Politics & Elections

Candidates for Second Congressional District get philosophical at clergy leaders’ forum

“The motivation for today’s forum comes from a concern that elections in America today tend to focus on personalities and an attitude of ‘What can you do for me?'” said Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser, who emceed the forum. “As clergy leaders we hope that this forum will help shift this – even a little bit – to more eternal and universal concerns about creating a society that lives up to the moral values of our highest aspirations.”
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Published on August 20, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

The Clergy Leaders’ Congressional Candidates Forum held at Temple Sinai in Cranston on Thursday morning was organized by faith leaders from throughout Rhode Island’s second congressional district.

The five candidates who attended the forum, Omar Bah, Joy Fox, Seth Magaziner, Sarah Morgenthau and David Segal, are seeking to replace Representative Jim Langevin who is retiring. Candidates fielded questions on faith and public policy, poverty, guns, abortion and the environment. Questions were asked by clergy members and faith leaders. All the candidates present at the forum were Democrats. The one Republican candidate who qualified to attend the forum, Allan Fung, declined the invitation.

“The motivation for today’s forum comes from a concern that elections in America today tend to focus on personalities and an attitude of ‘What can you do for me?'” said Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser, who emceed the forum. “As clergy leaders we hope that this forum will help shift this – even a little bit – to more eternal and universal concerns about creating a society that lives up to the moral values of our highest aspirations.

“We’re asking our candidates this morning to join our diverse and united communities in dreaming in league with God of a society that recognizes the dignity of each human being, that aspires to justice and righteousness, and a society that protects the creation that we have been given as a gift.”

Following the Uprise RI format, the question is written out as asked by the moderator, followed by video of each respondent’s answer.

The forum opened with an invocation from Reverend Timothy Rich from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Greenwich.

Each candidate supplied an opening statement:

Seth Magaziner:

Sarah Morgenthau:

David Segal:

Joy Fox:

Omar Bah:

Question 1, on Faith and Public Policy, was asked by Reverend Scott Spencer, from Cranston’s Woodridge Congregational Church: “Our faith informs our attitudes toward different issues. How would you allow your faith to inform your policy positions while at the same time fairly representing the people who elected you?”

David Segal:

Omar Bah:

Sarah Morgenthau:

Seth Magaziner:

Joy Fox:

Question 2, on Poverty, was asked by Reverend Linda Forsberg, from East Greenwich’s First Evangelical Lutheran Church: “Many Rhode Islanders struggle with housing availability and affordability. As a pastor who works with the Church Beyond the Walls, which ministers with people living in poverty and homelessness, I have seen the devastating effects of homelessness. In addition, a May 2022 survey showed that 91% of respondents said the cost of buying or renting a home in Rhode Island is a serious problem. In June, Governor McKee announced an $80m investment in affordable housing. What would you do in Congress to address the housing shortage in Rhode Island and particularly support low-income and working families and individuals?”

Omar Bah:

Joy Fox:

Seth Magaziner:

David Segal:

Sarah Morgenthau:

Question 3, on guns, was asked Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland from the Moosup Valley Congregational Christian Church: “We are horrified by the way that gun violence is spreading across our nation, into our schools, neighborhoods, and beyond. The United States has the highest rate of gun homicides among all large, high-income nations. Do you support the federal assault weapons ban that the House of Representatives passed last month and are there additional federal actions you support in response to gun violence? For example, federal background checks, funding for research on gun violence, and funding for intervention programs?”

Seth Magaziner:

Sarah Morgenthau:

Omar Bah:

Joy Fox:

David Segal:

Question 4, on abortion, was asked by Dr. Deborah Johnson, cantor at Temple Sinai in Cranston: “On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion. A recent Pew survey reported that, while there are people of faith on both sides of the issue, 66% of Black Protestants, 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, 56% of Catholics, 55% of Muslims, and 83% of Jews favor legal access to abortion. Would you vote in favor of banning some or all abortions nationwide, or do you believe that the protections of Roe should be codified into federal law? What specific steps would you take?”

Sarah Morgenthau:

David Segal:

Joy Fox:

Omar Bah:

Seth Magaziner:

Question 5, on the Environment, was asked by Reverend Rich: “As religious leaders, we are steeped in the sacred story of Creation found in the Bible, and we recognize our responsibility to care for the environment. While we are encouraged by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 with many provisions that will help protect American air and water from pollution and climate change, we wonder what the next steps will be. What will be your environmental priorities as a member of Congress, and how will you ensure those priorities are achieved?”

David Segal:

Joy Fox:

Omar Bah:

Seth Magaziner:

Sarah Morgenthau:

Each candidate supplied a closing statement:

Joy Fox:

Seth Magaziner:

David Segal:

Sarah Morgenthau:

Omar Bah:

Reverend Aldrich Garland supplied the closing benediction:

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