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The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world—higher than China, higher than South Africa under apartheid, higher than any of the most oppressive and authoritarian regimes you can think of.

As we consider this fact, it is important to note that 63% of those in jail have not been convicted of a crime. On any given day, there are half a million people in the U.S. who rot in jail because they cannot afford bail for even the lowest-level offenses. The main victims are poor and working class individuals who sit in jail for months, often losing their jobs, custody of their children, or the ability pay their rent or feed their families (even if they are innocent!).

Not only are money bail systems ineffective in ensuring that people will show up to court dates, but they create a drain on public funds. The only ones who gain are the insurance companies that profit off the bail bond system!

Watch this engaging 3-minute video on the facts about bail.

Do you know how many people sit in your local jail because they cannot afford bail? Wondering what you can do about it?

Help organize your local community in order to ensure that there are fair and effective bail practices--the results can be striking! In just over two months, the community of Hudson County, NJ decreased the local jail population by 20% by reforming their bail practices.

Email LIVE FREE today to learn more about how to make a difference.

Posted In: Live Free, Racial Justice



**UPDATE** Great news! We now have 60 faith communities officially signed on to the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, from 17 religious traditions (including Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian) and 18 municipalities.


TAKE ACTION

Join us as we launch the DMV Santuary Network with more than 60 sanctuary congregations in the DC/MD/VA region working to provide support and solidarity to neighbors, friends and family who fear being detained, deported or profiled.

We'll start with a vigil at 11:45 at Foundry United Methodist Church on 16th and P street NW, and will end with a march to the White House for a collective prayer.

Will you join us to ensure that no one in our communities stands alone? RSVP on the Facebook event page and invite your friends!

WHEN: Tuesday, March 21 at 11:45 AM to 1 PM

WHERE: Foundry United Methodist Church - 1500 16th St NW, Washington DC, 20036 


NEXT STEPS

GET YOUR CONGREGATION INVOLVED: If you are a congregation interested in joining the network, please sign up here and and indicate how your congregation can participate.

SHOW UP WITH US AT ICE: April 4, 8:30 AM at the Baltimore ICE Office, 31 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, MD

DMV SANCTUARY CONGREGATION NETWORK MEETING: Wednesday, April 26, 6-9pm, All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St, Washington, DC

FIND US ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow us on Facebook @DMVSanctuaryCongregations

WEBSITE: Go to www.sanctuarydmv.org/congregations/ for more information about how to get involved


PARTICIPATING CONGREGATIONS

Name of Congregation

Denomination

City

State

All Souls Church, Unitarian

Unitarian

Washington

DC

Assisi Community

Catholic

Washington

DC

Calvary Baptist Church

Baptist

Washington

DC

Calvary Episcopal Church

Episcopal

Washington

DC

Capital City Church

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

Cleveland Park Congregational UCC

UCC

Washington

DC

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community

Catholic

Washington

DC

Dumbarton United Methodist Church

UMC

Washington

DC

Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Episcopal

Washington

DC

First Congregation UCC

UCC

Washington

DC

Foundry United Methodist Church

UMC

Washington

DC

Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Catholic

Washington

DC

Inspire DC

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

Memorial United Methodist

UMC

Washington

DC

Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal

AME

Washington

DC

Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist

UMC

Washington

DC

National City Christian Church

Disciples of Christ

Washington

DC

National Cathedral

 

Washington

DC

New Community Church

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian

Washington

DC

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Catholic

Washington

DC

Seekers Church

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

St. Alban's Episcopal Parish

Episcopal

Washington

DC

St. Stephen and the Incarnation

Episcopal

Washington

DC

Temple Sinai

Jewish

Washington

DC

The District Church

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

The Sanctuaries

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

The Table Church

Non-denominational

Washington

DC

Washington Ethical Society

Unitarian

Washington

DC

Western Presbyterian

Presbyterian

Washington

DC

Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Unitarian

Adelphi

MD

Inge Benevolent Ministries dba Muslimat Al Nisaa Shelter

Muslim

Baltimore

MD

Bethesda Friends Meeting

Friends

Bethesda

MD

Bethesda Presbyterian

Presbyterian

Bethesda

MD

Cedar Lane UU Church

Unitarian

Bethesda

MD

River Road Unitarian-Universalist Congregation

Unitarian

Bethesda

MD

Westmoreland UCC

UCC

Bethesda

MD

Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW)

Non-denominational

Cabin John

MD

Shirat HaNefesh (Song of the Soul)

