The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, December 22, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
My name is Seth Kaper-Dale. I have co-pastored a church in Highland Park, NJ with wife wife since 2001. For the past 10 years I have witnessed the tremendous suffering of Indonesian nationals in my congregation and in 7 Indonesian-speaking congregations in our area. Due to our country’s convoluted immigration system, dozens of asylum seekers are being torn from their families and sent back to dangerous circumstances in Indonesia.
In the late 1990s, large numbers of Indonesian Christians came to the United States on tourist visas to escape religious persecution by some extremists in their majority-Muslim home country. Nearly 500 Christian churches were burned between 1998 and 2004 alone. For over a decade, these asylum seekers have been living, working, and paying taxes in the United States and many have American citizen children.
Now, dozens of these refugees in New Jersey and New Hampshire have received deportation orders. Though all have legally filed for asylum, their cases were closed simply because they missed the one-year filing deadline due to a lack of understanding of the complex process. Massive deportation has already broken up over 100 Indonesian Christian refugee families and now immigration officials will separate more parents from their children and send these individuals back into harm’s way in Indonesia.
Fortunately, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) have submitted a bill, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act, which would allow the Indonesian Christians to reopen their asylum claims and grant them the opportunity to remain legally in the United States as refugees. As Rep. Maloney said, “The United States has long sought to protect refugees fleeing persecution and provide a process to fairly consider their claims. These individuals came to this country, seeking relief from extreme violence and persecution for their religious beliefs, and deserve a chance at asylum. This bill does not, in itself, grant asylum, but merely removes a procedural barrier, keeping these families from being ripped apart.”
Please click here to ask your Representative to cosponsor HR HR 3590, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act. Dozens of lives are at stake.
Please keep these families together and safe by asking your representative to cosponsor HR 3590. If we are a country that values families and religious freedom, it is our duty to help this community of Indonesian Christian asylum seekers. My church cares about lots of issues–affordable housing, interfaith work, food security, green projects, LGBT initiatives…but right now there is nothing more important to us than the work of keeping these Indonesian families together in safety.
Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale
Reformed Church of Highland Park, NJ
We here at Standing on the Side of Love are incensed at comments made on Fox Chicago Sunday by Cardinal Francis George, which we first read about on Towleroad.com.
Apparently, Chicago’s Pride Parade may be re-routed this year in a way that has it passing by a local Catholic parish, which might disrupt its Sunday mass if there are crowds of parade-goers in the streets and sidewalks. We’re all for respectful dialogue about the best way to accommodate all parties’ interests who are along the parade route. But this statement by the Cardinal is simply repugnant:
“You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism,” said Cardinal George.
The Cardinal was challenged by one of the Fox reporters, who asked, “that’s a little strong analogy…?”
“It is,” replied Cardinal George. “But you take a look at the rhetoric. The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who’s the enemy? The Catholic Church.”
Watch the video for yourself, noting the limited choice of images from the very diverse Chicago Pride Parade that Fox Chicago chooses to use.
This is hardly the first time that members of the Catholic hierarchy have stepped way over the line in their choice of language. Still, it never fails to shock us, anger us, and sadden us. And Cardinal George is no outlier. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010. After Illinois passed civil unions, he stated, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
The real sting is that Cardinal George repeats his tired, defensive posture — i.e. our religious freedoms are threatened, the moral fabric of our society is under seige — to act like a victim being accosted by a malicious gang of immoral marauders who are nothing more than white-hooded members of the KKK.
But it’s the Catholic Church through its Catholic Conference lobbying arms have fought tooth and nail in state after state against sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination laws. Laws that help prevent people from getting fired. Laws that make sure parents can put food on the table for their children. The Catholic Conferences have put millions upon millions into preventing any relationship recognition — marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships — from becoming laws that can protect families in vulnerable times. And they have put millions more into enshrining that discrimination into state constitutions across the land, using rhetoric that is psychologically harmful to LGBT people and our families.
