VOTE!

Exactly four weeks from today is Election Day! Tuesday, November 6, will be here before you know it, so make sure you’re prepared before you go to the polls.

AM I REGISTERED TO VOTE?
In Iowa, you can register to vote up through Election Day. Check to make sure you are registered by visiting the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. There you’ll also find your precinct and voting location.

WHEN CAN I VOTE?
Some voters like to wait until Election Day, but there are actually many benefits to voting early! You won’t need to worry if you’ll be sick, you can avoid long lines, and you won’t receive any more phone calls from campaigns. Early voting began Monday, October 8, at county auditors’ offices, and absentee ballots were mailed out as well. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 5 and received at county auditor offices by noon on Tuesday, November 13, to be considered on time to be counted.

Other in-person voting options in your county can be found at https://iowavotesearly.com/.

WHO WILL BE ON MY BALLOT?
Each county auditor will have sample ballots. Some will have them on their website. Visit http://www.iowaauditors.org/, select your county from the dropdown menu, then click on the link to learn more about who you’ll see on your local ballot.

I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE JUDGES ON THE BALLOT. HELP!
Judicial reviews of all judges on the midterm ballot, including their biographies, are available here at https://www.iowabar.org/. The 2018 Judicial Performance Review results are provided by the Iowa Bar Association.

WHAT IF I HAVE AN ISSUE AT THE POLLING PLACE?
The ACLU of Iowa is a good resource when it comes to knowing your rights about voting in Iowa. Before you head to the polls, learn how you might resolve a problem by reading through some of the situations that could arise. And if you’re in central Iowa, join us October 19 at Crossroads to hear ACLU of Iowa Policy Director Daniel Zeno talk about voting rights.

No matter whether you vote absentee, early at your county auditor’s office, or on Election Day, the most important thing is that YOU VOTE. Your voice matters.

for Faith Leaders & Clergy

Statement on the Death Penalty
Iowa’s Faith Leaders and Clergy
January 31, 2018

It is with heavy hearts that we come together as one voice to speak up and stand against the introduction of the death penalty in Iowa. For many reasons, based on the spectrum of our faiths and religious traditions we represent as well as the clear societal concerns surrounding the implementation of the death penalty, we fervently oppose the death penalty and ask you as elected officials to oppose it as well.

We come with heavy hearts because our beloved Iowa is considering legislation we know to be wrong, immoral, and contrary to the facts that have become so apparent across the nation.

The data and facts are clear. The implementation of the death penalty is influenced by the racial undertones of our nation’s history. African American men are adversely and disproportionately impacted. They are more likely to be given the death penalty upon conviction, especially if the victim is white. This alone is argument enough against the death penalty, but we have additional concerns.

We, along with most Americans, are concerned about innocent people being sentenced to death. Seven of every ten adults believe there is a risk an innocent person will be put to death. Fifty percent of Americans say minorities are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for the same crime. Between 1973 and 2015, 153 innocent people—innocent people—were exonerated with evidence of their innocence and released from death row.

We, along with most Americans, understand the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. States with the lowest murder rates do not have the death penalty, while states with the highest murder rates do have the death penalty. A 2009 poll found police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violent crime and the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money to deter crime.

We, along with most Americans, know the cost of implementing the death penalty is too high a price to pay in terms of our scarce public dollars. In Oklahoma, capital cases cost on average 3.2 times more than non-capital cases. In a state like Iowa that is unable to adequately fund basic, public services such as PK-12 and higher education or provide basic protections for children and the least of those amongst us, we have no business adding the unnecessary costs of implementing the death penalty.

The use of the death penalty by states is on the decline. Seven states have abolished the death penalty since 2007, including New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Multiple states have placed a suspension or moratorium on executions. Only five states account for all executions in 2016 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Texas), which tells us other states understand the death penalty is not a fair or reasonable action for a state to take. Iowa has not had the death penalty since 1965.

We, along with most Americans, do not support the death penalty. A 2010 poll found 61% of voters would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.

At its core, our opposition to the death penalty is based in our faith traditions that inform our beliefs on what is right and wrong and what we must stand against on behalf of our faith and human rights. Our collective faiths compel us to use our voices to declare the death penalty wrong and immoral. The government should not kill a human being as retribution or punishment, regardless of the person’s actions.

As faith leaders and clergy across the state, we implore you to stand with us and say no to allowing the death penalty in Iowa. It is unfair, unnecessary, ineffective, and morally wrong.


