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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 05:03 PM

CAP: 13 Progressive Faith Leaders to Watch in 2013


Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and a Roman Catholic nun, addresses
the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 5, 2012.


1. Sister Simone Campbell—executive director of NETWORK, as well as a Roman Catholic nun, lawyer, and poet—made headlines in 2012 when she catapulted NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, into the national spotlight. After Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) attempted to tie his Catholic faith to slashing social services in his House budget proposal, Campbell challenged his claim and took NETWORK’s message of economic justice on the road. She led the multistate “Nuns on the Bus” tour that decried Rep. Ryan’s “immoral” budget cuts and visited faith-based charities relying on government support to help the poor and vulnerable. Campbell reiterated this call for economic justice during an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Convention, inspiring a nationally televised audience and garnering a standing ovation from convention attendees. Campbell’s voice on economic justice and the critical protection of social services has inspired a chorus of support and is changing the national conversation on economic inequality. Be on the lookout for her trailblazing advocacy again this year.

2. Richard Cizik—president of the New Evangelical Partnerships for Common Good and former vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals—made waves in 2012 for leading a groundbreaking effort to strengthen support among evangelicals for family planning. The partnership encouraged church leaders to address the issue within their congregations, issuing a document titled “Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning, and Maternal, and Children’s Health.” The document affirmed the use of contraceptives as a “responsible and morally acceptable” means to ensure the health of a woman and her children; addressed the financial struggles women face in accessing health insurance and reproductive health services; and highlighted the positive impact of providing federal funding for health clinics that offer essential services to women and their children. Given the fierce opposition of many conservatives to providing access to contraceptive coverage in employee insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, Cizik’s efforts to showcase evangelical leaders standing up for the morality of contraception will be crucial to reproductive-justice advocates in 2013. Keep an eye out for Cizik’s leadership as this debate continues.

3. Rev. Delman Coates—pastor of the 8,000-member Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland—is a bold leader in a growing movement of faithful African Americans who support marriage equality. In 2012 Coates joined African American faith leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton in supporting an effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. Coates spoke at press conferences and appeared in television ads expressing his support for marriage equality, saying, “I would not want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, therefore I should not deny others based upon mine.” As the same-sex marriage debate continues to gain national attention, Coates is poised to keep breaking down stereotypes and offer a prophetic voice among those advocating for marriage equality.

4. Rabbi Laurie Coskey—a rabbi and executive director of Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice of San Diego County and co-chair of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice—California—is a champion of faith-based advocacy for labor rights. Under her leadership, the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice has advocated on behalf of working families in San Diego County by launching campaigns that work with grassroots activists and policymakers to address the issues of living wage policies, immigration, and affordable housing. Coskey has spent years trying to shed light on the struggles of San Diego mall janitors, and in 2012 she joined forces with the Employee Rights Center and spoke in support of a group of San Diego hotel workers claiming $250,000 in wage and hour theft from their employer. Coskey, who also serves on the national board of Interfaith Worker Justice, offers a faithful witness on behalf of workers and working families in California and looks to remain a powerful agent for change in 2013.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/news/2013/02/27/54730/13-progressive-faith-leaders-to-watch-in-2013/

Saw Sister Campbell when she led a protest in front of Boehner's office last year. Something else.

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