What’s most frustrating is that we know that most Catholics don’t agree with the hierarchy and its rhetoric. Poll after poll remind us that Catholics are more supportive than many other faith communities of marriage equality.
We need outrage from pew-sitting Catholics at the tone of these comments! Cardinal George should apologize immediately for his disgraceful analogy that reduces all of us — you and me, gay and straight, the very faces of the “gay liberation movement” — into nothing more than a hate group.
Get in touch with Cardinal George. Ask him to reconsider his comments and issue an apology. Above all else, approach this conversation with the greatest amount of love you can muster, lest we give credence to his beliefs that “the gay liberation movement” is full of angry hate-mongers. Our issue isn’t with Catholics — it’s with those leaders who use divisive, incendiary language and tactics to suppress an entire group of people and our families.
You can leave a message for Cardinal George through his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FrancisCardinalGeorgeOMI
Or try the Diocese Catholic Information Line: 312-534-8204
Note: It appears that many Facebook comments are being deleted. Another way to reach Cardinal George is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, December 20, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Next week, I’ll head to Cape Cod to celebrate Christmas with my fiancé and my in-laws. I’m excited that the holiday will overlap with Hanukkah and I will bring with me the tradition that is the simple joy of lighting the menorah at the darkest time of year and commemorating the miracle of life itself, as I see it. As I count my blessings – and they are manifold – I include on that list the fulfillment I have leading the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. I find such inspiration in calling myself an integral part of this community, of lifting up your stories, and thinking of ways to work with all of you to make a real difference. Thank you for your partnership, your faith in love and justice, and your genuine, cooperative spirit.
In just a few weeks, we’ll find ourselves in a New Year, and personally, I am really anticipating our upcoming campaign, Thirty Days of Love: The Story of Us, The Story of Now, running from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on January 16 to Valentine’s Day.
For the THIRTY DAYS OF LOVE we will provide you with resources for guided theological reflections, activities for creating a collective vision, as well as opportunities for self-reflection, sharing our stories, lifting up courageous love, and taking concrete actions now as we examine where we go from here.
This past year has opened up tremendous new opportunities. Just last week, Time Magazine named its 2011 “Person of the Year.” The winner? “The protester” – from the demonstrators across the Arab world to the Occupy Wall Street movement that continues to make headlines.
“There’s this contagion of protest,” Time managing editor Richard Stengel said on NBC television. “These are folks who are changing history already and they will change history in the future.”
Standing on the Side of Love is about far more than just protests – it’s about a movement that begins with our selves, and is rooted in our congregations and communities. It’s a movement that translates our faith in a better, more loving world into individual and collective actions with those who are marginalized and discriminated against because of their identity. And yes, it’s a movement of tremendous activism! THIRTY DAYS is a celebration of all of this.
I hope the holidays and New Year will be a time of positivity and renewal for you, as well as for our whole, beautiful, encompassing community.
Standing on the Side of Love
Last week, sometime in the early morning hours on Friday, December 9th, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach was vandalized with spray paint and what was apparently intended to be hateful words. It is unclear whether the person or persons who did this meant these words to be specifically against Unitarian Universalism or perhaps just a rant against some sort of religious institution. No matter how they were intended, it is clear that when these acts occur the fabric of civil society tears a little more.
Unitarian Universalists celebrate diversity of theological beliefs and are guided by seven principles. Our congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits and live our faith through acts of peace, love and social justice in our communities and the wider world. Our seventh principles states, “we respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”; therefore, we lift up the concept that what happens to one truly does happen to all. When this kind of vandalism happens it can challenge the trust and hope that we have for the world.
Whenever events like this occur in a community there is public speculation about what it meant. Questions naturally arise as to the motivation of the offender. The answer clearly has to be that we have no idea. We will all view these events (as we do all events) through our own lens, our own hopes, our own fears, and in general our view on life. We have no idea what was in the mind of those who did this unless they want to come tell us, which we would welcome. These acts remind us that we are always in control of our own thoughts and feelings, the way we respond, and the actions we take after the incident occurs.
