Join Faith Leaders In Demanding Congress Support the Equality Act
As people of faith, we urge Congress to support the Equality Act. Our faith traditions teach us that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight, cisgender, and queer people are all created with sacred dignity and worth. We are taught to respect and love others as ourselves in our words, deeds, and laws. Now is the time to update our federal laws to respect and uphold the sacred dignity and worth of all people. In doing so, we will live up to our nation’s values of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all.
In our country today, LGBTQ people—our neighbors, family, friends, and fellow congregants, and for some signatories, we ourselves— are at risk of being fired from a job, refused a place to live, refused service in a place of business, told to leave a bathroom, or refused critical medical care because of who they are or who they love. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or, gender identity is unjust and immoral. We call on Congress to remedy this injustice by passing the Equality Act. This legislation ensures equal protection for all people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
As people of faith, we believe it is possible to both protect LGBTQ people from unjust discrimination and uphold the freedom of religion. That freedom is one of our nation’s most fundamental values, which is why it is protected in the Constitution and remains protected under the Equality Act. As people of faith, we rely on this freedom every day to hold the beliefs we choose and to practice our faiths free from discrimination. It does not give us the right to harm or discriminate against others or impose our religious beliefs on others. We value the freedom of religion and the freedom from discrimination, and we urge Congress to protect both by passing the Equality Act.
We believe equality is a right. Our nation’s laws must uphold our values of loving and caring for our LGBTQ neighbors as ourselves. As people of faith, we have an obligation to be part of healing the world. We will not cease in pursuing our commitment to these values until Congress has passed legislation protecting all people from discrimination and fully funds enforcement of these protections. We lament the ways in which religion has been used throughout our nation’s history to justify discrimination, including on the basis of race. We refuse to be complicit in attempts to use religion to marginalize LGBTQ communities.
We call on Congress to pass the Equality Act today.
Click here to Join Faith Leaders In Demanding Congress Support the Equality Act
Our nation faces one of its most grave crises. We are watching the chief executive amass unprecedented power, defying the rule of law. Nothing in our history has prepared us for this challenge to our Constitution, to our statutes, to our interactions among the branches of government. We are fighting for the soul of democracy. No one can stay idle in the face of this challenge.
I was born in the early wave of the post war “baby boom”. I grew up with “Holocaust Consciousness” followed quickly by awareness of post-war threats to our own democracy in the wave of anti-communist fervor from many in Congress and society. Then came a growing awareness of the evils of Jim Crow segregation. To say I was a scared little kid would be an understatement. I remember my parents watching the Army-McCarthy hearings, not understanding much other than the danger to innocent people, Hearing my parents and their friends talk about those threats to democracy and equality, to justice and fairness was pretty overwhelming.
I have dreaded the day I’d have to find my courage to stand up against something as evil and scary as fascism had been in Europe. Would I have what it takes to resist? To be as brave as Miep Gies who hid the Frank family? To defy authority in the name of democracy and of my faith in Jesus’ teachings on justice for all people?
In 2003, just before the start of US bombing of Iraq, I participated in an 8-state convening against hate crimes that even then were on the rise. The last night we saw a film about German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his anti-fascist resistance during the Third Reich. In the discussion that followed, the group leader said, “Be prepared from here on, to lay down your life for what you believe.” When asked what that meant, he said, “Devote your life to standing for justice. And, if needed, to lay down your life for that purpose.”
It was incredibly sobering and frightening to hear this. Would we need to do this? In America?
We at the Council of Churches have tried to live by that principle: lay down your life for what you believe. Some of you know that we have been under siege from vandalism and threats for doing exactly that. Some of our denominational affiliates have been contacted by extremists demanding they drop out of the Council, always by those who detest our stands for equality and for justice. No one has dropped out, and the retaliation, while minor, has resulted in vandalism, stalking, threats.
And yet we have stayed the course. Did we have any real alternative?
Now we call on all of you to do whatever you can for love of our fellow human beings, for the preservation of democracy, for the protection of the rule of law.
Remember the “Faithful Five Minutes” of calls to your elected officials every day. Bolster the strong, chastise the weak. Speak up and out for justice and our Constitution.
Rally when you are able. Join diverse coalitions of immigrant rights groups, labor, racial justice groups, civil rights groups, and diverse faiths then go to your representatives’ and senators’ offices, both federal and state level. Fight for the rule of law. Stand against oppression. Keep abreast of current events. Speak out where needed. Your voice is powerful.
