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Published on February 14th, 2017 | by ABCUSA

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ABHMS Joins Other Organizations as Signatory on Three Human Rights-Related Letters

VALLEY FORGE, PA (2/14/17)—As a founding member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) recently joined with other human rights groups, responsible investors and faith-based organizations as a signatory on three letters related to human rights and consumer protections.

“Advocating for human rights and economic justice is a critical part of ABHMS’ socially responsible investing ministry,” says Michaele Birdsall, ABHMS deputy executive director, chief financial officer and treasurer. “As faith-based investors, we have a responsibility to speak out to influence and shape corporate behaviors in ways that are consistent with our values.”

The first is a letter to current and former CEOs who comprise President Donald J. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Sent prior to the forum’s Feb. 3 meeting with the president, the letter urges rejection of the executive order restricting entry into the U.S. for refugees, immigrants and documented residents from selected countries.

“Now is a moment in history to make a stand against discrimination and in support of fundamental American values of tolerance and inclusion,” said ICCR CEO Josh Zinner. “As key representatives of corporate America, the business leaders advising the president have a critical responsibility to respect human rights and reject the thinly veiled bigotry and xenophobia that the travel ban evokes.”

Addressed to President Trump and the U.S. Congress, the second letter expresses urgent support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its director, Richard Cordray. According to ICCR, Congress has introduced bills that would gridlock the agency and slash its funding. Although confirmed by the Senate to a term that does not expire until 2018, Cordray has been threatened with removal, says ICCR.

“We are convinced that any steps to weaken the CFPB,” the letter states, “would jeopardize the financial health of American businesses, families and communities, and would expose our economy to further risk.”

The third letter urges banks that are financing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to route the pipeline around treaty territory.

“Since 2014,” the letter states, “the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has opposed DAPL’s projected route, which crosses their drinking water, sacred sites and treaty territory without meeting international standards for consultation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.”

The letter continues, “We are concerned that if DAPL’s projected route moves forward, the result will almost certainly be an escalation of violence and unrest as well as possible contamination to the water supply.”

Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300-member organizations comprise faith communities and other socially responsible investors who work in coalition to promote greater corporate accountability on issues of environmental and social importance.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists in answering God’s call to promote Christian faith across the United States and Puerto Rico to cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and heal and transform communities, by developing aligned action networks and programs.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.


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