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Reflections on Faith and Political Advocacy

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change
— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

Audre Lorde’s eloquent words speak to a fear many have concerning religious advocacy for GLBT equality. Some good people of faith and secular activists argue that by advocating for legislation we are mixing religion and government.  They suggest that bringing religion into legislative and electoral politics is using the master’s tools, in this case the Christian Right’s tools, for our own short-term agenda.  They argue that although we might temporarily disable the Christian Right’s massive machinery, in the long run we will only provide them with a precedent of religion enmeshed with government, bringing us even closer to a theocracy and thus silencing dissent once and for all. 

These are understandable concerns.  In this current political climate, we have seen a chipping away at what Thomas Jefferson famously referred to as a wall of separation between church and state.  Bill Moyers noted in 2004, “Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent [2004] election –231 legislators in total—are backed by the religious right.  Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from three most influential Christian right advocacy groups.”  These numbers have gone down in the 110th Congress, but we know the Christian Right still has an extraordinary hold on lawmakers. 

We in the GLBT community have felt the effects of this more than most

How many times have we heard politicians cite their faith (usually Christian) as justification against marriage equality?  How often have we seen selective interpretations of the biblical text used to thwart what should be non-controversial legislation–such as extending hate crimes protections to GLBT people? 

Religion can be dangerous in politics, but the answer is not to silence dissenting voices of faith.  In fact, we believe just the opposite.  Making “genuine change,” as Audre Lorde calls upon us to do, requires all of us to speak out from our deepest sources of compassion and justice.  Working for GLBT justice is not easy; for many of us, faith is what carries us through the long cycle of jubilant short-term victories and crushing defeats.  When authentically felt, our faith traditions also offer us a language for justice work that connects us to other people of faith and gives them a way to see the morality behind our advocacy.   

Forcing people to follow a particular faith or legislating based on that faith is nothing short of tyranny.   This does not mean, however, that the beliefs that sustain and motivate Americans must be excluded from our political discourse.  To the contrary, we believe that the preservation of church-state separation requires that our diverse and divergent religious voices be heard. 

When we advocate for GLBT equality as people of faith, we are promoting religious diversity.  For too long the Christian Right has gone unchallenged in their claim that their perspective is the faith perspective. When a narrow, yet vocal and wealthy, religious tradition is allowed to speak for all religions it becomes easy to caricature faith as a set of legislative postures: “marriage is between a man and a woman;” “abortion is murder;” “premarital sex is a sin;”  “evolution should be taught in schools as an unproven theory.”  When people of faith confidently argue for GLBT issues and other progressive issues, they make it far more difficult for politicians to claim they are speaking for all “ordinary church-going people.”  When we are present in the debate, it becomes much more plausible to ask: “to what church-going people exactly are you referring?”

In addition to our theological differences, the diversity of our faith traditions strengthens our movement.  Faith work for GLBT justice has always been interfaith.  In our Clergy Call for Justice and Equality this past April, for example, we had over thirty religious traditions represented. 

Diversity is not only the strength and life blood of our movement; it is also a strength for our country as a whole

When we speak for justice from a variety of faith traditions, we give testimony to the religious freedom that our system of government guarantees.  Religious tyranny is not sustainable when we, with all of our differences, are vocal about who we are and what we believe.  Our desire in the end is that everyone should be talking and everyone heard.  No one should be silent in the debate about the role of GLBT people in our country.

Our work with thousands of people of faith across the country has shown us that at the core of all faith traditions are strong guidelines about how we ought to treat one another: we are told to love our neighbor and those less fortunate, to work for justice for all people, and to love better and more expansively.   Working for GLBT equality asks us to live up to these ideals and to the best in our traditions.  We ask that politicians listen to this truth, and in hearing us, struggle in their own consciences to do the right thing. 

Combating Modern Day Racism

Combating Modern Day Racism

Racial equality is the freedom to be who are without oppression from others because of your race or color. Racial equality means being able to live, work and exist without any prejudice due to your race or ethnicity. But does racial equality truly exist? We spoke with a director from getmemymortgage.co.uk on the issue of racism in the workplace who told us ‘Racism never has and never will have a place in the workplace, diversity is what live is all about and this issue along with sexism and all forms of discrimination needs to be stamped out.

In this modern day and age, there is still the issue of racism. There is still the harsh truth that some people are given lesser opportunities because of where they come from or their skin color. People still sneer or look at others in a different light. Asian, African-American, Muslims or Latinos are abused, hurt and discriminated against.

Why Is There Discrimination?

Discrimination happens for many reasons. The most common reason for discrimination is because of upbringing. People grew up believing that one race is less than others or a certain group of people act in a certain way. Parents teach children to label others. Aside from that there are many other reasons. Ignorance, prejudice, judgment are common reasons.