We are struggling to keep the soul of our nation intact. This is the greatest threat we have faced since the Civil War. Today as I write, it is the 154thanniversary of the Confederate surrender, the Army of Virginia, to the forces of the Union Army at Appomattox. It saved the nation. Can we do this again, this time we hope without the bloodshed?
Only our actions through law can prevent another civil war, another rise of dictatorial power, another threat to democracy and our constitution.
I may be retired, but I will never stop working against injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
Please do whatever you can, however you can, for as long as you can. Our nation’s survival is on the line.
Thank you. Blessings on all you do.
Director Emerita Public Policy
Words of greeting.
Words of peace.
“Hello Brother” were words from a young Muslim man who stepped up trying desperately to deflect the gunman entering a Christchurch, NZ mosque Friday March 15th. The words, meant to stop the shooter, were the last words the Muslim man spoke. He was killed. Forty-eight more lost their lives before the rampage through two mosques ended.
In this latest of horrors, the rampant self-justification from the shooter’s own words shows he thought Muslims deserved to die. As the shooter in Pittsburgh, PA earlier shot down Jews for the same demented reason and Dylan Root shot nine Black AME Christians in Charleston, SC. They deserved to die for simply being who they are. Sikhs slaughtered in WI, Unitarians in TN. These are the victims of both religious hate and racial hate, but many more acts of violence have taken down people just trying to live their lives. We are losing count.
This isn’t a “Muslim problem”. This isn’t a “Jewish problem”. This isn’t a “Black problem”.
It’s a white Christian problem.
Before anyone says, “not all white Christians”, let us consider, in our hearts, if we have done all we can to make sure we didn’t turn a blind eye, stay silent instead of speak. Have we earnestly done all we can do to stop the new global wave of white, Christian terrorism, for that is what this all is, from spreading unchallenged? We have to search our hearts and our lives to see if we can do more.
I, for one, am tired of showing up after the fact. I hate candle light vigils and don’t attend them. I’m sick of press conferences decrying bloodshed and loss of valuable lives. I’m anguished by the sense of impotence at failing to prevent another senseless massacre. I’m frightened that there will be more.
Forty nine dead in New Zealand. Eleven in Pittsburgh. Nine in Charleston.
When will it end?
We are in the grip of an administration that demonizes “the other” be it immigrants, Muslims, people of color. We have unleashed waves of hate and resentment from white people who think equality means a loss to them. Males who see female equality as a threat. If you have to enforce your superiority with violence, are you really superior at all?
We can’t dismiss this thinking that we would never do this kind of thing to anyone. It flourishes if we tolerate it, if we don’t actively stop it. Silence is tacit assent.
We have to stand up, speak out, act affirmatively not passively in the name of our country’s promise and our faith’s direction. This isn’t on Muslim, Jews, Sikhs, Unitarians. It isn’t on Black people, Brown people, immigrants, indigenous people.
It’s on us: white, middle class, mainstream Christians. We are the only people who can speak out and uphold these truths of nation and faith. We can stay silent no more.
Hello brother. Hello sister. Hello everyone. End the silence. End the violence. It’s on us.
Hearing the news that this administration was reversing the unholy practice of family separation was a brief relief. Never doubt for a second that your voices were loud and strong and that it made a difference in changing the policy by 180 degrees!
The Executive Order was issued 40 minutes ago. That should protect anyone not yet detained.
However, it does not protect those children and adults already separated, already in detention, already transported. We learned from Gov. Mario Cuomo that children were smuggled into a foster care center in New York City. They were flown to New York from border holding centers and have no idea where they are or where their parents are. One was 9 months old.
We need to keep our voices strong for getting access now to these centers. We need licensed social workers, Red Cross, human rights groups all to be able to start identifying children. We need to start a DNA registry for them and the adults. And we need to do this now.
Please call your representatives today and every single day from now on. You may call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. You may also contact them through our link here
Our "ask" is twofold - first we want our supportive elected officials to get access to these centers followed by immediate access by qualified personnel to start the reunification process and provide help to these children as we did in 2016 for the unaccompanied minors.
Second we want every representative to vote NO on both House immigration bills. These would restore the Draconian and inhumane treatment and make these separation policies actual law.
Another step to take
We have learned that ICE is transporting children on airlines, moving them out of reach of their parents, all under the guise of their being "sports teams". Flight attendants report the children are terrified and unable to speak up for themselves in this despicable transport. Today United Airlines and American Air both stated emphatically they will NOT be allowing such transport on their planes.
