The DC faith community is coming together to support DC voting rights and get out the message that we can no longer continue with the status quo. We’re talking movement building–but first we’re talking to the White House. We need the White House to say NO to riders that inhibit DC’s ability to self-govern, and we need them to hear our faithful voices loud and clear.
Please join us on Saturday, June 25, at Lafayette Square Park, 11am-1pm.
- Bring yourselves! Clergy are invited to wear vestments as appropriate to your tradition and will be asked to stand up and be counted.
- Bring your Sunday School families and your choirs! Choirs will be singing My District ‘Tis of Thee and other protest songs, led by the Music Director at Covenant Baptist UCC.
- Bring everyone! We hope to have a big presence from the DC faith community.
Congregational banners and t-shirts are encouraged.
Come add your voice to our prophetic witness against injustice in our own city!
Rev. Amanda Poppei, Washington Ethical Society
Revs. Chris and Dennis Wiley, Covenant Baptist UCC
Canon Patty Johnson, Washington National Cathedral
Rev. Susan Newman, All Souls Church, Unitarian
Tonight a group of over 100 ordained Christian ministers from Omaha, Nebraska, will unveil a proclamation calling for an end to religious discrimination based on sexual orientation. The signers of the proclamation come from a variety of denominations including Lutheran, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. In a report by a local news station, Rev. Eric Elnes of Countryside Community Church said that the clergy came together to create the proclamation because, “we were just fed up with the popular notion that the Christian point of view is anti-gay.”
Rev. Elnes summed up the essence of the proclamation saying, “We believe homosexuality is not a sin. It’s not a birth defect or a choice. God created people this way. And if God created them this way, they need to be honored for who they are, and fully included in church life and wider society.” The proclamation also includes an apology to the LGBT community for instances in the past in which the clergy have kept silent about their views.
The Omaha clergy proclamation comes as part of a wider trend of greater acceptance of the LGBT community on behalf of Christian congregations. For example, earlier this week The Boston Globe reported that Rev. John Unni of St. Ceclia’s Catholic Church recently gave a sermon preaching unconditional love and acceptance for everyone, including LGBT people. What great examples of standing on the side of love!More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Yesterday I received this urgent message from our partner organization, No More Deaths, whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border. No More Deaths is a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and does amazing work in Arizona.
Currently, 21 people who greatly fear being kidnapped or murdered by the organized crime group Los Zetas are being held on immigration charges in New Mexico. Timely action is very important for the individuals currently being held.
Please join with Standing on the Side of Love and our partners at No More Deaths to demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol stop all deportations through Texas, including these 21 inmates at the Torrance County Detention Facility.
The fears of these individuals are not unwarranted. One of the individuals currently being held was previously kidnapped and held hostage.
After sending a fax, please take a moment to forward this message along, and take a moment to call Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other officials who can help to stop these dangerous deportations.
This action is extremely timely. Thank you for your support.
Standing on the Side of Love
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: No More Deaths Announcements
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 6:23 PM
Subject: EXTREMELY URGENT ACTION: Stop Texas Deportations
To: No More Deaths Announcements Subscriber
EXTREMELY URGENT ACTION: Stop Texas Deportations
“PLEASE SAVE US. We as in my fellow inmates find ourselves in the Torrance County Detention Facility and we are scared for our lives.”
This was the first line of one of the four letters, received by No More Deaths this week, signed by a total of 21 people being held on immigration charges in New Mexico. All the letters expressed extreme fear of being kidnapped or murdered if they are deported through the border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas (on the other side of the border from New Mexico and Texas). In these states, organized crime now has more power than the local government and migrants are regularly targeted upon arrival for extortion, violence, and forced conscription as gunmen and drug traffickers.
The letter continues: “[One of the inmates here was last deported through Texas and he was] kidnapped and held hostage along with other deportees and was always at gunpoint. The group is called Los Zetas. Some of the group of deportees didn’t have family or had no money to pay the ransom so this group killed them and they ones that paid escaped death but not a beating…On the other side of the border of Texas is where this takes place every day.”
Send faxes now and see below for more actions. WE MUST DEMAND THAT ICE AND BORDER PATROL STOP ALL DEPORTATIONS THROUGH TEXAS – INCLUDING THE INMATES OF THE TORRANCE COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY.
The stories from this group of detainees are not random anecdotes or exaggerations. Over 34,500 people have been killed over the last four years in drug cartel and gang related violence, with over half the killings in 2010 taking place in Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. Regular occurrences addressed in the letters include:
- Gangs using methods like torture and death threats to coerce migrants to traffic drugs or serve as hit men.
- Migrants given prison sentences for crossing the border areroutinely separated from their belongings, including identification, all their money, and lists of phone numbers of family members. The lack of resources, proof of identity, and ability to contact support highly intensifies existing dangers.
- Migrants who have spent many years in the U.S. and maintain connections here, such as citizen children, are especially vulnerableto predation by the cartels, which use their family to demand a high ranssm payment.
- Drug cartels targeting assassinations of people from the state of Sinaloa and the rest of the western coast due to regional conflicts,even though most migrants have no connection to the drug trade.
- Migrants who have been kidnapped and have survived have stated that they were told they were on a list targeted for kidnappings.
Additionally, cartels use corrupt police and government agencies intended to assist migrants to funnel recent deportees directly into their hands. According to one letter, “When one crosses the border the municipal police is just waiting and watching for deportees. They pull you over with the excuse that they are going to help you or that you fit a description of a criminal… this is a lie and part of the scam. These police work for the . They take you to an abandoned alley or house and waiting for you is the . At gunpoint your eyes are bandaged and your feet and hands are tied. And so begins the nightmare.”
There is NO excuse for putting people at risk for being kidnapped or killed, especially when there are safe options that are intentionally neglected. The border ports of Agua Prieta and Naco, Sonora, Mexico have not been used for repatriation in over 8 months, even though they are known to be among the safest border towns and are, in fact, often closer to the detention facilities than the dangerous cities where migrants are being sent instead.
In reality, there is NO border city that is safe. Drug cartels and gangs are active in every border city and the violence targeting migrants can shift as quickly as the sites of deportation. However, the U.S. government still has a moral responsibility to take any action necessary to avoid unnecessary risk to human life and increased suffering. The inmates at Torrance County Detention Facility, held only for immigration sentences, as well as all others awaiting deportation, have a right to return to their county in the safest manner possible, including a complete return of their belongings and identification papers.
- Send faxes now.
- Call Janet Napolitano, Director of the Department of Homeland Security: (202) 282-8485
- Call John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): (202) 732-3000
- Call Alan Bersin, Commission of Customs and Border Protection: (202) 344-1780
- Call Franklin Jones, CBP Diversity and Civil Rights Executive Director: (202) 344-1610
- ICE and Border Patrol must stop all deportations through Texas, including the inmates of the Torrance County Detention Facility. It’s just too dangerous, and there are safer options, such as Douglas, AZ, and Naco, AZ.
- There is NO excuse for putting people at risk for being kidnapped or killed, especially when there are safe options that are intentionally neglected.
- Everyone to be deported to Mexico from anywhere in the U.S. must be offered a choice of:
- Interior repatriation, year-round, subject only to the consent of the Mexican government;
- Repatriation to the same point of the border where theyentered, if they entered within the last year; and
- Repatriation to the point of the border closest to their place of origin.
- Everyone to be removed/deported to Mexico must receive their personal effects on departure. This can mean the difference between life and death for many.
- Safety of each port should be regularly assessed, and deportations must not occur in any port where those deported face imminent danger.
In the past few weeks, Connecticut and Nevada have passed transgender anti-discrimination laws. Will the Commonwealth of Massachusetts follow?
For years, legislators have failed to hold a vote on “An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights”. Today, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill. Rev. Sue Phillips, District Executive for the UUA Clara Barton and Massachusetts Bay Districts, testified today at the Massachusetts State House in support of the measure, H502 / S764.
“We have a moral responsibility to stand on the side of love with our transgender neighbors, friends and relatives,” said Rev. Phillips. “And in supporting the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, Unitarian Universalists are upholding the First Principle of our faith: To affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
“Let me repeat that: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. I respectfully request that our esteemed Judiciary Committee Chairs, committee members, and all our Massachusetts legislators hold this simple but profound concept in mind when discussing this crucially important piece of legislation. That you be bold and righteous in your decisions. And that you join us in standing on the side of love.”
To learn more or take action, visit http://www.masstpc.org/More >
Unitarian Universalists Successfully Organize in Massachusetts to Oppose Widely Criticized Immigration Enforcement Program
Six months of steady organizing and public witness on the side of love has paid off!
Standing on the Side of Love and UUA Witness Ministries staff have played a significant role in mobilizing Unitarian Universalists in Massachusetts to stop an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program that has been tearing apart immigrant families.
In what the Boston Globe is calling “a major turnaround on immigration enforcement,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stated Monday that he will refuse to sign on to the controversial federal Secure Communities program (S-Comm), which refers undocumented immigrants arrested even for minor crimes to federal immigration officials for deportation.
The Massachusetts ACLU Chapter said:
“This is a huge victory for civil liberties and for advocacy. A range of groups representing civil rights, immigrant rights, victims’ rights, church groups and local police chiefs urged the Governor to do the right thing – and he has. “
On Dec. 23, 2010, a week after Governor Patrick stunned many by announcing that he would sign on to the ICE program, a rally and action was quickly organized by Centro Presente—a statewide immigrant rights advocacy organization. Rev. Fred Small, minister at First Parish Cambridge UU, was one of the speakers and UUs from around the greater Boston area participated.
In the coming months, Standing on the Side of Love joined Centro Presente, UU Mass Action (the UU state advocacy network), and the Boston New Sanctuary Movement, an interfaith coalition, in urging the Governor not to sign onto Secure Communities. Throughout the winter, Standing on the Side of Love organized to bring UUs in our signature yellow “Love” shirts to rallies and hearings at the Massachusetts State House in support of Centro Presente’s Just Communities Campaign. With UU Mass Action, we collected several hundred postcards from UU congregations to the Governor. We also used social media to generate hundreds of phone calls to Gov. Patrick’s office, urging him not to change his mind and not sign Massachusetts on to the S-Comm program.
On Feb. 14th, national Standing on the Side of Love Day, Rev. Fred Small, UUs from several congregations, and interfaith leaders joined Centro Presente at an action at the State House on Beacon Hill. The action led to a meeting with the Governor where he promised to explore the possibility of opting out of the policy and to hold public meetings around the state to get community input about it.
UU clergy and lay leaders attended and spoke out at every single one of the public meetings, wearing Standing on the Side of Love T-shirts and pins, carrying placards and calling for and end to a program that is harming immigrant families. Among them were:
• Rev. Lara Hoke, UU Congregation of Andover;
• Rev. Lee Blumel, North Parish UU Church;
• Rev. Ralph Galen, Community Church of Lawrence;
• Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo, UU Church of Marblehead;
• Rev. Fred Small, First Parish UU Cambridge;
• Rev. Terry Burke, First Church Jamaica Plain UU; and
• Rev. Jason Lydon, Community Church UU Boston.
UU leaders and clergy from ten congregations, including State Senator Susan Fargo, a member of First Parish in Lincoln, came to the Waltham public event on S-Comm in April, where the Tea Party had bussed in anti-immigrant protestors.
In addition to the public meetings, several UU clergy and lay leaders had phone conversations and meetings with their legislators.
Daryl Bridges, youth director at the UU Church of Medford and recent seminarian graduate, was recruited by the UUA as a short-term organizer to help mobilize Massachusetts residents against Secure Communities during the last several weeks. When a call went out two weeks ago for organizations to sign onto a letter to the Governor, twenty UU congregations were represented among the 100 entities, which also included the Unitarian Universalist Association, the UU Mass Action Network, and the UU Service Committee.
Last week, State Representative Carl Sciortino, a Unitarian Universalist, led an effort urging other legislators to sign a letter to the Governor urging him to reject S-Comm.
With Monday’s announcement, it is a moment to celebrate – Gov. Patrick has chosen not to further marginalize immigrant communities in Massachusetts. But the door is still open for cities to participate in S-Comm, unless state legislation or an executive order is passed prohibiting them from doing so. Plans are already underway to urge Mayor Menino of Boston, the only city that currently participates in the program, to withdraw. Stay tuned!
We need to continue our work to stop S-Comm in every state. Please sign the national petition for a moratorium on S-Comm: http://bit.ly/scommice