Events for February 2023

Advocacy briefing: Act to stop intimidation and violence

Advocacy briefing: Act to stop intimidation and violence 750 422 Episcopalians in Connection

Please act to stop intimidation and violence!

After helping Debby Stokes to lead a workshop in Lebanon over the weekend, I am writing with great concern for school boards, public health professionals, and all the other teams across our country who have been trying to faithfully carry out their responsibilities under increasing danger of violence. While praying, please find out if public servants and health care providers in your community are experiencing intimidation, and strategize with your congregation on public actions you can take to restore safety and constructive policy discussions.

Please email me about what’s happening and what you’re doing, so these experiences can be shared through the diocese’s Becoming Beloved Community to inform the shared prayer and reconciliation work. For me, the Prayers for National Life and the Social Order in the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 820-27) are like waking up from a nightmare. Do you think these would have impact in a public outdoor service?

Louise Lawarre pictured second from right in this image from Indian Country Today.

Many years ago, when anti-Semitic threats flared in Anderson Township, my Catholic friend Louise Lawarre organized a campaign inspiring many residents to put menorahs in their front windows. She used public banners as she helped lead the successful campaign last year to replace the school district’s mascot. A July 2020 article in Indian Country Today reported, “Members of a Keeper (the group defending the mascot) Facebook group published personal contact information for board member Leslie Rasmussen, who voted for change. She later reported receiving a threatening, obscene voicemail on her office phone. An email provided by the district to the Cincinnati Enquirer contained a veiled threat, “Remove the mascot and it’s Game On.”

Heather Cox Richardson’s Aug. 30 article reported,  “Today in Pennsylvania, Steve Lynch, a candidate for Northampton County executive, said: ‘Forget going into these school boards with freaking data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I’m going in with 20 strong men and I’m gonna give them an option—they can leave or they can be removed.’

“At a protest in Santa Monica yesterday before a vote on a mask mandate, a man held a sign with the names and home addresses of each Los Angeles City Council member and said protesters would go to the homes of anyone who voted for the mandate and, if it passed, ‘Civil War is coming! Get your guns!’”

Debby and I heard how the same rage is growing in Lebanon over multiple issues ranging from race to masks.  This morning, I heard that Lebanon City Schools have shut down for the week due to the spread of COVID. More than 900 students were in quarantine as of Monday, Aug. 30. The school board is now requiring masks for the next three weeks.

If you don’t already receive Heather Cox Richardson’s short, illuminating (and footnoted) posts, consider subscribing. (here’s the link)  She is a professor of history at Boston College (a Catholic university), where she teaches on the American Civil War, Reconstruction, the American West, and the Plains Indians. Her deep knowledge of American history informs her analysis of current events, especially in the light of the yearning many Americans of faith share to overcome racism.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.