Jewish

Chevy Chase

MD

College Park Church of the Nazarene

Nazarine

College Park

MD

College Park United Methodist

UMC

College Park

MD

University United Methodist

UMC

College Park

MD

Church of the Ascension

Episcopal

Gaithersburg

MD

Mowatt Memorial

UMC

Greenbelt

MD

Hyattsville Mennonite Church

Mennonite

Hyattsville

MD

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church/Iglesia San Mateo

Episcopal

Hyattsville

MD

Episcopal Church of Our Savior

Episcopal

Silver Spring

MD

St. Camillus Catholic Church

Catholic

Silver Spring

MD

Vedanta Center of Greater Washington, DC

Hindu

Silver Spring

MD

Covenant Shepherd Church

Non-denominational

Waldorf

MD

Beverley Hills Community UMC

UMC

Alexandria

VA

Great River Tendai Sangha

Buddhist

Arlington

VA

Kol Ami:  Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Jewish

Arlington

VA

Rock Spring UCC

UCC

Arlington

VA

Wellspring UCC

UCC

Centerville

VA

Temple Rodef Shalom

Jewish

Falls Church

VA

Herndon Friends Meeting

Friends

Herndon

VA

Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston

Unitarian

Reston

VA

United Christian Parish - Reston

UCC

Reston

VA

All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)

Muslim

Sterling

VA

 

The DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network is a partnership between Sanctuary DMV and PICO National Network

 

 


Posted In: Immigration, Racial Justice

By Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews

Catalina Morales, an immigration organizer with PICO National Network federation ISAIAH, can sum up the importance of congregations providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in just 30 seconds.

“When people know that someone is undocumented, their humanity is taken away, so there are a million things that can happen to someone who is undocumented because they’re not seen a human being anymore,” she said during a recent Immigration 101 teach-in held by ISAIAH. “So, part of declaring sanctuary—and why it’s so crucial for this to happen in a congregation— is you’re saying ‘no, this person is a child of God, and they’re not alone.’”

On Jan. 17, faith communities across the country will unite around the principle that no one should stand alone. They’re joining forces for a Sanctuary Day of Action in support of those living in the United States without documentation, and sending a powerful message to President-elect Trump: we will stand together against harsh immigration proposals that threaten to tear apart families.

The Sanctuary Day of Action is an effort of PICO National Network, The Sanctuary Movement, Church World Service, Groundswell Movement, the United Church of Christ, and Justice and Witness Ministries. These groups, which are already working to bolster faith-based sanctuary efforts and keep families together— are using the occasion of Trump’s inauguration to bring attention to their efforts.

Hundreds of new congregations will join the Sanctuary Movement to declare their congregations as safe havens if the Trump administration makes good on its promises to engage in the mass detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. While undocumented immigrants are the primary targets, we know that African-Americans, Muslims, and others may need sanctuary as well. These congregations, which cross many different faith traditions, are taking a prophetic stand and affirming their dedication to protecting communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and deportation protection policies, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

PICO’s member organizations and congregations have been involved in this movement—congregational sanctuary is part of PICO’s Protecting Our Families platform and the work of LA RED, PICO’s campaign to protect the rights and help preserve the dignity of immigrant families.

PICO federation Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada (ACTIONN) was recently part of a community effort to provide sanctuary to Reno, Nevada resident Jose Gastelum-Cardenas. Because of the effort, Gastelum-Cardenas, who received physical sanctuary from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada for four days, received a yearlong suspension of his deportation status. “We have grown in faith a lot,” Gastelum-Cardenas’ wife, Arlene Torres, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Thanks to the work of the Merced Organizing Project (MOP) and Faith in the Valley, seventeen congregations in the greater Merced area are in the process of becoming designated sanctuary spaces for undocumented immigrants, and members of other groups who may fear for the actions of the incoming administration.

“It’s all about creating an inclusive community,” MOP community organizer Crisantema Gallardo recently told New America Media. “With those sanctuaries, we want to let them know that in that congregation, they are welcome and seen, and that they are going to be treated with respect.”

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is PICO National Network's Director of Clergy Organizing. 

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For updates on PICO’s sanctuary work and the Sanctuary Day of Action, follow @PICOnetwork on Twitter. To follow the day's events online on Jan. 17, use the hashtag #SanctuaryRising.

Posted In: Immigration, Racial Justice


PICO leaders, during a Dec. 1 action and press conference, call on President Obama to use his clemency power to protect families. (LaGloria Wheatfall/PICO National Network)

PICO is responding to President-elect Trump’s promises to push immoral policies that would deport immigrants and criminalize Black and Brown communities with a resounding “not on our watch!” On Dec. 1, PICO leaders from federations and congregations across the country participated in the launch of a new campaign calling on President Obama to pardon undocumented immigrants and grant clemency to individuals with low-level, nonviolent federal drug offenses before he leaves office next month. 