  • The “Iowa’s Faith Leaders and Clergy Statement on the Death Penalty” is for faith leaders and clergy only. We believe the power of this statement will be because faith leaders are speaking up. Together.
  • The names of those who sign will be published. By signing the statement, you are giving us permission to publish your title, name, religious affiliation, and town in emails, online, and in print. We will only publish your congregation or organization if you include it on the online form. We will not publish your email address.
  • If you are not a faith leader or clergy, please speak up against the death penalty legislation by contacting your legislator directly by phone or email. You can determine your legislator and their contact information at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find.

Moral Mondays IOWA during the 2017 Iowa Legislative Session

Below are the issues covered at the 2017 Monday gatherings.

April 17: The Budget: Assessing the Harm to Iowans

April 10: **no Moral Mondays IOWA this week**

April 3: Dead or Alive?

March 27: Whose Right is it Anyway?

March 20: Causing Injury to Workers’ Compensation

March 13: The real story of Iowa’s budget shortfall

March 6: Will your vote count? Efforts to suppress the vote in Iowa

February 27: Threats to Quality Public Education: ESAs, STOs, and more

February 20: **no Moral Mondays IOWA this week**

February 13: Kansas’ Cautionary Tax Tale: A Model of What Not To Do

January 30: Chapter 20: Protecting Iowa’s Collective Bargaining law

January 23: Women’s Reproductive Healthcare: Standing together and fighting back

Vote to continue Iowa’s tradition of fair courts

The Des Moines Register Opinion
October 19, 2016

Iowa has a long and proud tradition of fair courts and decisions upholding the law that are well ahead of their time. Our state has preserved and built upon this tradition over time and, regardless of attacks in recent years by religious extremists, Iowans understand the importance of a judicial system free from politics.

It should come as no surprise that the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot for retention this year receive tremendous support from Iowans. Justice Not Politics recently commissioned a poll that showed a 25 percent lead in favor of the justices. In these divided political times, it is refreshing that Iowans continue to rise above partisanship to protect our fair courts.

Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Brent Appel and Justice Darryl Hecht are highly qualified and bring their respected judicial experience to the Supreme Court. The poll results are a reflection of Iowa’s commitment to fair and impartial courts and a recognition that our judiciary should never be part of the partisan political arena.

The Iowa Supreme Court has done great work to bring families together and ensure all Iowans have equal rights. Iowa’s judges are committed to the rule of law and the state’s constitution. Justice Not Politics and our supporters will take nothing for granted, but it is encouraging to see voters continuing their longstanding support of Iowa’s high quality judges.

We encourage every Iowan to turn over their ballot and uphold Iowa’s tradition of supporting fair and impartial courts.

— Connie Ryan, chairperson, Justice Not Politics; executive director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

Vigil for Peace: A prayerful response to violence in our land

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Des Moines
Remarks by Connie Ryan
Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
July 12, 2016

 

I’m feeling like we have been here before. Perhaps it is because we have. Just four weeks ago I stood in this same spot along with Bishops and leaders for a prayer vigil following the mass shootings in Orlando. Many of you were here, too.

I said then… We come together as people of faith and no faith to find solace, refuge… to find understanding and to make sense of the world again.

160712-PrayerVigil-collageI said… As part of the interfaith community, we send our love to the victims, the wounded, and the families… As part of the interfaith community, we walk hand-in-hand with our sisters, brothers, and friends in the LGBTQIA community… we stand with our Muslim neighbors who have received the unjust and unrelenting wrath of so many.

We named the names of the dead and we said, no more. Yet here we are, again.

When will there be change?

On social media and on television, I see people actually arguing that police killing black men is not a matter of race, even though there is an ever-growing list of young black men needlessly murdered by police. I hear people say “if he hadn’t broken the law…” “if he was just respectful to the police…” “if he just…” As if that justifies a man’s death.

And I listen to moms and dads who have to give “the talk” to their black sons. A talk I did not ever have to give to my son and, the reality is that in my white privilege it never even occurred to me that it was necessary. But it is for those moms and dads.

And then, when five police officers are murdered while on duty and protecting people for exercising their right of free speech and assembly, I read posts arguing the same old talking points that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Or, if only more people in the crowd were carrying…

Carrying what?

Racism. Police bias. Hate. Guns. Violence. Police safety. There are so many issues tied up in the shock and anger of last week.

When will there be change?

Perhaps there will be change when we take seriously the idea that we all are responsible and we must stand up and speak out. Perhaps it will change when we take seriously our problem in the United States with access to guns and the unsafe environment we have created for our children. Perhaps when we take seriously that racism is real and it is our responsibility to build relationships, community, and make meaningful changes to our laws and institutions so children of color have the same opportunities as white children. Perhaps when we take seriously the implicit biases of our criminal justice and judicial systems and the resulting disproportionality against black and brown men. Perhaps when we take seriously our responsibility to make change, perhaps then it will stop.

