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Tanenbaum Supports Religious Pluralism and Condemns the RAISE Act

Tanenbaum strongly condemns the proposed amendments to current U.S. immigration policy. As outlined in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy Act (RAISE) and supported by the current Administration, the proposals are alarming. By seeking to cut legal immigration to the U.S. in half by 2027 and to cap the number of refugees at 50,000, the RAISE Act would actually institutionalize bias against people who practice one of the minority religions in the U.S. Tanenbaum therefore calls on Congress to reject the bill.

Tanenbaum’s CEO, Joyce Dubensky, notes, “The White House is telling us that this bill is not meant to target any particular group. But the truth is that this bill would thwart immigration, especially by people from minority religions in our country—like Muslims and Hindus, who have increasingly needed to come to this nation for safety, opportunity and better lives.” Dubensky believes this proposal should concern all of us.

“This is a critical moment in America’s history. Not only are we deeply polarized, but nationally, we are conflicted about whether to embrace our traditional values of welcoming the stranger. Many are more concerned with insulating themselves from current demographic shifts. Yet, these shifts are part of our global reality,” Dubensky said. “So the real question for all of us is, what does it mean to be an American? Do we welcome the stranger like our many religious and secular values urge? Or do we turn from the people who need us?”

Tanenbaum cautions our government’s leaders that passing the RAISE Act would backfire. Rather than protect our nation, it would amplify Islamophobia, legitimatize irrational fears of refugees and immigrants, and fuel hate crimes against people from religious minorities that are already reaching epidemic levels. We urge, instead, that our nation’s leaders prove that they value inclusivity by passing policies that honor and uphold religious freedom and diversity, which RAISE does not.

As Dubensky explains, “Simply stated, RAISE would raze our nation’s foundational values in the guise of sound immigration policy.”

Letter to Congress: RESIST Budget Cuts to Foreign Assistance

Dear Member of Congress,

    Click to view and download            Tanenbaum’s Letter to Congress

As a constituent from New York and as the CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, I write with deep concern about the proposed budget cuts to foreign assistance, especially as it relates to global conflict. At Tanenbaum, we identify and work with men and women driven by their religious beliefs and ready to risk their lives to end conflict around the world. These include deadly conflict, escalating violence and extremism that, over the past 15 years, has reduced world GDP by 13.3%.

U.S. foreign assistance is a vital tool for reducing violent conflict and the threat it poses to Americans. The Institute of Economics and Peace estimates that for every dollar we invest in peacebuilding now, the cost of violent conflict would be reduced by $16 over time. However, despite its proven success, there is shockingly little investment in peacebuilding. Just 2% of U.S. spending goes to peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities (around one percent of the $739 billion cost of conflict in 2015).

Despite minimal resources, peacebuilding practitioners offer a wide range of successful programs that reduce violence by addressing the root causes of conflict. One example is Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network, which reduces violence in many countries, including Afghanistan, Nigeria and Colombia. Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers and so many other peacebuilders offer creative and impactful approaches to: land disputes, religious and ethnic conflicts, gang violence, gender-based violence, and extremism.

We need to invest in the preventive power of peacebuilding. The reductions for peacebuilding in the proposed budget will make us less safe while increasing the corollary military costs. I therefore urge you to resist draconian cuts to foreign assistance that will destroy our ability to prevent and reduce violence globally.

I look forward to hearing from you on how you are working to save lives and money through peacebuilding in the FY 2017 and FY 2018 budget processes.

Thank you,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Syria explained: how it became a religious war, Top 5 News Stories

Syria explained: how it became a religious war

Though the Syrian conflict began as an internal uprising, it quickly escalated into a civil war that attracts external fighters from around the world. Understanding the sectarian divides and religious tensions throughout Syria's population explains how the conflict became a religious war.

Health-care professionals encouraged to 'be missionaries'

John Brehany, the executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, urged medical and healthcare professionals to promote pro-life and life-affirming policies to their patients. At his seminar "The Culture of Life in Medical Practice", Brehany spoke about strategies to advance these ethics in medicine. 

Scientists call for religious help to save our wildlife

Three distinguished scientists from Sweden and Australia call on religious leaders to use their positions as a platform to promote stewardship through conservation. By painting conservation as a moral responsibility, these scientists hope that the unification of religion and science could solve the problem of biodiversity loss. 

Do Christians, Muslims, and Jews worship the same God?

Though all three religions trace their roots back to Abraham, all three religions share similarities and points of disagreement. Each religion, however, clams to be the "One True Faith".

61% of Israelis: Separate State, religion

Hiddush association's Religion and State Index recently released survey findings which reveal that a majority of adult Israelis desire a greater separation of religion and state. From expanding which conversions Israel recognizes to government funding for religious schools, the survey shows that disagreements regarding the role of religion in state politics continue to be the focus of public discourse.