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CONDEMNING TRUMP'S DISRESPECT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
and 
RETWEETING ANTI-MUSLIM PROPAGANDA 

A Statement from


Dr. Robert P. Sellers
Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of the World's Religions 
and 

Dr. Larry Greenfield
Executive Director of the Parliament of the World's Religions


In these times of extraordinary tension and danger, leaders—whether political, socio-cultural, or religious and whatever their nation, tradition, or spiritual path--have a special obligation to be unquestionably truthful, intentionally civil and respectful, and particularly careful to avoid being inflammatory and polarizing in any way. Instead, they need to be relentless in seeking a common good for their nation and its diverse peoples.

The Parliament of the World's Religions is committed to holding leaders to such standards, because the religions and spiritual communities of our world expect this of their own leaders and those in power in other spheres of human society. It is out of this commitment that we condemn the irresponsible retransmission of false and racist videos against the great religious tradition of Islam by the President of the United States, as well as his entirely inappropriate words to demean a political opponent at an event meant to honor Native Americans who served the United States with the deepest of commitments.

We invite other religious and civic leaders to join together in condemnation of the dangerous and disrespectful behavior by the President, who should apologize and exercise the discipline required of his office, his nation, and his position on the world's stage.

Now is exactly the time for religious and spiritual leaders, especially in the United States, to use the power entrusted to us and to empower our colleagues in religious service to take persistent actions that reveal to the wider public our deep solidarity for truth-speaking and peace-seeking, justice-advancing, and compassion-sharing.
 
A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE UNDER HEAVEN:


ENDING GUN VIOLENCE AND MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES



After the 1,300th mass shooting since Sandy Hook, after the dead were covered in tarps and the wounded whisked away in wheel barrows and the backs of pickup trucks, after strangers waited with the dying so they wouldn’t be alone and the very, very brave shielded those they’d never met before from rapid fire shots they thought at first were fire crackers --- after 59 people died and 527 were injured, we heard a White House spokesperson say ~ now is not the time to discuss gun laws; there will be time for “policy discussions,” but “that’s not the place we’re at.”

WHERE ARE WE AT?  Columbine, Herkimer, Tucson, Santa Monica, Hialeah, Terrell, Alturas, Isla Vista, Marysville, Chapel Hill, Tyrone, Waco, Charleston, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Fort Hood, Aurora, Virginia Tech, , the DC Navy Yard, a Congressional baseball practice, San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Orlando and now Las Vegas are a few places we’ve been.  

Depending on how we define “mass shooting,” since Orlando and the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub, at least 585 people have been killed in mass shootings; 2, 156 have been injured.  All of us have been traumatized.  .  .  .  “I’ve lost hope,” said a man on the street.  “I gave up after Sandy Hook.  If they {lawmakers} didn’t care about the deaths of first graders, if seeing children massacred didn’t change anything, what will?”

IS THAT WHERE WE'RE AT?  A place, a time without any hope that things can be different?  That we, as a people, can change the rules we live by?  The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of our movement of faith, is famous for saying:  “You can live 3 weeks without food, and about 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without air --- but you can’t live 1 second without hope.”



Where is our hope for the future being different and less violent?  Our hope for no more mass shootings or gun-related violence?  Almost every commentator on Las Vegas says the same thing:  After the extending of condolences and prayers for the dead, after the somber funeral processions and lowering of flags to half staff, after all the moments of silence and the make-shift sidewalk memorials, nothing will change.  Life will go on as always, and there will be another mass shooting and gun violence will continue and 92 people will die every single day who would not have if it wasn’t so easy to get a gun, so easy to buy a weapon of mass destruction capability, so easy to buy so many rounds of ammunition, so easy .  .  . to take a life.

Despite legislative disclaimers, NOW IS THE TIME to talk about preventing more needless and gun-related violence and bloodshed in the United States.  The only nation in the world that even comes close to the level of gun ownership by private citizens in the U.S. is Yemen, and people there are in the middle of a war. ~ Maybe we are, too.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they don’t think anyone needs an assault rifle or high capacity ammunition clips, yet a majority also support an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that would make both things a right.  Does having a right to do something mean we should do it?  The first humans purportedly had freedom of choice in the Garden.  They made the wrong choice and suffered for it.

