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Albright College Religious Studies Professor Joins National ‘American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters’ Campaign

March 21, 2017

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Jennifer Koosed, Ph.D.

Reading, Pa. – Albright College religious studies professor Jennifer Koosed, Ph.D., has joined a diverse community of 100 religion scholars nationwide who have been asked to write letters to the Trump Administration on issues that most concern them at this time, and how the faith traditions they teach, study and practice address those matters.

The bipartisan campaign, “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters,” is sending one letter to the President, Vice President, Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress each day for the first 100 days of the new administration. The goal, according to the campaign, is to “articulate core American values that have grounded our nation in the past and should guide us forward at this time of political transition.”

For her March 21st letter, Koosed, an expert in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, gender and sexuality, and Judaism, has written about reproductive rights, focusing on abortion and Judaism’s position on the issue. Derived from a passage in Exodus, Judaism’s stance is that “not only are there times when abortions can be performed (generally rape, incest, statutory rape, great emotional distress), but sometimes they must be carried out (when the woman’s physical or mental health is threatened),” writes Koosed.

But Koosed does not believe that the laws governing abortion or birth control should mirror any biblical law or any religion’s ethic, including Judaism’s. “It remains fundamental not only to our right to privacy, but also to freedom of religion, for abortion and birth control to remain accessible and legal so that all Americans are free to follow the wisdom of their religious tradition and the guidance of their conscience,” she writes.

And Koosed adds: “Our advocacy and efforts should be focused on creating a world where women are safe and have access to the services and support needed to nurture life in the way that each woman ‘awesomely and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14) decides is best.”

Koosed said she accepted the invitation to participate in the “100 Days. 100 Letters” campaign because she believes that too often when people think of how religion affects politics and policy, they think only of how a small segment of the Christian community – namely white Evangelicals – approaches issues. In reality, said Koosed, “there are a wide variety of religious positions on issues like reproductive rights, immigration, LGBT rights, marriage equity, gun control, social safety net programs, trans rights, etc. So I appreciate that this group is trying to underscore that fact.” 

Koosed said she also chose to participate because she believes “that the Trump Administration poses a serious threat to our civil liberties, including our freedom of religion, so I am committed to doing everything I can to preserve those liberties.”

The scholars selected for the “100 Days. 100 Letters” campaign are drawn from secular and religious institutions and foundations nationwide, and represent a diversity of not only faiths, but races, genders, ages, political affiliation, sexual orientation and geography, as well.

“This campaign is meant to reaffirm who we are as Americans, and to model how we can learn from one another and work together for the common good,” said campaign creator Andrea L. Weiss, associate professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

To read Koosed’s letter: www.valuesandvoices.com/letter61/.

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Founded in 1856, Albright College educates creative, curious students to become adaptable, global citizens who discover and reach their full potential. The College’s flexible interdisciplinary curriculum encourages students to combine majors and disciplines to create individualized academic programs. Close faculty mentorship, numerous experiential learning options, and a diverse, supportive and nurturing community of scholars and learners help students exceed their own expectations and graduate with a commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Located in Reading, Pennsylvania, Albright enrolls more than 1,800 full-time undergraduates and 700 adult learners and graduate students.