|Photo Credit: ABC News|
While studying the Bible together, a young man, apparently well-schooled in racially inspired hatred and animosity, announced he would kill those gathered simply because they were black.
There are no words to take away the anger, pain, sorrow and loss of the families and friends of the victims and the community of Charleston, or that will adequately address the outrage of those among us who have spent lifetimes working for the dismantling of racism and its systemic supports and the promotion of goodwill among all.
There are, however, words to address this senseless act: STOP THE VIOLENCE! STOP THE HATE! JUST STOP IT! Pass sensible gun laws that protect society from the animosity of the few. Reinstate the legal protections that many fought and died for, like equal voting rights legislation and equal educational opportunities and job programs. Teach and practice love before all other options. Teach and practice kindness, compassion, acceptance, generosity and appreciation of difference. Someone taught that young shooter that difference was to be eliminated, not reverenced as a part of God’s good design.
There are words we can all remember and hold on to for inspiration and guidance as we move through this tragedy. A little over 50 years ago, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, facing a similar tragedy with the murder of 4 little girls at Sunday School in a Church in Alabama, called the nation and the world to accountability when he said, those who have been taken from us have something to say.
“They have something to say to every minister of the Gospel who has remained
silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows. They have something to
say to every politician who has fed his constituents the stale bread of hatred and
the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government
that has compromised …. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we
must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned
not merely about WHO murdered them, but about the system, the way of life
and the philosophy which PRODUCED the murderers. Their death says to us
that we must work passionately and unrelentingly to make the American dream
All of us can and must do something every single day we are blessed to grace this earth to make that dream of a world at peace with its God-given diversity a reality. As the saying goes, “See something, say something.” Never ever allow a racist remark to go unchallenged or pass for humor. Push for strict and enforced gun legislation that will eliminate easy access to weapons that do nothing but take life. Challenge legislators to reinstate the principles and practices of law and governance that challenge inequality and promote the value, dignity and worth of each life. Preach, teach and practice the ways of nonviolence.
As we collectively mourn this needless tragedy at Mother of Emanuel, let us remember the promise of that community’s name ~ that God is with us ~ and that we can do all things through the One who strengthens us.
Let us pray to the Mother of All Life for the courage to do the things and live in the ways that bring peace to this earth and honor the promise of all life.
Let us pray together ~
The people of Mother Emanuel have faced hatred and oppression in the past, and have risen like a phoenix from the ashes of despair and heartache with you by their side.
We pray that they will once again rise from this painful moment, and will be an example of hope that cannot be destroyed, integrity that will always survive, and community that no prejudice can divide as we stand together in solidarity.
Holy One, bless the dear people of Emanuel AME Church and all of us, and let the power of your love bring healing to the hearts and minds of people everywhere who continue to face hatred, injustice, and undeserved pain.
And, loving Spirit, we pray also for the assailant who took innocent lives. Even as Justice demands that he be held accountable, mercy also requires that we pray for the healing of his soul, and for all souls that have not learned to replace blind hatred with love of self and
We are continually alarmed by the number of people, especially youth, who are subjected to so-called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” that seeks to teach them that their sexual orientation and gender identify or expression is inherently evil and can be changed. This is not only an affront to our religious beliefs, it has been repudiated by the American
Medical Association and the American Psychological Association and condemned by those who have survived it. It is spiritual and psychological abuse, and it is time to end it. Only two states (California and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia have statutory bans on “conversion therapy.” Several high profile teen suicides (Leelah Alcorn and countless others) offer us a wake up call. We have the power to create meaningful change in the lives of marginalized youth. We enlist your help to ban such harmful work in
every state in the nation.
Here are some actions you can take to help end so-called “conversion therapy” and to save the lives of countless LGBTQI persons who are forced to endure it:
Photo Courtesy: Out & About Nashville
and State Senators and ask them to sponsor legislation that would ban “conversion therapy.” State legislatures are meeting now. If you need help crafting talking points, the Public Policy Team can help you.
Leelah begged us to do these things. In her suicide note, she said, “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f****d up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.” Do it for all the other youth whom we do not know. Help ban “conversion therapy” everywhere. All of God’s children deserve our love, support, and action.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at email@example.com.
This action alert was prepared by the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.
Dear America, we greet you as Christians who believe that freedom in Christ means that all persons deserve respect and equality before God and the law.