Is there a difference between having a right and doing the right thing?  People of faith and good will need to ask themselves these questions.  Almost every study on gun ownership says the more prevalent ownership, the more likely violence and bloodshed.  It’s that simple.    Stephen Paddock didn’t need the 29 guns in his hotel room or the 18 others found in his home.  No one does.  Not even soldiers in combat carry the amount of fire power he brought to a 32nd floor hotel room in the entertainment capital of the world.

There’s no way to justify civilians having access to weapons of mass destruction.  No way.  The studies have been done and they all conclude one thing:  the more guns available, the more deaths that will occur.  And no one needs a study to feel the grief and pain and despair violence like that in Las Vegas levies on all of us.

Many reading this will no doubt shrug it off ~ these sorts of things just happen now and then.  Only 1% of the gun deaths in the United States each year are the result of mass shootings. ---  Perhaps others will say, it’s a uniquely U.S. problem.  Is it?  We live in an interconnected global reality that lines on a map cannot and do not change.  Terrorism is terrorism.  Violence is violence.  Not stopping it anywhere promotes it everywhere.  Maybe it’s time for the world to call the United States to accountability.  Maybe it’s time for those of us in the United States to do that for ourselves.


Image Credit: The Daily Beast

Caleb Keeter, one of those performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival did that when he tweeted to his fans, “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd Amendment my entire life….I cannot express how wrong I was….A small groud {or 1 man} laid waste to a city…because of access to an insane amount of fire power…this is completely out of hand.”

YES IT IS. BUT NOT HOPELESS!

We can do something if we stand together and stop allowing corporate enterprises that benefit from trading in fear scare us into not acting.  The government is no where near rescinding the 2nd Amendment.  Renounce that fear; it’s pointless.  Banning assault weapons and high capacity rounds of ammunition will not interfere with anyone’s right to own a gun.  Banning guns in public places like schools and churches and movie theaters and at concerts will not make us more vulnerable.  People who had guns at the Las Vegas concert testify that they could not use them for fear of being targeted by law enforcement as the shooter, further endangering themselves and those around them. Opposing the SHARE Act, a measure that would allow concealed carry reciprocity across state lines, is a no brainer.  It’s really this simple: common sense gun regulations will save lives.  

Now is the time to act to limit access to weapons and ammunition that has no place in our communities and serves no purpose other than mass destruction and terror.  We can do this.  Mass shootings are not inevitable.  They are preventable.

This statement prepared by Members of the Government and Policy Team of the Global Justice Institute.
 The Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner,
Executive Director.

For more information on how to become active in the fight to end gun violence or

about the Global Justice Institute, contact The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt at

drjimmerritt@gmail.com.

 
September,   2017
Request for Financial Assistance – LGBTQ Justice Work in Mtito Andei, Kenya

Next major project – a well!


Mtito Andei, Kenya is a medium size city in Kenya strategically located half way between the two major cities of Nairobi, the capital, and Mombosa on the Indian Ocean Coast.  The town is economically depressed, and since it is a major overnight truck stop on the Mombosa – Nairobi route, many women (and some men) resort to prostitution as the only option to support their families.  The HIV rate among children in Mtito Andei is very high, and local churches often ostracize sex workers and LGBTQ people.

About two years ago, Metropolitan Community Church pastor Rev. Michael Kimindu relocated his ministry to Mtito Andei since he is originally from that area, and it was underserved in the area of religious and justice ministry.  With the assistance of a small number of donors, 2 acres of land were purchased, and a gazebo type structure and a small home for Rev. Kimindu and his family were built.

Currently, Rev Kimindu is building strong alliances within the community with elementary school leaders, a new local university and several community leaders also concerned with the community’s issues.  His vision includes some small scale agriculture and vocational training to provide alternatives for local residents, promoting safer sex among sex workers, addressing child abuse issues in local schools, and providing a spiritual home for those who are shunned by their churches.  To leverage the property and his resources, Rev. Kimindu has formed a collaborative ministry with Metropolitan Community Churches, Global Justice Institute, Other Sheep and the Kimer-Kamba Cultural Centre.

Early this year, we constructed a small totally enclosed classroom building which will facilitate community meetings and training, and to provide a small office space for Rev. Kimindu along with a small kitchen.  In addition, we raised funds for supplies, furniture and equipment for this building.