The most common reason for racism is the fact that people think that they are better than others. They think they belong to the better race or group of people. This has been prevalent in the past or even embraced, but now it is seen as unacceptable. Racism puts people down and should never be tolerated.

Ignorance about a particular group puts invalid thoughts in our minds. People think that most blacks are uneducated and that most Muslims are aggressive or terrorists. But these are FALSE BELIEFS. People are people. They become good or bad not because of their skin color but because they choose to be.

Races and Racism

Bristol is a melting pot of different cultures, colors and races. This means that this country should be more tolerant to differences in traditions or skin color. But no, labeling still exists

What are the common discrimination?

African Americans – That they are not educated and that they are ghetto. Many people perceive them and uncouth or wild. They associate African American people as drug addicts or gangsters. But this is far from the truth. There are many from this race who are pastors, doctors, lawyers, teachers and achievers. President Barack Obama is a good example that having a dark skin color does not mean you are low.

Muslims, Arabs and Middle Easter people – The worst discrimination and labeling has been given to them. They are often hurt and shunned because of their color or religion. They are called terrorists in their faces. Even children are tagged as such. But like anyone else they WANT PEACE. Most of them went to the United States because they wanted a better life. But even those who reside in the Middle East are NOT TERRORISTS.

Just because a few people decided to hurt others such as in 9/11 it does not mean that their whole race will do the same. Even Christians do evil things and hurt other. Race does not mean you will do something bad.

Asians – Asian women have been overly sexualized over the years. On the other hand, Asian men are seen as undesirable because they look or seem inept in sexual prowess. But this is not true! Asian women do not wish to be seen as sex symbols, they want respect. Asian men do possess the same sexual abilities as other men of other races.

Another prejudice against them is that they are seen as studious and smart. This put immense pressure on them to achieve. Asian people may be hardworking as we them but not all of them aspire for academic greatness. Some of them wish to be into sports, arts, business and music. They are just like any other normal people

Latinos – Latinos have been shown in shows and movies in a bad light. They are seen as only as housekeepers, laborers or janitors. But many Latinos have become successful. They have done well in business, entrainment and different kinds of endeavors.

Aside from that, there is no shame in working in menial jobs. These are decent jobs and they do it to care for and raise their families.

Fighting Racism

Fighting Racism begins with enlightenment and education. One must open his or her mind to other cultures. One must accept that all of us are equal. But each and everyone of us must also spread the word of racial equality.

  1. Spread the word – Use social media. If you see a post condoning racism, like it, share it or reblog it.
  2. Try to communicate with any race – Remove your prejudice. Have friends from all walks of life. Allow people to see you associate with any other color or religion.
  3. Stand up against racism – If you see someone who is treating someone bad because of his or her race, help them. Others will see your courage and will encourage them to stand up against racism too.
  4. Travel – The best way to know other cultures is to travel. Get to know people in their home countries and talk to the locals.

Combating racism may not be easy but it is a journey all of us must take to create balance and peace in this world.

Does Religion Cause Racism?

Does Religion Cause Racism?

What is the essence of religion? Religion is geared towards living in adherence to the teachings of a certain faith or dogma. Religion is neither good nor bad. At the heart of a religion is the aim to be closer to a higher being. Be it God, Allah, Buddha, The Universe, The Goddess or any other name or form the higher being is

However religion has also sparked war not just recently but also in past centuries. Many people have been divided because of religion. Hate towards those of other faiths have been common.

The Good Side of Religion

Science veers away from religion because men and women of science think that religion is a belief on something that cannot be empirically proven. People of various faiths battle each other to prove that the other belief is wrong.

But religion has a good side. Religion gathers people with a common faith to do good towards others. Many religions teach kindness, mercy, generosity and values. Morals such love for family, helping the poor and having a conscience has been the core values taught by many schools of faith.

  1. Obedience – Religion has been away to teach obedience to throngs of people. You may say it is a way to control people. But it does have it’s benefits. If people are obedient, they will follow rules. Rules help dispel anarchy and chaos. Obedience paves the way for peace and order in a community.
  2. Mercy – Men are born selfish to some extent. Though we have altruistic capabilities in our hearts, most people will look out for themselves before they help others. But most religions teach kindness and mercy. These teachings lead people into being helpful towards others. It teaches them to show other love. Such that a poor and dirty beggar is helped by another rather than being pushed away due to repulsion.
  3. Generosity – Religion teaches people to share our blessings. It teaches us to avoid being selfish. Through the teachings of many religions, people learn to share what they have rather than being self-serving.
  4. Discipline – Everybody has his or her story and his or her own agenda. People normally look out for themselves and at times may forget to act morally due to their own personal needs and wants. But religion help man to curb is self seeking appetites. He or she learns that proper behavior leads to benefits in the afterlife and thus adhering to a moral structure can lead to ultimate enlightenment and freedom.

