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Religious Leaders Applaud Senate's Principled Stand on Campaign Finance Reform

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2001 - On behalf of the 16 Heads of National Religious Denominations and 270 Regional Clergy Leaders who make up the Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform interfaith coalition, the Reverend Dr. Bob Edgar, Rabbi David Saperstein, and Sister Kathy Thornton reacted to the Senate's approval of the McCain-Feingold legislation with the following statement:

    We congratulate the U.S. Senate for finally passing the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, S. 27. This is a tremendous victory for the American people. This is a powerful victory for those who seek to rid government of the buying and selling of votes, the appearance (if not the reality) of bribery and corruption, the showing of favoritism and special access to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and those with only average means. We commend and thank Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold for their leadership, and the many members of our churches and synagogues who devoted long hours to making this victory possible.

    Campaign finance reform is a matter of faith, ethics and fair government. How can we expect morally sound public policy when the system itself ensures disproportionate influence for the most powerful? How can we, whose religious calling includes the imperative to speak for the widow and the orphan, for the poor and the children, accept an electoral process that structurally and systematically favors the wealthiest among us? We applaud the U.S. Senate and urge the House of Representatives and President Bush to move quickly so that we can move beyond the morally unsound status quo.

    We know that ridding the electoral system of this most corrupting form of financing is only the first and most immediate step in seeking to move from a democracy of dollars to a democracy of people. We also know that money is necessary to run campaigns, and inform voters of the views and strengths of candidates, and that new money must be provided to candidates to replace the ending of "soft money" and the many corrupting influences it brought. We urge that, following the signing into law of the McCain/Feingold bill, we redouble our efforts to provide "clean money" for campaigns through public financing and free T.V. time.

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The Reverend Dr. Bob Edgar is General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA . Rabbi David Saperstein is Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism . Sister Kathy Thornton is National Coordinator of NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby .

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.

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