Lori Weinstein, Executive Director
Methodist Federation for Social Action, Jill Warren, Executive Director
More Light Presbyterians, Rev. Dr. Michael Adee, Executive Director
Muslims for Progressive Values, Ani Zonneveld, President
National Council of Jewish Women, Nancy Kaufman, CEO
Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board, Rev. Jane Emma Newall, Chair
Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options, Rev. Amanda Riley; Elder Brian S. Symonds, Co-Moderators
Presbyterian Voices for Justice, Rev. H. William Dummer, Moderator
Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Rev. Steve Clapp, Chair
Religious Institute, Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner, Executive Director
Shalom Center, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, President
Society for Humanistic Judaism, M. Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO
Union Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President
Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Peter Morales, President
United Church of Christ, Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), Dr. Mary Hunt, Executive Director
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Rita L. Wertlieb, President; Sarrae G. Crane, Executive Director
Women of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director
February 1, 2012—The Religious Institute, a multi-faith organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice, has doubled thenumber of United States seminaries, divinity and rabbinical schools that are preparing the next generation of clergy with the training they need to address sexuality issues in ministry. Twenty seminaries now meet a majority of the criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible seminary, compared to just ten in 2009.
The Religious Institute is proud to be part of Trust Women Week, an online mass mobilization for women’s lives and rights. This campaign coordinates more than 50 organizations across the nation, including MoveOn.org and the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign to let legislators know that reproductive health, reproductive justice and reproductive rights are at the top of our agenda, and should be at the top of theirs, too.
Trust Women Week overlaps the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and reasserts our firm commitment to reclaiming the future of reproductive decision-making in 2012. One million participants are expected to join in this action, and a real-time online map will show the location of the virtual marchers. Click here to join the virtual march!
Messages from participants will be delivered directly to members of Congress, governors and state legislators, underscoring that Americans trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.
Thank you for being a part of Trust Women Week!
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