At the beginning of this year the state of Arizona experienced yet one more tragedy. We have had one tragedy after another in the way that our political leaders have treated immigrants, have failed the people of our state in providing leadership in a time of economic recession, and have contributed to a blatant revival of out and out racism. Then we had a shooting. Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords continues to struggle to overcome the impact of the shooting upon her body and her life. Six other people died. Several others were wounded. The world looked upon Arizona and thought, ‘how much worse can it get?’
But on the day of the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Green, one of the shooting victims, when we heard that the gay-bashing Fred Phelps group was coming to town to bring their message of hate, people of every race and every culture, citizens and undocumented immigrants, and people of different sexual orientation and gender identity, made a human line on both sides of the street so long and so strong that it blocked the Phelps group from any and all access to little Christina’s funeral. It was an empowering and life-giving experience. Out of a moment of deep sadness came the recognition that we are bound together in our humanity, and hate is not the way.
Our states and this country will find a way to build strong and healthy communities when we fully accept that in all of our diversity of sexual orientation, economic status, race and culture, and immigration status, we are all persons of sacred worth. Without exception we are all created in the image of God, and are all beloved of God. Standing together we must denounce and deplore all acts of hate and violence in our communities.
As Christians we believe that God calls us to nurture human beings into the fullness of their humanity. We cannot be about this sacred task and allow hate and violence to stand. Hate and violence against persons, whether it is bullying in our schools, the taunting and violating of a person’s privacy to the point of humiliating that person and destroying his or her sense of self worth and belonging, to beatings and even murder on our streets or on the outskirts of our towns, all because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, cannot be left unchallenged or unconquered. Such violence against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers is a violation of all that is good within us, and destroys the inherent human dignity of all of us.
Violence also comes in the form of lack of full employment rights. Every person has the right to a job at a living wage. Employment is basic to the well being of persons and families. Gainful employment also makes possible persons’ contribution of their gifts, skills, and wisdom to our communities of faith and to society in ways that better our communities and our world. In a just society there is no room for employment discrimination. Employment discrimination undermines our human potential and our responsibilities in God’s world.
Finally, I have come to see the deep intersection of the work we must do together for justice for the LGBT and the immigrant communities. Both have for too long been the victims of hate and violence, and both struggle for the right to employment without prejudice. I am convinced, however, that together we can overcome hate and discrimination of every kind and build a nation and a world that will one day value all God’s people; a world of justice full of the love and peace we all long for. May God be our help.
I copied and pasted the above statement from http://desertsouthwestconference.org/churchmembers/bishopscorner/living_the_connection/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=219&cHash=76a827bb3e