Today, we pray for Ferguson, the family of Michael Brown, and for people everywhere who are impacted by racism. We write to you as spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and join with the millions around the world who grieve the death of Michael Brown, who shot down with eight bullets while unarmed and holding his hands in the air. We grieve that the grand jury felt there was not even enough evidence to have this case go to trial. We grieve that so many people are in denial about the realities of racism today.
MCC was founded almost 50 years ago to provide a spiritual home to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We have been a target of hate, and we come from all races. We know all oppression must be challenged because every person is created in the image of God. It is time for all faithful people around the world to pray and act to end racism.
As Christians, we remember how Jesus was challenged to go beyond his own cultural prejudice by a woman who was of the scorned Canaanite race. (Matthew 15:21-28) We remember the lives of so many African Americans who heard the Gospel and knew they were meant to be free. We remember all those of every race who have been willing to stand up — and even lay down their lives for freedom and justice — regardless of race, language, or identity.
As citizens of the world, we decry the use of war equipment to attack peaceful demonstrators. We stand up and speak out against the systematic criminalization of people of color. Just as Jesus overturned the tables of power and exploitation, surely Jesus would condemn a system that targets people by their skin color and economic status.
We must drop all pretense of so-called color blindness and pick up the mantle of prophecy to urge everyone to learn the facts about racial discrimination. In particular, to understandFerguson, we must understand the larger realities of African Americans:
Humanity has the power to do great good. Systemic racism can be dismantled. The Berlin wall was toppled. Apartheid was overthrown. Nazi Germany was defeated. Slavery was stopped. Systems of oppression are constructed by human beings and can be deconstructed by human beings. Will it be easy? No, but like every good thing we work for, it will be worth the effort. Our only regret will be that we did not act more quickly.
We urge all people of good will to ACT TODAY.
The Council of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches:
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Dr. Mona West, Rev. Hector Gutierrez, Rev. Darlene Garner
A diverse coalition of faith groups has come together to oppose gun violence in the U.S. Faiths United, which MCC and the Global Justice Institute have endorsed, is inviting congregations, houses of worship, and people of faith to participate in the annual Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend (Thursday – Sunday, December 11-14, 2014). The timing coincides with the anniversary of the elementary school shootings in Newtown,Connecticut. Sponsors hope to double participating from the previous Sabbath’s 1,000 places of worship. The weekend will start with a special December 11 event in the nation’s capital hosted by theWashington National Cathedral. It will include an interfaith service honoringthose whose lives were lost to gunfire, special prayers for their families, and training sessions to help community leaders implement strategies to reduce gun violence.
To aid you in these and other efforts, Faiths United is providing the following resources:
Through faith, we find the inspiration to be the blessed peacemakers the world so desperately needs.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
17 July 2014 -‐-‐-‐ Today, as Israel and Hamas took a brief recess from their 10 -‐day war, only to have that lull in fighting marred by the deaths of 4 Gaza children hit by missiles while playing on the beach near their homes; while violence claimed the lives of innocent civilians from the airport of Kabul to the streets of places like Syria and Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, someone shot an airplane out of the sky over Donetsk in the Ukraine, an already war-‐ravaged area of the globe. Fields with purple flowers became the unintended resting place of 295 people on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The flight manifest has yet to be released, but we know from our friends around the world that at least 5 AIDS activists on their way from points in Europe to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne were among those lost.
At times like this, our hearts are broken for the families and friends, the allies and co -‐workers of all those lost to violence and the senseless tragedies it produces. While many on the airwaves debate who is responsible for the tragedies, I am drawn to the example of Jesus, who when pressed by the crowds of unrelenting needs around him for relief and healing and peace, would go off to a lonely place to pray.
And so, I ask all MCCers and people of faith to join me in prayer now.
We give you thanks for the gift of life,
and the chance you give to all of us
to live each day with a heart for compassion and care
and a spirit attuned to peace.
We mourn all our brothers and sisters lost
to violence and needless violence and tragedy today,
especially those on Malaysia Airlines flight 17
and those 4 little boys on the beach in Gaza Cit y.
Be with their families and friends left behind,
and help them to find some comfort in knowing that
they are at peace with you, and that
we will all one day be together again.
With a full heart, O God, we pray for
peace on this earth
and goodwill among a ll.
Regardless of our political persuasions or belief systems,
help us to renounce all violence and to seek to live
in a way that promotes the wellbeing of all your children.
Give us all the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Christ,
Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. +Amen
The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
An Italian advocate for transgender rights and former member of parliament was detained at the Olympics for unfurling a rainbow flag with “Gay is OK” on it. Russian officials denied it, but the Italian foreign ministry activated its crisis protocol for Italian travelers in trouble.
