A National Call for Moral Renewal
On June 20th, the Poor People's Campaign will hold the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-wealth people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in this nation’s history. A global pandemic is exposing even more the already existing crisis of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace
In the midst of difficult times, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice will host “Peaceful Presence,” a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey. All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all. The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.
ADVOCACY: The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has created a “Have a Heart Toolkit,” including a variety of ways for individuals to lovingly convey to Governor Newsom the urgency of releasing detainees from detention centers that are a dangerous breeding ground for the COVID. Click here to learn more, watch videos from people inside detention centers, and find out how you can join this effort! (Photo explanation: On April 10, immediately before joining the hunger strike, Mesa Verde dorm C created a heart formation on their yard that was captured by supporters on the outside.)
AID: Immigrants in our communities are suffering mightily during this time of COVID. In addition to health risks, immigrants are not eligible for several of the federal support programs, and are, in some cases, in desperate financial need. In other cases, immigrants are considered "essential workers" but not provided necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) or allowed to observe safety practices. Please consider donations to one of the following local organizations, or other programs you know are helping immigrants:
On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice held its first virtual Peaceful Presence gathering. While we missed seeing each other as embodied, real people, the service, hosted by Eric Sabelman of the Palo Alto Friends Meeting, was beautiful! Through images, readings, prayers and music, we found a true Peaceful Presence. The added plus of such an event is that we can (somewhat) share it easily with all of you now.
Click here to download a PDF file with the slides of all of the images we saw and the readings and prayers we heard. At the end you will also find the sources of music Eric played.
Watch for an update with plans for our May 11 Peaceful Presence.
In the meantime, as the final reading reminded us, we can view the empty streets and parks as "the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness in our lifetime." (These are the words of a West Belfast Community Worker named Tommy Holland. Go to slide #30 in the PDF to read the whole quotation.)
"Anne Frank didn't die in a gas chamber. She died because she caught a contagious disease in a concentration camp. We have seen this before. We won't let it happen again. Never again is now." (Never Again Action)
ACTION ALERT FROM NEVER AGAIN: Call or email Governor Newsom's office today and say: “Hi, My name is [name], I'm a [state] resident living in [city]. The detention centers in our state are going to become death camps for the immigrants locked inside, unless Governor _______ uses his/her emergency powers to release them immediately. Will the governor empty the detention centers today?” Click here for Office of Governor Gavin Newsom's webpage with phone number and email form.
Never Again Action, a movement of Jews, allies and immigrant partners, reminds us, "Deadly outbreaks in detention centers; it’s a matter of if, not when. UNLESS our governors use their emergency powers to empty the detention centers in their state, before they become de facto death camps."
"We call on governors across the country to use their emergency executive power to order the release of all immigrant detainees in their states. Protect immigrants from this virus, for their safety and for public health. We hope that our governors will choose the path of morality AND public safety. If they don’t, we will pressure them until they do."
From the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity:
A coalition of over 60 legal service providers and community organizations in California sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the administrators of local ICE detention facilities demanding that they release all individuals held at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility and the Yuba County Jail, starting with those who are at highest risk.
As city and state governments take drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, this letter adds to the chorus of community organizations across the country calling for the release of incarcerated people.
Use your faith voice and share your faith values when you call and email David Jennings, Acting Field Office Director, and demand that ICE release all people from detention, beginning with the most vulnerable.
Some people have experienced difficulty with phone calls, please do not feel discouraged. Send an email, if the phone is not accessible.
CALL David Jennings (Acting Field Office Director, ICE) Keep reading more suggested script.
Click here to read MVPJ's article about NEVER AGAIN ACTION Campaign, similar to this one, pressuring governors to use their emergency executive power to order the release of immigrant detainees in their states.
"The Report (which is available for streaming through Amazon) dramatizes the brutality of the 2002-2007 CIA torture program, as well as the political battle to make the failures of that program public," writes the Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman, a longtime member of MVPJ's steering committee and local pastor.
"Watching The Report is not easy, but it is nonetheless important viewing. Each of us must take seriously our obligation as citizens to take responsibility for the actions of our nation. All of us must push our leaders toward policies and practices which reflect the highest moral and ethical standards of our faith traditions, so that we might become a more perfect union."
Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns.
Click here read Altman's full and powerful Opinion piece in Unbound: an interactive journal on Christian social justice.
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice hosted a viewing of this film followed by discussion
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) has set up a process which will allow us to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other targeted communities in our local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way. Examples of triggers could be receipt of hate mail, defacing of property, threats to the well-being of the community or to a member of the community. Our goal is to gather in response and public solidarity within 24-48 hours of learning about the incident, or as requested by the community that is targeted. These MVPJ solidarity responses will be faithful, peaceful demonstrations of solidarity and friendship. (Please note that these responses do not require the training necessary for the Rapid Response teams, who might possibly be confronting ICE agents or raids.) Supportive, peaceful, faith-based signs may be brought by participants to these public solidarity events.
When an action is needed, our email subject title will be “IMMEDIATE LOCAL RESPONSE NEEDED,” and the body of the email will include instructions as to where and when to gather.
If your community is targeted or threatened in some way, and you want to ask for a public show of solidarity, or simply discuss this possibility, please contact us through this email: email@example.com. You may certainly talk with anyone on the MVPJ steering committee personally if you prefer, however the "firstname.lastname@example.org" email is set up to be checked every day for a quick response.
If your community feels it wise to evacuate its premises due to a threat of any kind (such as a bomb threat or threatening graffiti) and needs an alternate space for worship or study on short notice, we have several congregations who are willing to host you if at all possible. You may inquire about this offer through email@example.com and we will help you connect to these communities as quickly as possible.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Non-Violent Commitment
In all actions that we take, members of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice commit to the principles of non-violence, and pledge that all their actions will be peaceful, respectful, prayerful and non-violent.
On August 11 local Jews and Quakers joined together to lead a powerful Multifaith Service of Lament and Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees. More than 200 people participated.
The Lament was part of a national effort that connected the 9th of Av (August 11th), the Jewish annual day of mourning over displacement, discrimination and murder of Jews through their history, with the experience of today’s immigrants.
The Quaker Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees invited participants to sit in silence to listen to the Spirit which guides human affairs and inspires both immediate words and future action.
On July 12, 2019 MVPJ hosted a vigil on behalf of immigrants, children and refugees as part of the Lights for Liberty campaign. Click below to see more photographs of the event. Many thanks to Jack Owicki from Pro-Bono Photography who took these wonderful pictures!