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NM Faith Groups Advocate for Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Nat'l Monument

April 30, 2012

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - CAFé (New Mexico Communities in Action and Faith) sponsored a recent training to prepare members of the clergy to preach and teach about issues related to the economic crisis. One issue the group is advocating for is national monument status for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

Executive director Sarah Nolan says getting President Obama to designate the area as a national monument could be an economic turning point for southern New Mexico. Area clergy participating in the effort foresee exciting opportunities, she says.

"Our clergy are really ecstatic - not just about the designation, but about the possible jobs it could bring."

CAFé is part of the national network PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing). As part of a campaign to turn out religious voters in November, PICO's affiliated local groups are focusing on issues related to their individual communities.

In a letter to President Obama, members of the New Mexico clergy urge him to create the monument on the grounds that the Organ, Potrillo and Uvas mountains are crucial to southern New Mexico's job creation and financial growth. But Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region supporters have other reasons, as well.

One member of the clergy championing this effort is Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Diocese of Las Cruces. His concern centers on the environment.

"In my thinking, my approach is moral and theological. There's a moral basis for taking care of the environment embedded in the Bible and the church's tradition."

The letter, which seeks to break congressional gridlock and build momentum for creating the national monument, calls the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks a "gift from God" that should be protected for future generations to enjoy.

CAFé is one of 10 PICO affiliates working to engage faith voters around economic issues.

Beth Blakeman, Public News Service - NM