Russian President Vladamir Putin showed up last week at a celebration party for Irene Wust, an openly lesbian gold medal winner from Netherlands. Just days before, outside of the Olympic arena, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) supporters were arrested during a peaceful protest.
When the Olympians go home, it will be business as usual. Orthodox Church leaders will continue to work hand-in-glove with the political machinery that scapegoats LGBTQ people. The lack of outcry against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws are producing a climate where gangs now go “hunting” to track down gays to torture them. Their impunity is so great, that many were willing to be filmed for an upcoming documentary without disguises while they humiliated and brutalized a person they identified as gay.
Read more on the Huffington Post here
|International STAND UP to Bullying Day is a special semi-annual event in which participants sign and wear a pink “pledge shirt” to take a visible, public stance against bullying. The event takes place in schools, workplaces, and organizations in 25 countries across the globe on the third Friday of November to coincide with Anti-bullying week, and then again on the last Friday of February.
International Bullying Prevention Association
The mission of the International Bullying Prevention Association is to support and enhance quality research based bullying prevention principles and best practices in order to achieve a safe school climate, healthy work environment, good citizenship and civic responsibility.
It has taken more than three decades of academic study of bullying behaviors, public revelations and attention to the true consequences for those who bully and those who are bullied and world-wide media coverage of incidents of unspeakable cruelty, suicide, and homicide, to bring educators, students, law enforcement, health care workers, and parents together in a global effort to do something about it. Bullying hurts and for those involved, the hurt can last a lifetime. As a world, we are learning that bullying behavior can be the root of serious violent situations in our schools. Many countries have adopted policies and procedures for Safe Schools.
Project Anti-Bully is a non-profit 501(c)(3) run by students for students that raises awareness of the prevalence of bullying in schools globally through community-based research. Project Anti-Bully has headquarters in the United States of America and affiliates in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, El Salvador, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Taiwan, The Philippines, and Uruguay.
Pink might seem like an odd color when trying to get people to take a stand against bullying. The color is completely based on a stand that was taken in the fall at Central Kings High School, in Cambridge, Nova Scotia. A freshmen student was making his first appearance in a new high school. The boy showed up in the morning wearing a pink polo shirt. Some school bullies verbally abused him for his choice of color. They used some vulgar words, and made him feel very upset. Two senior students heard about the bullying taking place, and decided to take a stand against it. http://www.standupday.com/08/
Anti-Bullying Week 2013 is calling on children and young people to take the lead on creating a future without bullying – using new technologies. http://www.bullying.co.uk/
Together we can stop bullying and create safe environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn. http://www.anti-
Anti-Bullying Campaign (ABC) South Africa
The aim of the ABC is to oppose the culture and practice of bullying within the CRC/Children’s Movement – and to lay the basis for a culture of tolerance and peace, and a commitment to using peaceful methods to resolve conflict.
ABC committees have been established in most of the communities and schools where the CRC/Children’s Movement operates. The formation of the ABC has given rise to the establishment of a Girl Child Organisation as part of the children’s movement. http://www.childrensmovement.
Anti Bully & Abuse Foundation
The ABA Foundation will stand as a national body where people can turn to and feel safe, a structure where children and parent experience a tangible, physical system protecting our children, and working towards a safe school environment. http://abafoundation.
Rob Frenette, 20 and Katie Neu, 18 the Founders of BullyingCanada.ca, a Youth-Created Anti-Bullying Website are very pleased to announce the official launch of a national toll-free line for youth, parents, and the general public up to date information related to bullying.
As some areas of the country return to normalcy, schools start the year tackling bullying problems
A program to reduce bullying within Chile’s schools has shown positive results since its introduction in 2005. The Paz Educa Program aims to produce and promote observation-based research in order to prevent school violence in Chile.