The next step which will help this ministry to become self-sustaining is to dig and equip a well on the property.  The Mtito Andei area is very dry with recent draughts, and often the water supply from the town is barely a trickle.  A well would not only assist Rev. Kimindu, but also all his surrounding neighbors and help him build bridges to them.  And it would allow for much larger scale gardening which can provide income to the struggling women of Mtito Andei.



A fully equipped well will cost around $25,000, and we already have $10,000 saved up toward that amount.  We are looking for all size donations, and for a $10,000 gift we would grant naming rights to the well – to name in honor of yourself, loved one or friend.


Below are photos taken from the property in late 2015 when visited by Rev Elder Pat Bumgardner and long time MCC lay leader and current Kenyan church member Stan Kimer
C:\Users\Stan\Desktop\My Documents\My Pictures\Africa 2015\Kenya\Kenya RevPat 05.jpg C:\Users\Stan\Desktop\My Documents\My Pictures\Africa 2015\Kenya\Jan update 01.jpg
Below is a photo of Rev Kimindu in his new office and family and friends celebrating the opening of the class room building
http://www.totalengagementconsulting.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Mtito-May-10-300x180.jpg http://www.totalengagementconsulting.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Mtito-Andei-Kenya-11.png
And a few photos of early gardening efforts on the next page.  And you can see water barely trickling out of the faucet.
The wonderful first fruits of first gardening project on the land. May Kenya water trickle


Thank you for your consideration of funding this crucial work in this area of Kenya, East Africa.

All donations are fully tax deductible as allowed by US Law.  Checks can be written to the Global Justice Institute, which is a US registered 501-c(3), 446 West 36th Street, New York, New York 10018 {note Kenya Well in the memo}, or a contribution can be made on line by clicking the donate button.  



All donations can be designated as “Kenya Well.”  

May God bless you for your generous support.

Global Justice Institute,
446 West 36th Street,
New York, New York 10018



August 13, 2017

The Global Justice Institute Demands Equality and Justice for ALL People


photo by Wired.com
“Make no mistake, what we saw on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia was terrorism,” wrote The Global Justice Institute’s Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt on Saturday, August 12, 2017, as gangs of Nazi’s, racists, white supremacists and other hate groups descended on the city of Charlottesville.  “In addition to our shared outrage at such blatant racist symbolism, let us also realize that such despicable actions are emboldened by dog whistle language that demonizes ‘the Other’, that attacks, vilifies, or seeks to exclude people for how they look, how they identify, how they pray, or who they love. Regardless of who uses this kind of divisive and demeaning language, even if such speakers of spite otherwise share our religious or political affiliations, we must name such language for the vile, vitriolic, verbal venom that it is,” said Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, Senior Pastor of Sunshine Cathedral (MCC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Global Justice Institute stands with all people for equal treatment, safety and full equality around the world.  We echo the words of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe who said, “Go home.  You are not wanted…shame on you. You pretended you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.  We are stronger than you.  You have made (us) stronger.  There is no place for you here and there is no place for you in America.”


“Although many place their deadly actions under the umbrella of God and Christian faith, we say emphatically this is not the work of God, these are not Christian values, and these are not the behaviors of people of faith,” said Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of The Global Justice Institute and Senior Pastor of The Metropolitan Community Church of New York.


We must stand firm in the face of evil.  Defeating evil will take prayer, faith, and action.  Accordingly, we call for these immediate actions in response to this weekend’s terrorist acts;

  1. Pray for the victims, especially for the family of Heather Heyer who was murdered in the streets of Charlottesville.

  2. Demand an appropriate response from the President of the United States specifically denouncing Nazis and white supremacists and their actions.

  3. As people of faith, demand that meaningful conversations and actions take place in our churches, in our local communities and at the National level.

  4. Stand in solidarity with minority communities who will, no doubt, be targeted further as we continue toward full equality and justice for all people.


The time for action is now.  Let us all join together in prayerful activism today, tomorrow, and until God’s beloved community is established among us.  They are necessary.  The forces of hatred and division we saw in Charlottesville are planning similar gatherings around the U.S. in the coming weeks and months.  


This statement is prepared by The Global Justice Institute.

Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director and Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Family Concerns and Mr. Kareem Murphy

Contact Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt at revjim@revjim.org.



GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE - CLICK HERE to go to The Global Justice Institute web site.

The Global Justice Institute is an independent 501(c)3 that serves as the social justice arm of the Metropolitan Community Churches and is housed within the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. MCCNY senior pastor Rev. Pat Bumgardner serves as the Executive Director and Board of Directors Chairperson. The Board of Directors includes MCC moderator Rev. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Hector Gutierrez representing MCC’s work in Central and Latin America, Grace Poore of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Asian Desk, Scott Long formerly of Human Rights Watch and currently a Fellow at Yale Law School, Pastor Joseph Tolton of Rehoboth Temple Christ Conscious Church {part of The Fellowship under Bishop Yvette Flunder}, Sharon Groves of Human Rights Campaign.



Top Banner Pic: Members of the local committee standing with Rev Elder Pat Bumgardner and Rev Michael Kimindu (center) in front of the first Kimer-Kamba Cultural Centre building. This pic: About 75 people filled the center for the 8 November opening service and dedication ceremony



To donate to the Global Justice Institute please follow this link and choose “Global Justice Institute”:Click Here to Give Online.

Reverend Pat on State of Belief Radio (March 16, 2013):

The GJI now serves as the umbrella organization for MCC’s Global Justice work and has recently partnered with The Fellowship. Current projects of The Global Justice Institute include: Mother of Peace Orphanage in Zimbabwe for children orphaned because of AIDS; work in Eastern Europe largely focused on dismantling discriminatory laws; the building of a community of faith in Jamaica that partners with active ground organizations fighting discrimination, the recent partnering with United Seminary in Jamaica in an effort to provide training for up and coming clergy; the Lesbian Education Project in Pakistan, which we hope to expand this year to include trans folks; the building of faith community in Kuala Lumpur that we hope will become the basis for a community center; series of speaking engagements throughout China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; work on HIV/AIDS in many locations throughout the world; work throughout Africa including a Hospitality Center in Kampala, Uganda. This year Pastor Joseph Tolton and Rev. Pat Bumgardner will visit Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa.



The goal of the GJI in New York is to serve as the hub of a wheel of global justice centers around the globe, allowing for a quick and efficient response to events coordinated by people on the ground.

The GJI has an NGO established in South Africa and Romania, which will function in this way. The GJI in New York will serve not only as a coordinating center for global justice efforts, but also as a place where spiritual activists from around the work can retreat, or offer/participate in trainings, offer meeting space for justice meetings, etc.




To donate to the Global Justice Institute please follow this link and choose “Global Justice Institute”:Click Here to Give Online.



Tell Your U.S. Rep and Senators to SAVE Vital Services

Members of Congress will soon face big choices: will they make damaging cuts to nutrition, education, health care, housing, and more? Or will they prevent service cuts by asking the wealthiest 2 percent to pay more of their fair share in taxes? Will they favor defense contractors over human needs? Those concerned about promoting the common good, protecting the vulnerable, and rebuilding the economy have to speak out! Please send this email. We encourage you to change the text to reflect your concerns; or send it as is. But please be heard – and please forward this widely.

Click here to send an email to your Representative and Senators.

This is the text of the email people are asked to send (or they can edit the wording to personalize it):

Subject: Please prevent cuts to human needs programs; End upper income tax cuts

As your constituent, I urge you to follow these principles as you make budget and tax decisions: 1) protect low-income and vulnerable people; 2) promote job creation so all of us can share in restored economic growth; 3) increase revenues from fair sources; and 4) seek responsible savings by targeting waste in the Pentagon and elsewhere.

You can save vital services for low-income and vulnerable people by allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent to expire. More than $1 trillion will be saved over the next decade if these tax cuts end. Asking those at the top to pay their fair share in taxes will allow needed investments in jobs, education, nutrition, health care, and housing. These and other services will help us now, and build for the future.

In the coming months, please vote to allow the tax cuts for the top 2 percent to expire in January 2013, and preserve tax credits for low-income working families. Please vote to avert cuts now scheduled for January in programs that prevent poverty and meet human needs.

We can make the investments needed for the common good if you take these responsible steps. Thanks for your attention.