As people of faith and no faith, we look for the strength to stand tall and speak clearly. We seek the courage to use our voices. We commit ourselves to actions that will end racism, hate, bias, and discrimination. And, we resolve to end the proliferation of guns and resulting gun violence in our nation.

When will there be change? Well, it starts here. And, it starts now. It starts with me, and it starts with you.

Crossroads attendees shared thoughts about Orlando, gun control

On June 17, 2016, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa’s Crossroads luncheon featured a thoughtful community conversation about the Orlando massacre, hate, violence, and gun control. Below are the remarks made by LeAnn Stubbs, a minister from Plymouth United Church of Christ.

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Good Afternoon. My name is LeAnn Stubbs and I am the Minister of Care and Welcome at Plymouth Church.

I have spent much of this past week engaged in conversations about Orlando. And I have done a lot of listening to my GLBT sisters and brothers process feelings and reactions to this event. Knowing this, Connie asked me (yesterday at 2 in the afternoon, I might add) if I would speak today from the voice of the GLBTQIA community. She said, “a mash-up, if you will, of the conversations you have been having.”

I am not sure I have any new words to add to all the words you all have heard so many time. But maybe there is value to keep speaking with and listening to one another.

With that said, I am actually going to start with words that none of us ever need to hear again. Words spoken by a California Pastor, who, on Sunday night said, “the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.”

What in the world does a person do with that? Someone who doesn’t even know me, hates me. Someone who knows absolutely nothing about my life, despises me. Someone, and someone who claims to speak on God’s behalf, wishes I were dead. What in the world does a person do with that?

Well, among so many other things, you might just feel alone. “Lonely” is the constant word that I have heard spoken all week long.

Just yesterday, a parishioner was in my office and said, “I thought I would be feeling angry. Instead, I just feel lonely.”

One woman texted me with these words, ”I am struggling with silent un-ease, too vague to color as sorrow, just empty and alone.”

Earlier in the week, a gentleman said, “I find myself feeling much like I did when I first came out. There are busy people all around me, yet I feel separate from everyone, really isolated.”

Of course the conversations also included a lot of memories of the bars being the only safe place most people knew. The bars as sanctuary. Then they would smile and say, “that was before Plymouth.” (and I trust that you all have heard similar things said to you about your house of worship.) Yet still the conversations would circle back around to loneliness.

Person after person mentions feeling alone, lonely, isolated.

Maybe it is too soon to be angry. Maybe we are weary of being afraid.

In a Raymond Carver short story, there is a brief conversation that goes like this: “so, did you get what you wanted out of life?” “Yes.” “And what was that?” “To know myself beloved on this earth.”

It is perhaps the most basic of human longings…to know ourselves beloved on this earth.

Sisters and Brothers, it is not right that a basic human longing be an item of privilege.

Brothers and sisters, as people of faith we must continue to speak and to act. We cannot allow hatred to go unchallenged. It is not OK that our family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors feel alone, lonely, isolated.

What is good for one part of the body is good for the whole. Every single person deserves to know himself or herself to be beloved on this earth…a child of God…made in God’s image…and embraced and celebrated by people and communities of faith.

I am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because I know that God’s desire for the human family is that each of us is welcomed and cherished for who we are in all of our uniqueness. I am filled with hope because you all are here. And my hope has a vision, a vision borrowed from West Side Story and the Prophet Isaiah—

Someday, somewhere, there is a place for all of us, a time and a place where you shall go out in joy, and you shall be led back in peace! As I make my way through life, the mountains and the hills shall burst into song! As we all live together in communities based on justice and respect, the trees of the field shall clap their hands! Instead of the thorn, shall come up the cypress. Instead of the brier, shall come up the myrtle.

Let us make it so!

It’s Simple: Stop the hate

by Connie Ryan
Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
The Des Moines Register Iowa View, June 16, 2016

 

It’s so complicated. Issues intertwined to a point that none are distinct. Hate, violence, homophobia, bigotry, discrimination, Islamaphobia, guns. Responses of grief, anger, prayers, marches, pundits pontificating, politicians urgently tweeting hate. How do we sort through it all?  It is overwhelming and so complicated.

Some in the faith community shoulder much of the blame for creating an environment that allows a man to walk into a nightclub and gun down scores of people simply because he has become enraged over their sexual orientation or gender identity. All in the faith community have a responsibility to name this hate and repudiate the violence. All in the faith community must stand shoulder to shoulder as ally, friend, comrade to the LGBTQIA community to stop this craziness. Words matter, as do actions.Rainbow-Cross-Orlando

Politicians that build their brand on hateful statements also bear responsibility. As do the political leaders and citizens that stand silent or cheer on the divisiveness as if it is a political game. Only it is not a game, is it? Games do not result in lives lost and communities terrified.