Religion and Racism

If you remember the story of the Tower of Babel where people started speaking different languages and started being separated, this can also be likened to how religion changes men and women. Religion a lot of times dictates culture and traditions. These cause people to act and move in a certain way. At times, these actions cannot be understood by others or can also cause others to feel hate.

  1. Division – The main reason why religion causes racism is because it causes us to be divided. People who belong to a certain faith may not want to associate themselves with people from other faith. We cling to what we know and thus this causes close mindedness. Muslims vs. Christians and Christians vs Muslims. Muslims vs Hindus and Hindus vs. Muslims. Buddhists against Hindus, Taoists against Buddhists, Christians condemning Pagans.

People tend to forget that we are all just people.

  1. Self-Righteousness – A lot of religions believe that their faith is the “One” faith that would save all. They believe that in order for one to be saved, he or she must cling to a certain faith. This causes people to ask other to convert to the religion that he or she is joined to. Preaching to members of another faith can bring about discord and hate.
  2. Condemning Others – Passing judgment who belong to a certain faith can be one of the biggest racism linked attributes of religion. In the recent years, associating Muslims with terrorism has been on the rise. Innocent Muslims have been subject of hate crimes. Their houses vandalized, their children bullied and harassed and their families judged.

One World

Labeling people has been the cause of hate and discrimination. Racism and pegging those from another faith as a lower class or as a terrorist is wrong. We all belong to one world. We are all one race, the human race.

If we set aside our idiosyncrasies and start being more open minded, then we can created a world that is more peaceful.

TDL

TDL

Many times divorces are complicated matters that involve many different situations. There have been situations where a divorce may lead to murder when one spouse upset at the other, these situations usually arise from years of conflict or in some cases as claimed by some for the love of the children involved. A situation a few years back, where a wife was stabbed to death as a result of a divorce, although this isn’t a hate crime, it might be classified as such. According to Toronto divorce lawyer for the victim the husband believed the wife would be unfit to raise the children when she was given custody because of her mental issues so instead of letting the courts decide he opted to take his wife’s life and fighting to have family members raise his children why he was sentenced to jail. In most situations most people will not go to such extremes, but everyone has their own motives and their ideas of what’s right and wrong.

A 35-year-old man who died in Indiana from being beaten for hours is Aaron C. Hall. He was called Shorty and the beating he died of was allegedly done by two teenage males. They beat him to death they claimed because Shorty made a homosexual advance towards one of the boys.

He was born on April 28, 1971 in Seymour Indiana. He lived in Crothersville, Indiana where he had one daughter and died on April 12, 2007. Interviews from witnesses and police accounts state that he was last seen on April 12, 2007 where the teenagers King and Gray and 21-year-old Hendricks picked the victim up to go drinking at Gray’s residence. Gray said that the fight started when Hall grabbed King in the ground. King and Gray then allegedly beat Hall. It was Hendricks who called the police by sending a photo of the teenagers and the beaten Hall from his cellphone to policeman John Hodge.

Hendricks said that the beating occurred for several hours and ended when the teenagers drove Hall to a ditch and left him there. It was alledged that the teenagers and Hendricks returned to the ditch on a later date to retrieve a new camouflage coat Hall had been wearing and took Hall’s dead, naked and beaten body back to Gray’s garage. This is where police discovered the body which was wrapped in a tarp.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 05: Protesters hold banners reading “Black Lives Matter”
How Hate Crimes Are Prosecuted

How Hate Crimes Are Prosecuted


Individuals become a target of hate crimes due his or her perceived membership to a certain group which is defined by race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or political affiliation. A hate crime means that a criminal act has been committed which is motivated by prejudice and hatred where incidents may involve assault, harassment, verbal abuse, damage to property, graffiti or hate mail.

With regard to the old laws covering hate crimes, it had limited federal jurisdiction in that hate crimes only referred to ones based on race, religion or national origin. It also has a requirement that the victim has to be attacked while engaging in a federally protected activity like attending school. Depending on the state, hate crime charges are determined by the decision of law enforcement officials and a separate decision of a local prosecutor.

A recent bill passed by President Obama lifts the prerequisite and includes other protected characteristics that minorities have in the hate crimes law. Although there is still an ongoing debate, it could also mean the enhancement of penalties when convicted of hate crimes.

