Gamaliel National Religious Leaders Caucus
About the Gamaliel Religious Leaders Caucus
“If I dream alone, it is only a dream. If we dream together, it is the beginning of reality.”
—Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara, Brazilian Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, a champion for the poor, for human rights, and for democracy
The purpose of the Gamaliel National Religious Leaders’ Caucus (GNRLC) is to act within the Gamaliel Network in ways that faithfully witness to the God of love, power, justice, and community. The GNRLC will:
- Serve as the shaper and bearer of the comprehensive vision of congregation-based organizing for Gamaliel affiliates through each local/state affiliate’s religious leaders’ caucus;
- Offer counsel, direction, and prophetic corrective to religious leaders’ caucuses of Gamaliel affiliates and to the national network as a whole;
- Support and expand congregation-based organizing;
- Develop a body of theological materials relevant to principles of congregation-based organizing;
- Challenge organizing staff to be attentive to the needs, theologies, and values of religious communities; and
- Strengthen relationships between the Gamaliel Network and denominational judicatories.
A Faithful Response to Hate Crimes and White Nationalism
"Today, white nationalists are experiencing a renaissance of power and acceptance. Their philosophy of racial superiority stands in sharp contrast to a belief in a God who created human diversity and in a society that has been built, since its origins, on an ethnic and racial diversity now considered our nation’s strength, not its scourge.
We, as leaders of Gamaliel, must be vigilant. We must unite our interfaith voices. We must alert our local and national leaders as to the high cost of ignoring or tolerating this threat to our democracy. We must work to pass local laws that place respectful boundaries around speech and action that divide our nation.
Clergy and religious leaders must take the lead. We have a particular responsibility and burden to speak the truth. Hate has no place in our hearts and no place in our society."
Theological Statement on Civil Rights for All Immigrants
"We call for faith communities, people of faith and all people of good will to welcome, assist, and befriend immigrants; faith communities, people of faith and all people of good will to speak out for just and fair treatment of immigrants; public policy changes which secure civil rights for all immigrants, including:
- a broad legalization of undocumented immigrants who are contributing to the social and economic security of this nation
- full labor protection and labor rights for immigrants
- humane border enforcement policies that, while protecting the security of this nation, emphasize the safety and dignity of immigrants and offer a legal, safe, and orderly alternative for those seeking to cross our borders in order to work
- an end to the inhumane detention and warehousing of asylum seekers who have committed no crime and who have come to this country seeking freedom
- a reform of U.S. family-based legalization categories to encourage family unity in the immigration process
- an end to deportation for minor offenses
- protection of the civil liberties of all people regardless of citizenship
Theological Statement on Mass Supervision and Call to Action
"We therefore join with the ancient prophets, with Jesus, and with contemporary prophets in proclaiming freedom for prisoners who have paid their debt to society and need advocates to support them as they re-enter society in liberating yet responsible ways.
We call upon:
- Our Gamaliel Affiliates to lift up the issue of Mass Supervision and begin to address it in their own local contexts, acting and speaking as advocates for those who have languished with punishment rather than preparation to resume healthy roles in society;
- Religious Leaders to raise awareness of Mass Supervision in their congregations and associations, to teach, preach and mobilize opposition to these practices;
- Our Gamaliel Affiliates to recognize that words such as “mass supervision” reinforce the idea of domination and control by the State over individuals on probation or parole. “Community Re-Entry” emphasizes empowering individuals to re-enter society as responsible citizens. By changing language, we introduce a more egalitarian approach;
- Government leaders and criminal justice leaders to pursue alternative practices to prolonged supervision and instead focus on healthy reintegration into society in place of extended punishment and limitation of personal freedom.
Gamaliel Religious Leaders in the News
"Opinion: Faith leaders must unite to overcome hate," Rev. Keith Whitney
The Rev. Keith Whitney is the senior pastor at Sanctuary Fellowship Baptist Church in Detroit and also serves as board president of MOSES, a nonprofit organization of faith-based leaders dedicated to social justice advocacy, and a Gamaliel affiliate.
A training for religious leaders from Gamaliel affiliates is tentatively planned for Spring 2021. Typically Religious Leader trainings have included tools, concepts, and methodologies for becoming effective in balancing the demands of religious institutions with issues of justice and community concerns. These trainings have also provided a supportive network for religious leaders experiencing similar demands.
Note about the Lit section