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Pro-Choice Clergy Discuss Role of Religion in Politics and the Call to Social Responsibility at Annual Interfaith Clergy Breakfast
Rev. Deborah McKinley Honored for Distinguished Service with Davis Award; First Woman Clergy Member to Receive Prestigious Award
Washington, DC — Pro-choice religious leaders from across the faith spectrum today explored the use of religion in politics during the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) annual interfaith breakfast in Arlington, Virginia. The panel discussion focused on the role of pro-choice clergy to make social change in support of reproductive justice in communities across the country. The event was sponsored by the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board, a network of pro-choice clergy members who work closely with Planned Parenthood affiliates to advise and support women and families on issues of reproductive health and rights.
“For more than 90 years, pro-choice clergy members from across the country have stood side-by-side with Planned Parenthood to ensure women, men and teens have access to comprehensive and affordable reproductive health care.” said Cecile Richards, president of PPFA. “Planned Parenthood has no greater ally than these moral leaders who work tirelessly to support the women and families we serve.”
The panel included Rev. Jennifer Butler, Michelle Goldberg, and Aisha Sobh and was moderated by Rabbi Dennis Ross. Rev. Jennifer Butler is executive director of Faith in Public Life in Washington, DC, and the former Presbyterian Church (USA) representative to the United Nations (UN). Aisha Sobh is the first Muslim to serve on the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board. Michelle Goldberg is the author of Kindgom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, a book about the role of religious fundamentalism in Christian politics.
“It is our responsibility as pro-choice members of the faith to challenge conventional assumptions about religious views on reproductive health care and rights,” said Rabbi Dennis Ross, director of the Clergy Project of Family Planning Advocates of New York State. “By engaging in this type of exploration, our commitment to women’s health care and social justice is only strengthened.”
As part of the events, Rev. Deborah McKinley was presented with The Reverends Betsy M. and Thomas R. Davis Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her service to the Planned Parenthood mission and dedication to reproductive rights. She serves on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, and currently chairs the board. She is active with the Board of Chaplains of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, an advisory board which seeks to more fully engage the religious community of Philadelphia in the work and mission of Planned Parenthood. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Western Association of Ladies for the Relief and Employment of the Poor, a foundation that grants money to individuals in dire need. Rev. McKinley is the first woman recipient of the Davis Award since is creation in 2002.
The Reverends Betsy M. and Thomas R. Davis Distinguished Service Award was created in honor of the Reverends Davis, who devoted a lifetime of support to reproductive choice and women’s health. Rev. Betsy M. Davis, who died in 2002, was a founding member of Planned Parenthood of Saratoga and of Saratoga Domestic Violence Services. Rev. Thomas R. Davis was college chaplain and associate professor of religion at Skidmore College, as well as a board member of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson and a member of the Clergy Consultation Services on Abortion. Until last year, Rev. Davis was the chair of the Clergy Advisory Board; he currently serves as a member.