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
Pope Francis asked a stunning question: “Who am I to judge?” This was in response to inquiries about whether or not there are gay priests in the Vatican — the now-renowned “gay lobby.”
In a 90-minute interview returning from his travels in Brazil, an affable, relaxed Pope Francis covered a range of topics, but the “who am I to judge?” response made the world do a double take.
“Who am I to judge?”
Well, the pope! You are the pope who inherited two millennia of, well, pontificating about what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s immoral.
I am sure the Vatican leaders are wringing their collective hands over a pope who may be viewed as a security and PR nightmare. He may seem out of their control, dispensing mercy and off-the-cuff pastoral kindness that blurs the lines of official church policy and pronouncements. We could almost feel the winds of Vatican II blowing.
My hope is that this is not just the kind of rock-star popularity that masked the sometimes-kind conservatism of John Paul II. He gave “warm fuzzies” to big crowds but became increasingly dogmatic as a corrupt system of financial and sexual exploitation lurked beneath the surface.
Pope Francis’ step toward humility was stunning, but few are naïve enough to think that everything has changed. Gay priests must still be celibate, and Pope Francis declared that “the door is closed” on the ordination of women. But what the pope did in that interview was to begin to live up to the Catholic Church’s own teachings about humankind.
Honestly, if all Christian denominations and traditions lived up to their own teachings about humanity, there would be a great revolution of respect. But that respect must include women as full human beings, worthy of greatness — worthy of ordination — and it must include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.
I sincerely hope this pope really does want to shake up things. Celibacy should be optional. Catholic women need the church to move into the 20th, not to mention the 21st, century and recognize their full eligibility for the priesthood. Sexual assaults on children must be eliminated. Decisions about contraception, reproductive health and choice should be in the hands of women, not by unaffected men who like to dictate policy. The use of condoms to save lives through prevention of HIV/AIDS must be commonplace. A revolution of respect can happen!
Virtually every faith tradition has a core belief that human beings have inherent worth as creations of God. The inherent worth of each human being means that Christians should be aghast at the brutal murders of gay men in Russia, Cameroon, Yemen and even in theUnited States.
In South Africa, where so-called “corrective rape” is used mostly against lesbians but also against transgender people and gay men, the brutality is shocking and too often endorsed by family members. Duduzile Zozo was raped with a toilette brush and left to die in early July. Bishop Tutu presided at her memorial service and famously said that he “would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.”
Most anti-LGBTQ rapes, beatings, tortures and murders happen with little comment because it is too dangerous to report the assault or murder of a gay friend or family member for fear of police reprisal. Even with high publicity, the Cameroon police do not seem to be pursuing the person(s) who murdered gay rights advocate Eric Lembembe. Instead, Cameroon police arrested three organizers who have been critiquing the lack of action by Cameroon officials!
Where are the faith voices? Pope Francis, we urge you not to be silent! Use your moral weight to stop vicious attacks and cruel persecution. Promote a campaign for tolerance. We do not have to punish people for being different!
Why are Christians silent when Eric Lemembe is tortured with a hot iron in his own home? Why are Christians silent when lesbians are raped — even raped to death? Why are Christians silent as Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and so many other countries pass laws that make talking about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people punishable by prison or fine?
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently condemned LGBTQ people and promised to cut off our heads. Pronouncements like these are de facto endorsements of street violence, mob attacks, family rejection and official persecution against anyone who is perceived to be LGBTQ — as well as against their families. Mugabe is a Catholic who should hear from his new pope that violent homophobia is unacceptable for Catholic leaders.
Although the pope did not suddenly change the church’s view that LGBTQ people should remain celibate, whether as priests or as lay people, he did tell Christians around the world that it’s time to live up to the highest values of the faith rather than descend to base disrespect for human beings.
Pope Francis modeled a more tolerant approach to LGBTQ people. He is the first pope to use the word “gay.” Tolerance is a humble platform from which people across the world can be speaking out for mutual respect. It is not a perfect platform, but it appears that it might suit a pope who doesn’t think of himself as infallible but as a human being who respects God’s good diversity. How refreshing!
As the head of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in 40 countries, I know that it is time that Christians step up and strive to fulfill the basic teachings of Jesus: Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit prisoners — and, like the pope, judge not.
Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Calls for Prayer and Personal Discernment
as Zimmerman Trial Verdict is Released
Earlier this evening, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman, a now 26-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when, walking to his father’s home through a residential area in Sanford, Florida on a rainy evening , he was shot in the heart after an altercation with Zimmerman. Wearing a hoodie and talking on his cell phone, having just purchased a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea, Martin became a symbol of young people of color across the United States who are often targeted by law enforcement, shop owners and other citizens as “suspicious.”
Approached and followed by Mr. Zimmerman for this reason, a physical fight ensued that would end in the death of a child, and come to symbolize our nation’s on-again/off-again struggle to accept and value its diverse citizenry.
As a community of largely LGBTI people of many religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of us know what it is like to be viewed with suspicion simply because of who we are. Many of us still live in parts of the world where our sexual orientations or gender identities are sufficient to endanger our lives.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents, appealed for peace in the wake of a verdict and said that they could finally see “the end of the tunnel.”
The real end of the tunnel for all of us will be on that day when we stand face to face with the Creator God who made us all and pronounced all life good. In the end, we will be invited to share one table together. The Gospel of Matthew says people will come to that table from East and West, North and South, meaning from many directions.
I know the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches may be coming from many directions with regard to this case and all the issues it has raised, from racially motivated animosity to the use of firearms. People around the globe suffer and struggle daily with the loss of children’s lives to violence — violence that is often times fueled by the failure to value the diversity of God’s creation.
Yesterday at the United Nations, another child targeted by violence, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan named Malala, spoke to the world saying that education is the key to a future of peace and good will for all of us. Shot because she was a girl wanting to go to school in a culture devaluing its female children, she said, “They thought that the bullet would silence us,” but what really happened was that “weakness and fear died…and courage was born.’
I urge all of us on this night when many of us may be reacting with shock, disbelief and anger and others with support for a legally rendered verdict, to really search our hearts and minds and spirits for the ways prejudice and fear have weakened our commitment to the prophetic vision of a world where lions lay down with lambs, and little children play safely over adder’s dens. I urge all of us as people of faith to recommit to the Biblical injunction against taking a life for any reason. The legal standard for “self defense” can never replace Scripture’s call to love others as God loves all of us.
Pray with me this night for the family of Trayvon Martin who, regardless of a verdict, lost a child to fear and violence. Pray for the day when all of us are at ease in the presence of difference and see only in each other’s faces a brother or sister in Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair. For more information or to arrange further comment
contact The Rev. Jim Merritt, Public Policy Team Communications, at