Religious leaders to Pelosi: Pass Fair Elections in wake of Citizen United ruling

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  • Dale Eisman

Washington, DC–More than 200 faith leaders representing a diversity of religions have signed onto a letter to Congress expressing concern over the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse decades of campaign finance law to allow unlimited corporate spending on elections. The faith leaders are also pledging to work with their congregations to encourage passage of legislation that put voters – not special interests – in charge of our democracy. Common Cause and Public Campaign released the letter Wednesday.

“We believe existing campaign finance laws already permit the unfair influence of persons and groups with extraordinary wealth over the political process by providing them with special access to elected officials,” the religious leaders wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “This special access ultimately results in legislative outcomes that reflect the needs of those with the financial means to make political contributions, and not the needs of the poor or disenfranchised.”

“We believe Congress must address both the Citizens United decision and the problems of the current campaign finance system by passing the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752 and H.R. 1826). This measure would empower average people to participate in politics with small donations, and would return the gaze of our elected officials solely to the needs of their districts and the nation as a whole, rather than the interests of those with significant financial resources for campaigns,” the letter continued.

Common Cause President Bob Edgar, a United Methodist minister and former head of the National Council of Churches, organized the faith leaders to sign the letter. “Religious leaders were shocked to see the Supreme Court make a ruling that goes so far to further diminish the voices of society’s most needy,” Edgar said. “But there is something Congress must do: pass the Fair Elections Now Act to create a campaign finance system that makes elected official beholden to all people – not just the wealthy special interests.”

Signers include the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of America and Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogoe of San Francisco and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives; Rev. Dr. James Forbes, former senior pastor, Riverside Church, New York, NY, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus.

Click here to read the letter and the complete list of signers.

Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.

Both organizations are working to pass the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826 / S.752) as the comprehensive solution to breaking the special interests’ grip on our government. The proposal would create a citizen-funded election system for Congress in which candidates could run for office on a blend of small donations and public funds.