Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Statement Of Mark J. Pelavin: Campaign Finance Reform Coalition Press Conference. October 6, 1997 - Washington, D.C.

October 6, 1997 - Washington, D.C. On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, their 860 congregations and 1,800 rabbis, and the 1.5 million Reform Jews throughout the United States and Canada, I am proud to be here today to add our voice to those calling, urgently, for serious campaign finance reform.

Our call for comprehensive campaign finance reform is reflective of the views of many mainstream religious communities. From the pews and pulpits of our churches and synagogues across the nation, we hear that campaign finance reform is not an esoteric technical issue of election regulations, but one that goes to the essence of the ethical and moral life of our nation. We hear people asking:

  • How can we expect just results from an unjust system, one in which monied interests hold every advantage, and those who most need the helping hand of government - the poor, our children - cannot make their voices heard above the din?

  • 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 which structurally and systematically favors the richest among us?

  • How can we acquiesce in a system which forces those who seek public office, or who wish to continue in public service, to spend so much of their precious time and energy not raising the nation's moral conscience but raising campaign funds?

If we are serious about seeking justice, and we are, then we cannot, and we will not, accept such a system.

We stand at the brink of an historic opportunity. Real reform is within reach. But first, the Senate must prove that it is committed to ending the status quo. The Lott Amendment, which the Senate will consider tomorrow, was designed to deceive, crafted to cradle politics as usual. (And how ironic, and revealing, that in attempting to derail vital legislation to open up our political system, Senator Lott and his supporters' first thought is to undermine the political voice of America's working men and women!)

We call on our elected leaders to reject the Lott Amendment and to work toward the creation of a more ethical campaign financing system, a system which will reinforce rather than tarnish the principles of American democracy, a system which can help salvage our collective faith in public service. We pledge our vigorous support in this historic effort.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in more than 860 congregations throughout North America.

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