Faith out front event calls on voters for justice

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Faith leaders and community activists spoke for and against propositions Wednesday in a statewide day of action called Faith Out Front at the Orange County Labor Federation headquarters in Orange.

Leaders and activists focused on Propositions 30, 32, 34 and 36, they believe the outcome of these propositions have the greatest effect on the community and California.

“We are putting our Faith Out Front by calling on voters and politicians to better serve and protect all Californians,” said Wendy Tarr, executive director of Clergy and Laity United for Economics (CLUE) Justice in Orange County, and organizer of the interfaith public event, in a statement.

The Rev. Sarah Halverson, of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa, said she believes all religions should stand together and fight for justice, including Jews, Catholics and Muslims.

“We know that we cannot remain silent in a state of such injustice in our state,” said Halverson. “We will fight for and against those propositions which have negative effects upon our state and our communities.”

Kimberly Claytor, president of Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers, was there to support the passing of Proposition 30, which seeks to tax the wealthy and put more money into education and public safety.

Claytor said she thinks it is essential for students that Proposition 30 passes.

“Newport Mesa Unified school district would have a $16 million problem if Proposition 30 fails, and we’re in better shape than most districts,” said Claytor.

Since the the budget downturn, teachers have reported that they’ve taken more money out of their own pockets to provide the same high quality education for students, Claytor said. “If our district is hit with a 16 million dollar budget problem, there will be no way for our teachers to make ends meet with that.”

Pastor Zac Harmon-McLaughlin of the Community of Christ Church in Orange spoke on the faith perspective of Proposition 30, he said it’s important to care for those most vulnerable, and to stand in solidarity with those who are pressed.

“We must have strong schools and safety net services to help those to insure the future of California… and ask those who are financially well-off, those making more than $250,000 a year, to step up through temporary tax increases, it calls on them to be a blessing to the children of the state of California,” said Harmon-McLaughlin.

“I believe those who have the capacity to give, should give, so that others can also have a chance to also succeed through quality education,” Harmon-McLaughlin said.

Associate professor of philosophy at Biola University, Thomas Crisp, Ph.D., spoke on behalf of Proposition 36, which will reverse California’s “Three Strikes” law, which was intended to put violent criminals in prison.

He said that in the pursuit of safety, values have been compromised.

“We treat our neighbors in a way that disrespects their dignity, as fellow humans, that treats them in a harsh and loveless way that we’ve gone too far in our pursuit of safety,” said Crisp.

The “Three Strikes” law is recognized as the harshest sentence in law in the United States, and it has gone too far, he said.

By voting for Proposition 36, “We can give those inmates serving life sentences, for minor non-violent crimes, the chance for a more humane sentence, a chance to serve their time, be rehabilitated and return to their families,” Crisp said. “As people of faith, people who believe in our fundamental obligation to one another, especially to the weak, the vulnerable, the imprisoned, is love.”

With only a few reporters and no other bystanders showing up to the speech, Tarr said this was not meant to be a rally but only to allow the leaders to give their positions on the propositions.

CLUE Orange County is a network of clergy and congregation leaders committed to walking alongside low income and immigrant families in struggles for justice. They use a faith-rooted organized model that is guided and shaped through their faith.

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