In the midst of the moral and humanitarian crisis we are facing in our nation, this image from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship reminds us of our common humanity. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship acknowledges the depth of the struggle for justice, stating, "We know that the karma of slavery, policing, and anti-Blackness is unbearably heavy in this country. And it is our responsibility to burn through this karma with clarity, compassion and willingness to act."
"Racism is a virus. It infects the spirit." (The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III)
Words and actions from other faith traditions:
The United Church of Christ minister Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III's riveting and challenging sermon, "The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery" was preached Sunday, May 17, 2020. While the sermon was delivered before the killing of George Floyd, the critical need for his words is even more apparent now. On Sunday, May 31, Rev. Moss offered another sermon, "When Is Someday?" suggested as a prelude to the May 17 sermon. Both carry messages we as a nation and as people of faith need to hear.
"As people of faith, we must bear witness to this moment. That means that we must name hard truths, but we must also act," states the first line of the pledge the Unitarian Universalist Association is inviting their members to sign. It continues with a reminder of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorouly as we condemn the riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?" See full statement, suggested organizations to support, and pledge here.
"The brutal murder of George Floyd is the consequence of a racist system that disproportionally targets people of color for violence, imprisonment, and premature death," said Shanene Herbert, American Friends Service Committee's (Quaker) director of the Healing Justice program in Saint Paul, Minn. Read the full statement here.
The organization T'ruah: the rabbinic call for human rights lifts up the Jewish teaching that, "one who sheds blood is considered as having diminished the divine image." "We say once again: Black Lives Matter. And we commit to creating a country that lives by this statement." Read their full "Statement on the Murder of George Floyd and Violence against Protesters."
"As an organization which advocates for the needs of the most marginalized, we do what our Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) taught us: to firmly confront what is hateful and destructive to life, love and community. Our faith is incompatible with systems of racial hierarchy. We are taught to always promote justice, work to end suffering, and seek abolition of that which is cruel and unjust," states "A Letter of Solidarity in Support of Black Rage" from CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) San Francisco Bay Area. Read full statement with concrete suggestions for actions here.
The National Council of Churches' statement acknowledges, "Deplorably, while the coronavirus has infected the U.S. and been the cause of death for more than 101,000 people in less than three months, racism has infected this country since its beginning and this virus has seeped into every aspect of American life."
The Christian Science Daily Lift program offers this perspective in a 4 minute podcast by Trudy Palmer, "Our part in responding to injustice."
Every Sunday, 8-9pm PST
#HonorLivesLost is a network of organizers and advocates dedicated to memorializing and uplifting incarcerated people we lose to COVID-19 & #DeathByIncarceration in CA.
Click here to visit their Facebook page for more information.
"Let me say, as I've always said and I will continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. ... But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity."
Click here to for youtube video of King delivering this excerpt of his speech.
ADVOCACY: The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has created a “Have a Heart Toolkit,” including a variety of ways for individuals to lovingly convey to Governor Newsom the urgency of releasing detainees from detention centers that are a dangerous breeding ground for the COVID. Click here to learn more, watch videos from people inside detention centers, and find out how you can join this effort! (Photo explanation: On April 10, immediately before joining the hunger strike, Mesa Verde dorm C created a heart formation on their yard that was captured by supporters on the outside.)
AID: Immigrants in our communities are suffering mightily during this time of COVID. In addition to health risks, immigrants are not eligible for several of the federal support programs, and are, in some cases, in desperate financial need. In other cases, immigrants are considered "essential workers" but not provided necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) or allowed to observe safety practices. Please consider donations to one of the following local organizations, or other programs you know are helping immigrants:
On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice held its first virtual Peaceful Presence gathering. While we missed seeing each other as embodied, real people, the service, hosted by Eric Sabelman of the Palo Alto Friends Meeting, was beautiful! Through images, readings, prayers and music, we found a true Peaceful Presence. The added plus of such an event is that we can (somewhat) share it easily with all of you now.
Click here to download a PDF file with the slides of all of the images we saw and the readings and prayers we heard. At the end you will also find the sources of music Eric played.
Watch for an update with plans for our May 11 Peaceful Presence.
In the meantime, as the final reading reminded us, we can view the empty streets and parks as "the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness in our lifetime." (These are the words of a West Belfast Community Worker named Tommy Holland. Go to slide #30 in the PDF to read the whole quotation.)