The sign at the front of our congregation says we “stand on the side of love.” These are not hollow words. Standing on the side of love happens in both good and challenging times. We are sorry for the pain in the person or people who performed this act, and we have felt pain here in our community, but we are confident that we will continue to stand for love.
We are filled with deep gratitude for the beauty of our campus, and although we love the natural beauty of the surroundings, what truly matters are the people who have needed to be a part of this community now and in the past, and those who will come to be a part of this community in the future. People of all loving communities of faith should be free to speak their hearts without fear or intimidation.
Although deeply unfortunate, this is not the first example of intolerance of religious diversity in this community nor in this country and it may not be the last, but we will move through whatever comes, together, firmly standing arm and arm, hand and hand and always on the side of love.
Rev. David A. Miller and the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito
Cell – 619-876-7456
A Unitarian Universalist congregation in Solana Beach
1. You will receive 10% off your order.
2. You will receive free standard shipping*.
3. Beacon Press will donate 20% of total sales to Standing on the Side of Love!
Simply use Promo Code LOVE11 at checkout.
*Due to the increased volume of mail shipping during the holiday season, we cannot guarantee orders submitted after December 13 will arrive by December 24. If you would like to ensure your package arrives by that date, we offer paid shipping options via UPS.
Looking for book suggestions? You’re in luck! Check out these Beacon Press titles that relate to the important work advocated for by Standing on the Side of Love:
The 2011-2012 UUA Common Read:
Acts of Faith is a remarkable account of growing up Muslim in America and coming to believe in religious pluralism, from one of the most prominent faith leaders in the United States. Eboo Patel’s story is a hopeful and moving testament to the power and passion of young people-and of the world-changing potential of an interfaith youth movement.
More Religious Activism:
Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition
In Prophetic Encounters, Dan McKanan challenges simple distinctions between “religious” and “secular” activism, showing that religious beliefs and practices have been integral to every movement promoting liberty, equality, and solidarity. From Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the nineteenth century to Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Starhawk in the twentieth, American radicals have maintained a deep faith in the human capacity to transform the world. This radical faith has always been intertwined with the religious practices of Christians and Jews, pagans and Buddhists, orthodox believers and humanist heretics. Offering a history of the diverse religious dimensions of radical movements from the American Revolution to the present day, Prophetic Encounters invites contemporary activists to stand proudly in a tradition of prophetic power.
The 2010-2011 UUA Common Read
For the last decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into Arizona in overwhelming numbers, a state whose anti-immigrant laws are the most stringent in the nation. Fourteen-year-old Josseline, a young girl from El Salvador who was left to die alone on the migrant trail, was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains. With a sweeping perspective and vivid on-the-ground reportage, Regan tells the stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy.
God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality
The myth that the Bible forbids homosexuality—the myth of “God versus Gay”—is behind some of the most divisive and painful conflicts of our day. In this provocative, passionately argued, and game-changing book, scholar and activist Jay Michaelson shows that not only does the Bible not prohibit same-sex intimacy, but the vast majority of its teachings support the full equality and dignity of gay and lesbian people. In short, Michaelson observes, religious people should support equality for gays and lesbians—not despite their religion, but because of it.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspires:
“All Labor Has Dignity”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Michael Honey
People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform. As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap, and the near collapse of a financial system that puts profits before people, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today. They help us imagine King anew: as a human rights leader whose commitment to unions and an end to poverty was a crucial part of his civil rights agenda.
“Thou, Dear God”: Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Lewis Baldwin
“Thou, Dear God” is the first and only collection of sixty-eight prayers by Martin Luther King, Jr. Arranged thematically in six parts—with prayers for spiritual guidance, special occasions, times of adversity, times of trial, uncertain times, and social justice—included are both personal and public prayers King recited as a seminarian, graduate student, preacher, pastor, and, finally, civil rights leader, along with a special section that reveals the biblical sources that most inspired King.More >