• Pastors Need to Preach and Teach About Systemic Racism and Implicit Bias
    Dear Clergy Colleagues, Especially during times of injustice and conflict, we celebrate every sign of God’s grace among us. The killing of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. at the hands of police has rocked Hoover and the surrounding area, so we were glad that an interracial group of clergy met on December 5 to worship and affirm their common faith. But we are also aware how often well-meaning Christians have turned to acts of charity to avoid acts of justice, or even used charity as a screen for supporting the status quo. Charity soothes the conscience, while prophetic proclamation pricks it. Collecting money to care for employees affected by the protest is an action that draws attention to the effects of protest, but not the effects of systemic racism that gave rise to protest; perhaps you could also collect money to pay for bail for protesters? We need to speak plainly, because lives are on the line: We know that many people who are making derogatory, inflammatory statements about the protests, who talk about running over protesters with their cars or turning fire hoses on them, are members of Christian congregations. We know that the kind of counterprotest violence that took Heather Heyer’s life in Charlottesville, Virginia is possible here. We have a series of questions that beg for a pastoral and prophetic response. First, how are you helping your congregations understand the perspective of the protesters? How are you de-escalating violent and racist rhetoric? Are you reminding your congregations that nonviolent protest stands at the heart of our faith traditions? That even Jesus turned over tables in a sacred space? Are you helping them empathize with those who constantly feel the effects of systemic racism? Second, how are you helping them to understand the history of the place in which they live? What public decisions and policies that shaped Hoover were driven by racism? You are probably familiar with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written as a response to clergy who blamed protesters for being “divisive.” In the years since his letter, Jefferson County has divided into over thirty different municipalities, a fracturing driven by redlining, white flight, and other forms of systemic racism. The first attempt to incorporate Hoover happened in 1964, the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed, in order to fight the integration of schools. While many lament “divisiveness” and “polarization” (which are often code words for protest), are you preaching about the divisiveness and polarization of systemic racism? And third, how are you helping them understand the times? Alabama Appleseed recently released a report showing that although white and black people use and sell drugs at about the same rate, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for it in Alabama. Nearly every family in your congregation has been affected by drugs. Are you preaching about the huge racial disparities in the ways our black siblings are affected by policing and the criminal justice system? Have you said the names of victims and preached against the rise of white nationalist violence against people of color? You may already be doing these things. If so, we thank you. We ask these questions because the people we pastor are directly affected by them. Some of us clergy have our own necks on the line, too. If you are not already bringing people together in your congregation in worship or small groups to address the sin of systemic racism and white people’s role in eliminating it, those of us in Faith in Action Alabama stand ready to help you do it. Faithfully Yours, Rev. Dr. David L. Barnhart, Jr. Pastor, Saint Junia United Methodist Church Co-chair of Birmingham Hub, Faith in Action Alabama Rev. Dr. Sondra Coleman Presiding Elder, Birmingham District, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Rev. Cat Goodrich Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton Presiding Bishop, Fifth District, Central Methodist Episcopal Church Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson Pastor, Mount Moriah Baptist Church Rev. Adam Mixon Pastor, Zion Spring Baptist Church Rev. Dr. A.B. Sutton Pastor, Living Stones Temple Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church
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  • Help Medicaid Recipients Keep Their HealthCare
    This is important because having access to healthcare is a crucial part of not only surviving, but thriving, as human beings. Jesus revealed to us that access to healthcare was important to Him; this is why he told us the story of the Good Samaritan. As United Methodists, advocating for everyone to have the economic ability to see a doctor, or to be able to obtain needed surgery, medications, or other treatments is in accordance with our Book of Resolutions. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/health-care-for-all-in-the-united-states
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  • An Open Letter to Doug Jones
    Please know that just as we campaigned for you, we want to work with you to ensure that the voices of all Alabamians, particularly those who have historically been marginalized, are represented during your tenure in the Senate. Again, congratulations on a very hopeful victory. Let’s continue working together to take the next step to uplift all Alabamians. Sincerely,
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    Created by R.G. Wilson-Lyons
  • Tell the UN: Act to stop racist voter suppression in the US
    Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to take part in their country’s government, that civic structures should reflect the will of the people they govern. The United States, at present, stands in clear violation of the Declaration’s mandate for universal and equal suffrage. President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission sought last week to obtain the personal information of all U.S. voters. This request was widely decried as not only unnecessary — given voter fraud’s virtual non-existence — but also as a likely pretense to further suppress voting blocs that are unlikely to support Republican candidates. Such attempts at disenfranchisement would not be unprecedented. 33 states have passed voter suppression laws that disproportionately affect poor, African American, and Latino voters. Moreover, in the 2016 election there were almost 900 fewer voting sites when compared to 2012. An Associated Press analysis suggested such policies, on top of race-driven gerrymandering in states like North Carolina and Wisconsin, could have given Republicans as many as 22 unearned seats in the House of Representatives Moreover, black and brown Americans are disproportionately affected by voter suppression efforts, a shameful reincarnation of tactics employed during our nation’s era of racial segregation and Jim Crow. Unfortunately, while our Justice Department has long fought efforts to deny voting rights, it has dramatically changed course under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In February, for example, the Justice Dept. dropped its objection to a racist Texas voter suppression law — one a federal judge later ruled unconstitutional. More recently, In June the Justice Department sent states a letter intended to push state voting commissions to remove more voters from their rolls. Since we can no longer expect our Justice Department to act on behalf of the disenfranchised, we turn instead to the international community, that you might condemn these crimes. Do not let American democracy continue in its drift towards oligarchy without censure. We implore you to send the strong message that equal and universal suffrage is not an optional commitment, but a fundamental right for all people.
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    Created by Auburn Seminary
  • Reject transphobic rhetoric; stand with Rabbi Silverstein
    As LGBTQI clergy, lay leaders, and allies in a diverse array of faith traditions, we are deeply troubled that Mr. Prager targeted this rabbi, and are alarmed by the attitude of condescension, dismissal, and transphobia that saturates his rhetoric. Beyond that, we find his self-assuredness that compassion is somehow antithetical to the study and interpretation of sacred texts to be unacceptable, and furthermore, dangerous. In this time when unholy acts are being committed around the globe in the name of religion, with the misappropriation of holy texts as justification, we need for than ever for faith leaders to understand and interpret scripture through a lens of compassion and mercy. We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Rabbi Silverstein, his work, and the work of countless other LGBTQI clergy across faith traditions who continue to thoughtfully engage their communities and sacred texts even in the face of those that seek to discredit and silence them.
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  • You Can Stop Frank Barker From Being Deported
    You can stop Frank Barker from being deported. Who is Frank Barker? A father. A grandfather. An uncle, a sibling, a son. A healthcare worker, with degrees in psychology and sociology. A recovering addict, clean for seven years. A volunteer. A formerly incarcerated man putting his life back together. Twice-promoted to manager of Housing at Aligned Services of NYC, ASCNYC. An HIV-positive survivor. A vital part of his community. Frank Barker is many things, but to the Obama administration, he is only a number: one of the eleven million people living in fear of our unjust deportation system. And if we don’t act now, Frank may very well join the over 1000 people deported from their loved ones every single day. Can you help Frank and his family breathe free? Frank needs a temporary stay of removal to delay his deportation. Here’s how you can help: •Write a letter of support using the template below and send it to The New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC; •Sign the petition below; and •Share this request far and wide to help keep Frank with his family. Forty years ago, Frank was brought to the U.S. from the Caribbean at age nine (born in Nevis). Since his arrival, he earned two degrees and has worked in healthcare since 1986, raising a beautiful family: his daughters Kristan and Myah. His grandsons, J’cion and Ja’kei, parents, siblings, and numerous nieces and nephews—all are U.S. citizens; count on Frank for financial, emotional, and spiritual support. Along the way, he’s made mistakes—substance dependence that led to several convictions. He served his time, got clean and is now a better man for it. To make amends and give back to our community, he began volunteering for Aligned Services Centers of NYC (ASCNYC), an organization that cares for sick people without homes. Through his passion and hard work, he was hired, and has since been promoted twice and is now their Housing Placement Manager. In spite of these contributions to our community, ICE locked Frank up for 12 months, only releasing him because they did not want to pay for his health care. Frank is sick—he takes 15 pills a day—and needs to be closely monitored by his doctors to stay alive. A deportation now could very well be a death sentence. It doesn’t have to be. We can keep Frank here, at his job and with his loved ones. Please take action today: write a letter, sign the petition, and share Frank’s story with your friends. Help Frank Barker and his family breathe free.