"Anne Frank didn't die in a gas chamber. She died because she caught a contagious disease in a concentration camp. We have seen this before. We won't let it happen again. Never again is now." (Never Again Action)
ACTION ALERT FROM NEVER AGAIN: Call or email Governor Newsom's office today and say: “Hi, My name is [name], I'm a [state] resident living in [city]. The detention centers in our state are going to become death camps for the immigrants locked inside, unless Governor _______ uses his/her emergency powers to release them immediately. Will the governor empty the detention centers today?” Click here for Office of Governor Gavin Newsom's webpage with phone number and email form.
Never Again Action, a movement of Jews, allies and immigrant partners, reminds us, "Deadly outbreaks in detention centers; it’s a matter of if, not when. UNLESS our governors use their emergency powers to empty the detention centers in their state, before they become de facto death camps."
"We call on governors across the country to use their emergency executive power to order the release of all immigrant detainees in their states. Protect immigrants from this virus, for their safety and for public health. We hope that our governors will choose the path of morality AND public safety. If they don’t, we will pressure them until they do."
From the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity:
A coalition of over 60 legal service providers and community organizations in California sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the administrators of local ICE detention facilities demanding that they release all individuals held at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility and the Yuba County Jail, starting with those who are at highest risk.
As city and state governments take drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, this letter adds to the chorus of community organizations across the country calling for the release of incarcerated people.
Use your faith voice and share your faith values when you call and email David Jennings, Acting Field Office Director, and demand that ICE release all people from detention, beginning with the most vulnerable.
Some people have experienced difficulty with phone calls, please do not feel discouraged. Send an email, if the phone is not accessible.
CALL David Jennings (Acting Field Office Director, ICE) Keep reading more suggested script.
Click here to read MVPJ's article about NEVER AGAIN ACTION Campaign, similar to this one, pressuring governors to use their emergency executive power to order the release of immigrant detainees in their states.
"The Report (which is available for streaming through Amazon) dramatizes the brutality of the 2002-2007 CIA torture program, as well as the political battle to make the failures of that program public," writes the Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman, a longtime member of MVPJ's steering committee and local pastor.
"Watching The Report is not easy, but it is nonetheless important viewing. Each of us must take seriously our obligation as citizens to take responsibility for the actions of our nation. All of us must push our leaders toward policies and practices which reflect the highest moral and ethical standards of our faith traditions, so that we might become a more perfect union."
Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns.
Click here read Altman's full and powerful Opinion piece in Unbound: an interactive journal on Christian social justice.
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice hosted a viewing of this film followed by discussion
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) has set up a process which will allow us to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other targeted communities in our local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way. Examples of triggers could be receipt of hate mail, defacing of property, threats to the well-being of the community or to a member of the community. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will work with your community to discern the most faithful and safe way to respond. These MVPJ solidarity responses will be faithful, peaceful demonstrations of solidarity and friendship.
When an action is needed, our email subject title will be “IMMEDIATE LOCAL RESPONSE NEEDED,” and the body of the email will include instructions as to where and when to gather.
If your community is targeted or threatened in some way, and you want to ask for a public show of solidarity, or simply discuss this possibility, please contact us through this email: email@example.com. You may certainly talk with anyone on the MVPJ steering committee personally if you prefer, however the "firstname.lastname@example.org" email is set up to be checked every day for a quick response.
When we are back to gathering face-to-face, if your community feels it wise to evacuate its premises due to a threat of any kind (such as a bomb threat or threatening graffiti) and needs an alternate space for worship or study on short notice, we have several congregations who are willing to host you if at all possible. You may inquire about this offer through email@example.com and we will help you connect to these communities as quickly as possible.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Non-Violent Commitment
In all actions that we take, members of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice commit to the principles of non-violence, and pledge that all their actions will be peaceful, respectful, prayerful and non-violent.
On August 11 local Jews and Quakers joined together to lead a powerful Multifaith Service of Lament and Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees. More than 200 people participated.
The Lament was part of a national effort that connected the 9th of Av (August 11th), the Jewish annual day of mourning over displacement, discrimination and murder of Jews through their history, with the experience of today’s immigrants.
The Quaker Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees invited participants to sit in silence to listen to the Spirit which guides human affairs and inspires both immediate words and future action.