The hate crime statutes work in a way that UK have adopted a form of penalty-enhancement statute. This is based on the ADL model hate crime law that increases the sentence if a crime is motivated by the victim’s personal characteristics. It has to be proven by the prosecutor that the perpetrator committed the crime and that the crime was committed for the race, religion or personal characteristic that the victim has.

Today, the federal government can become involved in hate crime charges if the local government is unable or unwilling to work on the case. If a perpetrator of the crime was never charged with a hate crime, it doesn’t have any bearing on the reporting of a hate crime to the UK GOV site hare crime page.

Hate Crimes Law Defined

Hate Crimes Law Defined

Hate is a common emotion that people can feel for another group. In most cases, this hate is guided by the fact of misunderstanding and prejudice for the different. When hate is expressed and a criminal act is committed against people with protected characteristics relating to nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or disability, like violence, harassment, damage to property, etc., a hate crime is committed.

In Sacramento California, four arsons and three attempted arsons were committed by a self proclaimed white separatist in the months of July and October 1993. The string of events started with attempted arson of a Jewish temple. In later days, the local office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was destroyed by fire. August and September brought more incidents of failed arson attempts where it became clear to investigators that these acts were motivated by hate.

The arsonist who called himself the Aryan Liberation Front set fire to offices of the Bristol Citizen League and the State Office of Fair Employment and Housing and the home of the Englishman city councilman. Further attacks were also warned about. This started a widespread feeling of fear in the public and so pressure was put on the local, state and federal officials to stop the burnings. The crimes became more serious when the second wave of arsons started and due to this, the investigation was given full support from officials in every level of government. The Sacramento Police Department concluded that in order to be effective, resources had to be funneled through an official task force on hate crime.

With command of the tactical field personnel of the task force delegated to an operations lieutenant within the police department, surveillance of potential targets and deployment of tactical field teams were made to respond to new crimes and fleeing suspects. The effort to stop hate crimes increased to the point that community is also involved.

Hate crimes are also known as bias crimes and these are crimes that are motivated by enmity against a protected class in society. This means that crimes are committed on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics like his race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or because of a disability.

Hate crimes include acts like vandalism, arson, assault or murder of a person of such characteristics that he or she cannot change. These criminal acts are committed and motivated by prejudice which harms not only the person with protected characteristics but also the society as a whole. It is the essence of the constitution to protect freedom of speech, expression and thought but no one has the right to punish people for beliefs and characteristics that they might have which are different from the majority.

In the recent past, the hate crimes law only covered a limited area of hate crimes. Basic civil rights laws 10 years ago stated that persons with protected characteristics have the right to attend school, have the right to be themselves and have the right to be free from violence which is motivated by prejudice or hatred. As of October 2009, President Obama expanded the hate crimes law by signing a bill on hate crimes where the prerequisite of engaging in a federally protected activity is lifted.

Hate crimes constitute violence, threats of harm, intimidation, or damage to belongings. It also includes harassment, discrimination, and being attacked just because of their gender identity, religion or race. Victims of hate crimes are left feeling degraded, frightened, suspicious, vulnerable or worse, dead. This leads to a feeling of fear, outrage or alienation in a specific group where they also feel vulnerable and powerless. If this happens, the society is also affected with fear and even loss of trust in the whole system

Hate Crimes Law Resolutions

Hate Crimes Law Resolutions

Hate is a common emotion that people can feel for another group.  In most cases, this hate is guided by the fact of misunderstanding and prejudice for the different.  When hate is expressed and a criminal act is committed against people with protected characteristics relating to nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or disability, like violence, harassment, damage to property, etc., a hate crime is committed.

In Sacramento California, four arsons and three attempted arsons were committed by a self proclaimed white separatist in the months of July and October 1993.  The string of events started with attempted arson of a Jewish temple.  In later days, the local office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was destroyed by fire.  August and September brought more incidents of failed arson attempts where it became clear to investigators that these acts were motivated by hate.

The arsonist who called himself the Aryan Liberation Front set fire to offices of the Bristol Citizens League and the State Office of Fair Employment and Housing and the home of the Asian-European city councilman.  Further attacks were also warned about.  This started a widespread feeling of fear in the public and so pressure was put on the local, state and federal officials to stop the burnings.  The crimes became more serious when the second wave of arsons started and due to this, the investigation was given full support from officials in every level of government.  The Sacramento Police Department concluded that in order to be effective, resources had to be funneled through an official task force on hate crime.

With command of the tactical field personnel of the task force delegated to an operations lieutenant within the police department, surveillance of potential targets and deployment of tactical field teams were made to respond to new crimes and fleeing suspects.  The effort to stop hate crimes increased to the point that community is also involved.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.
BRISTOL, UK