Bipartisan Presidential Compassion Forum in PA Announced


CONTACT: Katie Barge, Faith in Public Life, 202.243.8289

March 13, 2008


Religious leaders from across the faith and ideological spectrum today invited Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama to participate in an unprecedented bipartisan presidential candidate forum at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on the evening of Sunday, April 13 -- just nine days before the Pennsylvania primary.


"Messiah College is delighted to host this unprecedented event. The compassion, reconciliation, and social justice issues to be discussed at the Compassion Forum are intrinsic to the mission and values of Messiah College," said Dr. Kim Phipps, president of the Christian liberal arts college.


Now more than ever, Americans motivated by faith are bridging ideological divides to address domestic and international poverty, global AIDS, climate change, abortion, genocide in Darfur, and human rights and torture. The Compassion Forum will provide the opportunity for candidates to discuss how their faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on these important issues.


Senator McCain, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have each been invited to the Compassion Forum. Each candidate will participate in a separate substantive conversation. The Forum will be moderated by Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, author of American Gospel, and respected scholar on faith and American politics.


The Compassion Forum will offer candidates an unprecedented opportunity to reach religious voters. The Forum will be broadcast on the Church Communication Network (CCN) to tens of thousands of people of faith in at least 1,000 churches across the country on April 20, the Sunday evening before the Pennsylvania primary.


The Compassion Forum is a testament to the power of faith to bring people together. The event has attracted the support of diverse religious leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.


"The Compassion Forum will give the candidates a chance to talk straight to voters about what they'll do as president to fulfill God's command that we be our brothers' keepers," said Governor Mike Huckabee, a supporter of the event. "I'm proud that the faith community is taking the lead in asking the candidates to confront the most pressing moral challenges of our times."


"Issues of faith, compassion and the common good are important throughout Pennsylvania," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "We have a moral obligation to provide a stable foundation for our next generation, but it also makes perfect economic sense. This year's candidates will be well served discussing these issues in Pennsylvania at the Compassion Forum."


"The Compassion Forum is a shining example of the faith community's commitment to justice and compassion for all of God's children. It's imperative that the presidential candidates give the compassion issues the attention they deserve," said Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Compassion Forum Board member.


"At this moment of incredible prosperity and intolerable poverty, it is more important than ever to elect a president who will be a force of justice and compassion. The Compassion Forum provides a unique opportunity for the candidates to tell us what they will do for the least of our brothers and sisters across the globe," said Dr. William J. Shaw, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. -- the largest African-American denomination in the nation -- Pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and Compassion Forum Board member.


Other nationally prominent members of the Compassion Forum Board include Dr. Paul R. Corts, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland A Church Distributed; Rev. Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Oran P. Smith, Palmetto Family Council; Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA; Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission; Dr. Syeed Sayeed, Islamic Society of North America; David Neff, Christianity Today; Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners; Rev. Dr. Tyrone S. Pitts, Progressive National Baptist Convention; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World; Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Sammy Mah, World Relief; Dr. David P. Gushee, President, Evangelicals for Human Rights; Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action; Rabbi Irwin Kula, President, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; Rev. Joseph A. Darby, Senior Pastor, Morris Brown AME Church, Charleston, S.C.; Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopal minister and Author; Rev. Dr. George Hunsinger, Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Matthew Sleeth, MD, Director, A Rocha USA; Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D, Rector, American Jewish University; Alexia Kelley, Executive Director, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Randy Brinson, Founder, Redeem the Vote; Rev. Sally Bingham, Founder, Interfaith Power & Light; Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., President and CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network; Sister Mary Waskowiak, RSM, President, Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., President, Healing of the Nations Foundation; Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Chair, Rabbis for Human Rights - North America; Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University; Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, North American President, World Council of Churches; Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism.


Messiah College is a nationally-ranked Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences with approximately 3,000 undergraduate students in 55 courses of study. Founded in 1909, Messiah College is located in Grantham, Pennsylvania, twelve miles from Harrisburg.
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