Please write to whatever airline you use often or any that you know about. There are email public contacts on both their customer pages and corporate pages online. Tell each airline to follow the lead of United and America - do not transport minor children being moved by ICE or Customs and Border Patrol. Before and during WW II, transport companies became complicit in moving Jews and Nazi prisoners of war. We cannot and will not tolerate these actions toward immigrant children, and neither should they.
Please continue to speak out. Please observe our Faithful Fridays to try to see House members in your local district. We made a significant change this weekend on behalf of families. We cannot let up now.
From our friends at staywoke.org:
We just released a Report revealing how Police Unions and Associations prevent California lawmakers from addressing police violence.
Read the Report here.
Here are some of the major findings:
It will take all of us to convince legislators to stand up to the police associations and pass bills that address police violence and accountability.
Here’s how you can make a difference today:
Go here to find your California state legislators, then call them and tell them to support four important bills:
And if you’re interested in joining a group of researchers, students and activists working on projects to address police violence in California, reply to this email.
CA Council of Churches IMPACT CEO Recognized As One of NARAL Pro-Choice CA's 2017 Champions of Choice
When reproductive freedom is at risk, we can’t settle for quiet allies. We need champions who will put their power to work to protect our rights.
We need people who won’t be intimidated by virulent opposition, because they understand what’s at stake. Reproductive freedom is about our economic security, our career paths, our ability to determine our futures.
The 2017 champions of choice are a shining example of just this kind of leadership. In the face of relentless attacks on reproductive freedom from Trump and the GOP Congress, we need more people to follow their example and fight for us in every city and county, in every courtroom and cultural outlet.
Please support NARAL Pro-Choice California's important work in every way you can!
Well, before we could pin down a decent analysis of the House of Representatives Tax Cut plan, they passed it. They passed the bill this morning 227 to 205.
It seeks a tax cut of $1.4 trillion – yes trillion – over 10 years, cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% though without eliminating corporate deductions at all.
However, it does eliminate deductions for ordinary people including the SALT deduction on State and Local Taxes. High-tax states on both coasts would be harmed in paying into the federal system than the states receive back, and adding to that burden by removing the SALT deduction.
This additional tax burden was sufficiently onerous that 8 New York and New Jersey Republican House members voted against it, but still the bill passed.
The Senate Tax plan
When House and Senate bills are at odds, they go to Conference Committee for reconciliation. That will become important, because if the Senate plan passes – it has not yet been up for a vote – it has some very dangerous provisions that, if passed and incorporated into the final bill, will do Americans enormous harm.
“To Promote the General Welfare…”
Our nation has too often lost sight of our obligations to one another. In a world of hyper-individualism and personal accumulation, we are not committed sufficiently to the care of those whom the society has abandoned, kicked to the curb, or cannot help. Now that indifference has moved upward on the economic scale, and the plan erodes many of the social programs we depend upon.
Under budget reconciliation, cuts in one place have to be paid for elsewhere. Tax cuts to the 1% will come out of social spending. While technically Social Security, Medicare, etc. are protected, that protection is not absolute. Still other programs are totally vulnerable to cuts. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
But what about tax cuts for the middle class?
In 2021 this Senate bill will raise taxes for households earning $10-30,000, and by 2027 that will include households of $30-75,000. The rationale offered by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Mike Crapo is that if you are not required to pay for health insurance, you can afford this tax hike. The sheer absurdity of stating that these two things are benefits boggles the mind. But with health subsidies and those credits gone, the actual tax hike is significant.
We must act against these policies that do so much harm – and do so NOW. This is a “Faithful Five Minutes” to do daily until we defeat these bills.
Please call your Senators at 202-224-3121. If you prefer to write or email, go to: http://www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html
Even if your senators are opposing these cuts, tell your brief story of how this would do you or someone you know real harm. Legislators on our side still need your voice to share with those who are on the fence.
Keep calling or emailing your Representative – they need to hear your opposition to any kind of joint resolution on the House and Senate bills.
Tell friends and family in other states to do the same.
Our rallying point is:
Tax and health justice for the Common Good and for the General Welfare!
NONE of these cuts is acceptable, and we as people of faith call on our elected federal officials to vote against the Senate bill and any such provisions that may arise in a joint bill.
We defeated the elimination of the Affordable Care Act that is hidden within this tax bill. We can and must defeat this Senate plan now!.. All we have worked for and accomplished is at risk – raise your voice now for justice!
In a world gone mad with 24-hour blasts of information that doesn’t inform, breaking news that isn’t news, angry attacks on everything from Mom to apple pie, what and whom are you supposed to trust?
California Church IMPACT exists to do its utmost to be a trusted source of information, a reliable guide to understanding secular policy as it intersects our faith world, and — most of all — not to lie.
There is nothing you and your congregations do that is not affected by public policy. How we take care of “the least of these” in our midst, when we pay taxes and for what, what services exist or are to be cut that makes our outreach to those in need better or worse – all of these things affect us.
We do our level best to bring you accurate information, especially beyond what seems obvious, to counteract the avalanche of information that spills down on us daily. We work to cut through the fog of double speak. We look under the surface to find what else is lurking that might have grave consequences to our collective work that are not apparent.
Are we perfect? Goodness, no! But we strive to be honorable and accurate in what we see within our state and federal policy. And we tackle many diverse topics so you can get somewhat closer to “truth” than you will find anywhere else.
What would you do without us?
Then we ask you to act. We ask you to mobilize; to speak “truth to power”. We can do that only by offering the best analyses of what that truth is, what facts are clear, what lies behind a particular legislative bill or policy, and why it all matters.
We are engaged – and engage you – in advocating for policies that enrich our nation, not just the few. We stand for health care, racial justice, civil rights for all people, food security and other essential assistance to those our society has left behind. We work to find within our state the path to funding programs the federal government seeks to eliminate but that are desperately needed nonetheless.
We ask you to raise your voice on behalf of what is just and right – on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves – and to make clear that half a loaf is not better than none. It’s just as bad morally when there is money for more.
We ask you to be brave, to defy convention, to take the road less traveled in what we affirm within our democracy. We provide you with the tools, the resources, and the pathway so that your voice is effective. And we are constantly reminded that they know us well in the Capitol, even in the Governor’s office, because we never let up, never back down, never stop.
We will keep working to keep you well-informed, to counter the “fake news” and sloppy thinking, so you can keep working to make California and America a just and moral place for all.
What would you do in this work if IMPACT were not here with you?
We have never backed down from standing up to anyone, Democrat or Republican, who violates our principles of respect and equity for all God’s children. No exceptions.
We therefore need two things from you:
Now we need your donations to help keep us moving forward. Every penny will help us continue being your voice and source of analysis in both Sacramento and in Washington DC.
We need you to help expand our reach. Please get others who are not on our advocacy alerts to sign up. The more voices we have, the more effective we can be. Work with us to include more youth and young families in this work.
We need your help to make sure our progressive allies can stand up and state clearly and strongly that a significant portion of the faith community is solidly behind them. We respect the right of anyone, especially those in the faith community, to express differing opinions and positions on social issues. The problem right now is that only the regressive faith-based voices seem to be getting the media attention. Many legislators want to do the right and compassionate things – but they need our support to be able to take the public heat.
Please support the important work of California Church IMPACT with your generous support. Help us be the voice of the voiceless. Help us stand for justice and compassion. Help us be faithful to the Gospel call to prophetic ministry.
Please make your contribution today by mail or online below. We need to hear from you soon!
For those of you already donating, especially monthly, thank you!! Your support means the world to us.
Rick Schlosser, Executive Director, and Libby Sholes, Director of Public Policy
California Council of Churches IMPACT will join with our interfaith coalition and the CA Immigrant Policy Center among many others to press for the passage of SB 54 that protects the rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
We are calling all people of faith including clergy to join us on the North Steps at 9 am tomorrow, Thursday September 7 on the North Steps of the Capitol at 10th and L Streets in Sacramento.
We will bear witness on behalf of immigrants everywhere. SB 54 prohibits the use of state funds and resources to seek out and offer up immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation, and it protects the rights to immigrants with due process when they are apprehended. This is also our time to stand with "Dreamers" who are now under threat of being deported if Congress does not uphold their pathway to lawful presence and ultimately citizenship.
California's economy depends on immigrants. More to the point, we never had barriers to immigration when our free forebears arrived. We stand for the humanity of all people who seek the same hope and rights our historical families did.
Please come rally and let your voices be heard. If you cannot join us, please call your Assembly members and let them hear you even if they can't see you.
The Rev Dr Rick Schlosser