Orlando was not about Islam or people who are Muslim. Those who push all people of one religion into an extremist corner are misguided and do great harm to our nation’s freedoms. We know by experience that extremism and hate can germinate and fester in a person of any faith, or no faith. We know by experience that extremism is not about the actual faith or belief system, but is a warped worldview that lives out with twisted and devastating results.

Orlando was about hate and violence against the LGBTQIA community. It is about extremism.  It is about the ability to walk into a gun store and walk out with a military-style assault rifle with less accountability than it is when someone is tracked for buying Sudafed or driving a moped. It is about our nation as a whole and the eagerness of some to perpetuate a culture of hate and their skill at diverting our attention with red herrings and excuses.

It seems so complicated, but really it is not. It is time for those who believe in love, cherish diversity, understand the worth of every person, and believe in the promise of our nation to stop the hate. People of all faiths and people of no faith standing together against hate speech, violence, bigotry and discrimination toward people who are LGBTQIA, Muslim and every other group with a target on their back. People of faith and no faith must build a wall against words and actions that do harm to others and serve only to divide us as a nation.

It is time to stand tall and speak clearly against hate, violence and bigotry. On social media, at work or school, in the grocery store, and at home. We need your voice, your passion and your resolve.

It is not complicated. It is time.

Prayer Vigil commemorating the victims of Orlando

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Des Moines
Remarks by Connie Ryan
Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
June 14, 2016


We come together as people of faith and no faith to find solace, refuge. Perhaps to find understanding and to make sense of the world again. For some, we come to find safety and sanctuary.

160614PrayerVigil-Orlando-CR

We come together from all walks of life, incomes, zip codes, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, ethnicity, and religions. We come together because that’s what we do in times of chaos, confusion and pain.

Orlando was that: chaos, confusion, pain. It was hate at its worst and violence at its greatest. We in Des Moines, Iowa cannot know what it was like to be at ground zero. We cannot feel the fear or anger or numbness of those who were there, or that of their family and friends who longed to know if they were okay. We cannot know.

But we do know ours, which is very real. Our anger. Our fears. Our numbness. We call it by name and we come to this gathering to find healing and community.

As part of the interfaith community, we send our love to the victims, the wounded and the families in Orlando. As part of the interfaith community, we walk hand-in-hand with our sisters, brothers and friends in the LGBTQIA community here and beyond who grieve and are fearful. As part of the interfaith community, we stand with our Muslim neighbors who have received the unjust and unrelenting wrath of so many.

As part of the interfaith community, we rebuke those who have used this horror to perpetuate more hate. Preachers who misuse holy scriptures with a call for more violence. Politicians who tweet division and bigotry.

As part of the interfaith community, we join together to say no more. No more hate speech. No more violence. No more bigotry or discrimination. No more.

We believe in love. We cherish diversity. We understand the worth of every person. And, we believe in the promise of our nation to stop the hate.

As people of faith and no faith, we pray for the strength to stand tall and speak clearly against hate, violence and bigotry. We pray for the courage to use our voices each time. Every time. We pray for the end of hate and violence. We pray, No More.

 

To view the prayer vigil in its entirety, please visit https://www.facebook.com/IowaAnnualConference/videos/10154355345001677/. Thanks to the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church for recording it.

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa reacts to anti-American comments

Des Moines, IA – Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, released the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the United States:

“The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is horrified and disappointed in statements by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States. It is simply unacceptable for a candidate for the presidency to make such inflammatory statements that are based in bigotry and hatred about people for one religion. Our country is based in religious freedom and the statements by Trump are abhorrent,” stated Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. “Interfaith Alliance of Iowa stands with our Muslim neighbors and friends in demanding that Trump retract his statements and apologize to Muslims across Iowa, the nation, and the world.”

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa disappointed in failed vote on bullying amendment to protect Iowa children

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
May 20, 2015
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Interfaith Alliance of Iowa disappointed in failed vote on bullying amendment to protect Iowa children

Des Moines, IA – Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa & Action Fund, released the following statement regarding the failed vote on Amendment H-1377 to SF510 (Standings Bill):

“The lack of understanding and vision by House leadership to strengthen protections for Iowa’s children is disappointing,” stated Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the statewide Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. “House Republicans by and large chose to vote no and to not improve the bullying law through an amendment that mirrors one of the Governor’s top priority bills.”

Ryan Terrell continued, “We applaud all House members who chose to stand with Iowa’s children and voted to be part of the solution to stop bullying. We encourage House leadership to reconsider their position as the bill moves forward so that our state’s bullying law can be strengthened to better protect Iowa’s children in school districts across our state.”