A Plea to the Senate of the United States by National Religious Leaders on the President's Impeachment Trial

January 6, 1999

As the United States Senate considers how to act on the articles of impeachment of the President received from the House of Representatives, we, leaders of national Jewish and Protestant religious organizations, urge the Senate to act for the good of the nation as a whole. While affirming the obligation to uphold the rule of law, we urge you to find a way to censure the President for his wrongdoing but not to embark upon an exhausting, debilitating trial that could drive him from office, have deleterious international consequences and further add to the divisiveness in our country.

We can learn from biblical precedent that when biblical figures failed, they were punished for their wrong doings, but the people were not deprived of their leadership. President Clinton has sinned by his own admission. Our shared religious traditions require us all to be mindful of punishment with penitence, and healing with compassion. In this spirit, we ask that the Senate not thwart the indicated will of a great majority of American citizens who understand the wrongs of the President's actions, but do not believe there has been a subversion of our government. To involve both Houses of Congress and the Chief Justice in a prolonged trial will punish all Americans who depend on Government to better their lot in life and ensure their access to justice and equity.

With God's help, may you who are our elected representatives overcome anger and partisanship, and lead us with wisdom and perspective. Censure the President, yes, and lift us to a higher way, so that as a united people, we may pursue a path of justice, compassion and healing.

Sincerely,

Bishop Craig B. Anderson
President, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

 

Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

 

Rabbi Seymour L. Essrog
President, The Rabbinical Assembly

 

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff
Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

 

Rabbi Vernon H. Kurtz
Vice President, The Rabbinical Assembly

 

Rabbi Richard N. Levy
President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

 

Rabbi Paul J. Menitoff
Executive Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

 

Rabbi Joel H. Meyers
Executive Vice President, The Rabbinical Assembly