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    Created by Jenna Sooknanan
  • Investigate Bishop Dewane
    Since 2006, Catholics in Southwest Florida have been suffering under Bishop Dewane and asking for an investigation into his misconduct. He has intimidated and banished workers and his violent outbursts and unpredictable anger have become a pattern which, in the name of justice, demands an investigation. After years of letter writing and local action, Catholics in the diocese are writing again to Pope Francis, and asking for the support of others around the country. (For more information on the pastors and parishioners leading the campaign, visit www.cta-usa.org/SWFL)
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    Created by Jim FitzGerald, Call To Action
  • Stop the Deportation of Rickley Lionel
    Rickley is a 24 year old, hardworking young man who has been living in the United States since he was 11 years old. Rickley and his brother Voidette came to the United States to join his mother. Rickley attended high school and has been working in construction since. Voidette, Rickley’s brother, has a disability that limits his opportunity to independently go out and he requires extensive care. Rickley has always been a father figure to Voidette and has been helping his mother with taking care of Voidette. Rickley has two daughters, Emily and Allysi, of 7 and 4 years old who both have American citizenship. Rickley worked in construction in order to help support his family. Rickley has been held in detention since November 2012, and he has only seen Alyssi on one occasion. In June 2013, Rickley was transferred to Alabama and his family has not been able to visit him. Rickley’s father has never been involved in his childhood and Rickley grew up in an environment where domestic violence was not uncommon. Rickley was arrested because he had drugs on him, but the plea agreement which he took also included the sale of drugs. This is not true. However, as a result of his arrest, ICE began a deportation case against Rickley, even though that would mean that Rickley would be separated from his family. Rickley has taken ownership for his past mistakes and is determined to overcome his past struggles by focusing on the future. Rickley has been baptized last August, regularly attends bible classes, and encourages other detainees to get involved as well. The Obama administration has directed local ICE officers to exercise discretion. However, ICE has failed to exercise discretion for Rickley and they are continuing to advocate for his deportation. Additionally, last summer the Obama administration announced a program to defer the deportation of persons who arrived in the United States as children. Rickley and his family desperately want him to remain in the United States, the only country that he considers home. Please sign this petition asking ICE to follow their own directives and not deport Rickley.
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    Created by Sarah de Mol
  • Stop Luis Guerra's Deportation
    Luis is a 24 year old, hardworking college student who has lived in the United States nearly all of his life. He is a law abiding, contributing member of our community, yet ICE is continuing to pursue his deportation, and not allow him to remain with his family here in the United States. Luis came to the United States when he was just nine years old, to join his mother and escape the violence in his native Mexico. He eventually obtained his GED and is currently working towards a degree in graphic design at a community college. He also works full-time for a delivery company to help support his family, which includes his mother, step-father and two, younger United States citizen step-siblings. Luis has never been convicted of a crime. At age 18, Luis was wrongfully arrested and spent more than one year incarcerated at Rikers Island before all of the charges against him were dismissed. As a result of that arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a deportation case against Luis, even though he was not convicted of any crime. Since then, Luis has been fighting against his deportation. The Obama administration has directed local ICE officers to exercise discretion and not deport individuals like Luis. However, ICE has failed to exercise discretion for Luis and they are continuing to advocate for his deportation. Additionally, last summer the Obama administration announced a program to defer the deportation of persons who arrived in the United States as children and have obtained a certain level of education (DACA). Luis meets all of the requirements for DACA, yet his application was denied. Luis and his family desperately want him to remain in the United States, the only country that he considers home. Please sign this petition asking ICE to follow their own directives and not deport Luis.
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    Created by Rachel Kling
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