People of Faith Demand Better

People of Faith Demand Better June 20, 2016

Together with my colleague Rev. Kevin Wright, we invited our community Sunday to demand better from each other and from our country.

Riverside PrideAMY:

This week found us deep in grief, the growing fear pitting us increasingly at odds with each other.  Why did this happen? Who deserves the most sympathy? Where can we place the blame?

KEVIN:

As our cacophony of questions grew louder, all of us could feel the distance between us growing, leaving room for fear to fester.  But we, we who work to live in justice-seeking, peace-loving community, know that fear shuts us down and closes us off from each other.  This is not the way we were created to be human in this world.

AMY:

Exactly one year ago I played for you a recording of the voice of Dr. Clementa Pinkney, a pastor just like me, who was slaughtered in Charleston.  In his church.  I said then and again and again since then: gun violence in our country is an epidemic and there is a desperate need for people of faith, people like us, to stand up and say enough is enough.  Ideologies that create and nurture a culture of violence cannot take root among us, and assault rifles do not belong in the hands of ordinary Americans.  The proliferation of gun violence in this country is breeding fear and separating us from each other.  People of faith have to demand better.

KEVIN:

As one of your pastors who has comforted you this week while grief-stricken and terrified as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I have felt again the desperate need for people of faith, people like us, to stand up and say enough is enough. Public rhetoric, especially religious rhetoric, that in any way suggests that LGBTQ people are not beloved children of God, welcomed and affirmed in every place we share, must end.  Homophobia in this country is festering fear, hatred, and violence and is separating us from each other.  People of faith have to demand better.

AMY:

And last Sunday, I stood on the steps of Judson Memorial Church with a Muslim-American who said, “In the Muslim community, we are peace-loving Americans too, and I, like many of my brothers and sisters, live in fear of the news report that will name the perpetrator of a terrible crime like this: Muslim.  ‘Muslim Terrorist.’”  Blind labeling and Islamophobia in our country is an epidemic and there is a desperate need for people of faith, people like us, to stand up and say enough is enough.  Anything that turns the “other” into an enemy is breeding fear and separating us from each other.  People of faith have to demand better.

KEVIN:

Riverside Church, you have been entrusted with a platform from which, together, we can and we must call our fellow Americans to embrace “our better angels,” as President Lincoln said.  The community in this special and sacred space has and must continue to call for a closing of the distance that separates us, a reconciliation that finds us standing together to stop the violence and to welcome every person with love.

AMY:

We need you, we need each other, to step up and demand better.  Together.

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