In the US – October – Bully Prevention Month
This month, groups across the country committed to stop bullying will release new resources, campaigns, and efforts aimed at bringing awareness to this important issue facing our youth.Bullying Prevention Month is not new. In fact, it has been around for several years. What started as an awareness week initiated byPACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in October 2006, the event has evolved into a month’s worth of events and activities to raise awareness and provide the latest resources to those who need it. National partners in 2006 included the National Education Association, National PTA, American Federation for Teachers, and National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education. PACER recognized that students, parents, and people throughout the country needed to become more aware of the serious consequences of bullying. The point of National Bullying Prevention Month was to transform a society that accepts bullying into a society that recognizes that bullying must – and can – be addressed through education and support. Read more at StopBullying.govPacerJoin the movement!The End of Bullying Begins with Me: that’s the message during PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month in October. It’s a time when communities can unite nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach, and education. Resources from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center make it easy to take action. PACER created the campaign in 2006 with a one-week event which has now evolved into a month-long effort that encourages everyone to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement. Get your toolkit and more. Print the Digital Petition Flyers and display them at your school or organization. Elementary Petition Flyer Middle / High School Petition Flyer
How It Got Started
National Bullying Prevention Month was started in 2006 by the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to raise awareness about this important issue and what people can do about it. Communities, schools and individuals are encouraged to participate in understanding this problem and getting involved in outreach efforts and educating people. Businesses and organizations like Facebook, Yahoo!Kids and CNN have gotten involved to get the word out. PACER was inspired to create the month as a way of showing people that bullying isn’t just a “rite of passage” for every kid, for some it can lead to terrible emotional, psychological and physical pain that no one should endure.
“Make it Orange and Make it End,” is the Unity Day slogan. This year Unity Day is on October 10th, people are encouraged to wear the color orange on this day to show their solidarity with the bullying prevention cause, even Ellen DeGeneres got involved last year by wearing an orange anti-bullying shirt on her show! You can also hand out “unity” ribbons and buttons at your school or write “unity” on your binders to create awareness.
What Can I Do?
If you want to get involved with National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month you should let your parents, school and classmates know. There are lots of activities available via the Bullying Prevention Center, as well as group activities and discussions that you could easily organize in your class and among friends. Here are a few ideas for supporting the cause:
Read more: Bullying Prevention Awareness Month http://www.kidzworld.com/article/27443-bullying-prevention-awareness-month#ixzz2cdlhVjXu National Child Traumatic Stress Network In support of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is providing resources for families, teens, educators, clinicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement personnel on how to recognize, deal with, and prevent bullying. Read more.
Featured NCTSN Resources
Teaching Tolerance When nearly one in five students is bullied each year, it’s no wonder the topic is on educators’ minds. Teachers want to make their classrooms safe, supportive learning environments. Administrators want positive school climates. Both are looking for tools to reach these goals. To meet their needs, Teaching Tolerance offers an abundance of professional development tools, classroom activities, magazine articles and blogs dedicated to the topic. When you have an immediate question, though, finding what you’re looking for among such extensive resources can be daunting.
NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me
The NEA Bullying Prevention Kit
Designed by educators for educators, this kit reflects the best available research on bullying prevention. To access different subject areas, click on the colored tabs. Download here
ESP RESOURCES AND TOOLS
For Principals and Teachers
Enough is enough! Stand4Change and help put an end to bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month in the US, the NYTimes has updated their full list of resources on bullying and cyberbullying for the occasion.
Use the links below to find resources on bullying and cyberbullying:
STOP The Drama… END The Hate… STOMP Out Bullying
A National Anti-Bullying And Cyber Bullying Organization For Kids And Teens
STOMP Out BullyingTM Student Participation Toolkit
Act Against Bullying And Cyberbullying Now
Today we join our voices with many others calling for an end to the rampant violence against LGBT people in Russia. Reports of anti-LGBT violence continue to be received, including harassment, physical brutality and government condoned murder of LGBT people since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
Prominent British broadcaster Stephen Fry likened the new laws to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews earlier this week, and on Thursday, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations was personally confronted on his New York doorstep by activists wielding a petition signed by more than 300,000 people.
“The events unfolding in Russia should rightly cause concern for all fair-minded citizens of the world. They’re a complete travesty meant to divert the attention of the Russian people from President Putin’s failure as their leader,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz.
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute (GJI), said, “We, as human beings, must not remain silent while any of our lives are criminalized. It’s not simply the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly that are at stake here, but our very lives when you consider the rise in violence and increased rates of HIV in areas where LGBTI life is deemed illicit.” She added, “Russia, and indeed the world must be put on notice: Attempt to silence any of us and you will hear from all of us.”
The GJI calls for an end to violence against LGBTQ people in Russia around the world. We call on fair minded people of faith to join efforts to speak against these acts of violence and murder and to stand in solidarity with those who are victimized. We call on members of the clergy to speak boldly for the divine value of every person. Finally, we join our prayers with those of people of faith for an end to the victimization of LGBTQ people in Russia and around the world.
This statement prepared by Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt on behalf of
The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director.
Contact: Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt at