We Commit to Physical Distancing and Social Solidarity
As leaders of faith and moral courage, we often call people together for worship, connection, service, and action. We now have an obligation to act to mitigate the worst impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This obligation includes canceling large group gatherings and encouraging community members to stop unnecessary travel and stay at home. As leaders, we're also called to help our congregations and communities stay connected. We know that while physical isolation can save lives, emotional isolation can be deadly. We call on every moral leader to lead now. Let's find new ways to deepen our faith, strengthen our fellowships, and support our communities while we're 6-feet or more apart! Sign on and share to promote #FaithfulDistance!
Black Presidents and Deans Say: No More Stolen Black Lives!
We make the following demands: Public Policy: ● The removal of military equipment from our neighborhoods as tools for policing. ○ The end of the 1033 Program, whereby Congress transfers excess military equipment to local police agencies for use in counter-drug activities. ● The immediate work to create police reform initiatives as well as community oriented policing methodologies to include the following: ○ A revision of police union contracts so that police are held accountable for misconduct, to include clarity about “excessive force.” ○ A moratorium on no-knock warrants for drug-related arrests. ○ An end to “broken-windows” policing. ○ The implementation of swift and strong fines against persons who make emergency calls to police departments based upon false allegations against Black citizens. ○ State and local level public policy initiatives that ensure police review boards comprise citizens representing its diverse neighborhoods. Effective policy requires community oversight. ○ The refusal to hire/retain any officer who has a history of excessive force and misconduct. ○ An end to the practice of aggressive police persons not receiving repercussions and prosecution when they cross the justice line and end the process of internal policing, powerful police unions, powerless civil arbitration boards, and ineffective external (non-police) review boards being used to release accused police persons from justice. ○ An end to the standard of reasonableness that allows police officers to shoot to kill Black and other racial minorities on the officer’s assertion that they feared for their life. ○ Pressure on insurance companies to demand changes in police procedures and policies used by police departments that consistently lead to high incidents of police brutality against racial minorities by refusing those departments coverage. ● The immediate clarification by the FBI that Black Lives Matter is not a “black identity extremist” movement. American Academy of Religion/ Society of Biblical Literature: ● The immediate development and support of the Policing in Black and Brown Communities Initiative that will work with journalists who cover religion. Black people’s religious conceptualizations drive the way they move in the world. Through AAR/SBL support, this initiative’s aim is to place scholars of religion in conversation with mainstream journalists around the country so that the narratives around our lives convey truth and sensitivity. Association of Theological Schools: ● Include on its agenda for its upcoming Biennial Meeting a time for the Presidents of ATS schools to discuss what is both the impact and theological work needed to address the consistent killings of Black people. During our lifetimes, we have placed our credentials and often our very bodies on the line doing the work of justice-making for our communities. Now is no different. In the days to come, we will do all in our power to resist the evils of racism in the many forms it presents itself, especially in our political systems and schools of higher education. We will not allow the violence directed at Black people and US citizens protesting against police violence to be baptized in religious symbolism as if to say that is the way that our faith, any faith, that follows the way of love and justice demands we obey. Instead, we join the collective response to those who seek justice, liberation and the end of white supremacy. NO MORE. Contacts: Pamela R. Lightsey, [email protected]; Matthew Williams, [email protected] The full petition text and complete list of original signers and co-signers are hosted by Auburn (Updated June 4, 2020): https://auburnseminary.org/statementfromblackpresidentsanddeans_4june2020/ Original Signatories: Rev. Angela D. Sims, PhD, President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School Rev. Valerie Bridgeman, PhD, Dean and VP of Academic Affairs, Methodist Theological School in Ohio Rev. Pamela R. Lightsey, PhD, VP of Academic Affairs, Meadville Lombard Theological School Marsha Foster Boyd, PhD, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, Luther Seminary The Rev. Vanessa Lovelace, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Lancaster Theological Seminary The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President, Starr King School for the Ministry Leah Gunning Francis, PhD, VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, Christian Theological Seminary Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Yolanda Pierce, PhD, Professor & Dean, Howard University School of Divinity Rev. Kirstin C. Boswell-Ford, M.Div., Associate Dean of Student Support Services, Brown University Rev. Maisha Handy, PhD, Provost/VP for Academic Affairs, Interdenominational Theological Center Rev. Stephen G. Ray Jr., PhD, President, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Micah L. McCreary, PhD, President, New Brunswick Theological Seminary Matthew Wesley Williams, M.Div., Interim President, Interdenominational Theological Center Elías Ortega, PhD, President, Meadville Lombard Theological School
Poor People's Campaign Calls on United Nations to Hold Trump/U.S. Accountable for War Crimes
Dear Commissioner Bachelet, We write gravely disturbed, indeed outraged, by the death that is occurring because of our President’s rogue actions in the Middle East. His willingness to bypass congressional approval, violate international law, pardon convicted war criminals, implement harsher sanctions and abandon existing peace deals, sets a dangerous precedent that can have continued lethal and destabilizing results. The U.S. President's order to carry out a lethal drone strike violated the UN Charter's prohibition on the use of force. The assassination of General Qassim Suleimani represented an act of war against a country with whom the United States was not at war. Trump’s claim of imminent danger from Suleimani is unfounded and must be investigated. The threat to add new sanctions to Iran, and to involve the NATO military alliance, all indicate that the threat of war remains very real. Furthermore, we know that the majority of impact from these sanctions will be on the poor. We will not be silent as our president publicly announces willingness to commit a minimum of 52 violations of international law and war crimes — attacking civilian and cultural centers, including churches, museums, mosques and libraries in Iran. Further, Trump has said he would do it once again without authorization from Congress. Indeed, these are disturbing, world-altering actions which, if allowed, will bring war that could escalate to world-wide proportions. As U.S. moral advocates and faith leaders who understand our collective accountability to human rights for all around the world, we are requesting your immediate intervention in the present moral crisis. The United States, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, threatens international peace and security. The United Nations, beginning with its human rights system, must respond to its violations of human rights, its violations of international law and the UN Charter, and its violations of the laws of war. The lives of people in the Middle East and around the globe hang in the balance. The lives of those we represent — among the 140 million poor and low wealth in the United States, 43% of the U.S. population — also hang in the balance as the world teeters on the precipice of a devastating war. Dr. Martin Luther King taught us that “war is the enemy of the poor.” War is a crime against the poor civilians of Iran, Iraq, and the whole Middle East region, who pay for U.S. wars with the destruction of their lives, their health, their homes and their country’s environment. It’s a crime against the poor of the U.S. as well who pay with their tax dollars going to the Pentagon instead of to jobs, health care and a green new deal. And who pay with their lives and health through disproportionate service in the military. As a nation, we cannot seek goodness and peace while at the same time pursuing the evils of war. We cannot uproot systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the false moral narrative while embracing militarism and the war economy. We believe that the international community, through the United Nations, alongside mobilized social movements of poor and marginalized and committed people, must respond to these violations of human rights, the violations of international law, the threats of more war crimes to come. It is with profound humility and careful moral discernment that we are urging you to help hold our government accountable for making war on the Middle East and on its own people. Respectfully submitted, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II President, Repairers of the Breach Co-Chair Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis Executive Director, Kairos Center Co-Chair Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival [Following in alphabetical order] Joyce Ajlouny General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee Sr. Dottie Almoney ELCA Deaconess Community Rev. Traci D. Blackmon Associate General Minister Justice & Local Church Ministries The United Church of Christ Phyllis Bennis Institute for Policy Studies Bishop Yvette Flunder The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Imam Khalid Griggs Vice President Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Roshi Joan Jiko Halifax Abbot, Upaya Zen Center Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness Rev. Teresa Hord Owens General Minister and President Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Reverend Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson Executive Director Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Valarie Kaur Sikh activist Founder of the Revolutionary Love Project The Rev. Cindy Kohlmann Co-Moderator, 223rd General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Rev. Dr. John Mendez Pastor Emeritus of Emmanuel Baptist Church Progressive National Baptist Convention Rev. Mary Katherine Morn President/CEO Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Wendsler Nosie Sr. Former Chairman and Former Councilman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe Vanessa Nosie San Carlos Apache Tribal Member Sister Noreen Stevens ELCA Deaconess Community Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner National Director for Religious Affairs, Repairers of the Breach Minister, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey Rabbi Arthur Waskow, PhD The Shalom Center Rabbi Elyse Wechterman Executive Director Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Min. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove School for Conversion