(Join the push by signing the petition asking President Obama to take immediate action)

"We are asking the president to do this because we know he can," said Denise Collazo, PICO's chief of staff. "We're asking President Obama to unite and keep families together." 

Rich Morales, PICO’s immigration policy director, said promises made by President-elect Trump mean “our neighbors are at risk, at a level never seen before. As a network of people of faith, we are requesting immediate action from all levels of government to protect the most vulnerable before the new administration takes power."

“It is always the right time to do the right thing,” said Rev. Greg Holston, executive director of POWER. "It is his moral call right now, he has the absolute power, no one doubts that he has the power to make this moral judgment for 11 million [undocumented immigrants] and tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders. He has the opportunity, and we’re praying for him that he does not miss this opportunity."

Speaking about the urgent need to pardon immigrants living in the United States without documentation, Miguel Oaxaca of Together Colorado said he wants President Obama to use not only his power but his heart to help families such as his own. "Today I'm not asking President Obama as a president, I’m asking him as a father, to keep families together," he said.

PICO leader Reyna Montoya, who is a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, said that she doesn't have the luxury of thinking even of herself in this moment--her entire family is at risk. "As a woman of faith, I’m going do anything I can to make sure my parents stay together with my brother and my sister. It is my moral responsibility to do the same thing for my neighbors....we’re going to protect them no matter what.”

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Sign the petition asking President Obama to protect our families by pardoning low-level drug offenses and civil immigration infractions and help us spread the word by watching and sharing this morning's full Presidential Pardons press conference on PICO's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PICOnetwork/videos/10155253163251754/

Posted In: Racial Justice, Immigration

Hope. And standing on the right side of history from PICO National Network on Vimeo.

“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” ~ Jeremiah 6:14

It’s been a tumultuous week. A candidate who spent the entire election cycle stoking racial animus and hate was elected President of the United States. Since his election, reports of hate crimes have ricocheted across the country. People of color, religious minorities, immigrants, persons living in poverty and those who believe America should be inclusive and welcoming for all are terrified.

To make matters worse, yet another white police officer, Ray Tensing, who fatally shot an unarmed African-American father, Sam DuBose, walks free.Tensing killed DuBose on July 19, 2015, after pulling him over for not having a front license plate. A jury of his peers failed to find him guilty of murder or involuntary manslaughter. We can never bring DuBose back, but there must be righteous resistance for the loss of life.
Faith leaders with the AMOS Project, a PICO National Network federation, are first calling for justice in DuBose’s killing, and then peace. They urged Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to retry the case.

“For 400 years, we’ve urged African Americans to be calm, promising justice in the hereafter,” said Elizabeth Hopkins, a faith leader with the AMOS Project. “However, we need to stand with the oppressed, and in America, oppressed people include African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Muslims, undocumented men and women, persons living in poverty and persons identifying as LGBTQ. God has great sympathy for the oppressed and the fatherless. Why don’t we?”

For more information on righteous resistance to police violence, please watch this video. And after you've viewed it, please share it on your social media networks.

Posted In: Racial Justice

By Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the Weekend of Resistance in Ferguson, Mo. Thousands of people traveled to St. Louis to take part in “Ferguson October” for a multi-day protest.

As I think back, I remember the overwhelming heartache of our nation’s black youth as they responded to the tragic killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by a white police officer. I recall their anguish as they protested against racial violence and a flawed criminal justice system that demonizes black and brown lives. I am reminded of their grievances, which came to light during that time.

They were saddened. They were scared. They were angry. They said the political system was worthless. They said clergy and civil rights leaders from generations past failed to show up when it mattered. They said nobody heard their cries in the struggle against the pain of indifference, exclusion, and hopelessness.

Confronted with that trauma and anxiety, I, like so many of my clergy colleagues, realized that our communities across the country were entrenched in a life or death struggle with economic, social, and racial injustices that were and still are decimating our people. In the midst of this pain and trauma we, as faith leaders, hear a sacred call. Our faith demands that we heal the wounds and brokenness caused by policies that disregard black and brown lives and diminish our voices.

With less than two weeks before Election Day, faith leaders have another historic opportunity to answer that sacred call. In a democratic nation like this one, the ballot is one of the most powerful ways that people of faith can publicly disrupt the stagnant waters of apathy and compel the attention and policies that our communities so desperately need.

Read the rest of the piece on the Sojourners blog: https://sojo.net/articles/taking-god-s-righteous-justice-and-resistance-voting-booth

Posted In: Together We Vote, Racial Justice

Love VOTES - Day 6

Against the various forms of fear that drove the religious establishment and political arrangements of his day, Jesus never gave in to fear. As the embodiment of humanity, Jesus never acted out of the instinct to survive. When confronted with enemies, he turned the other cheek. When exploited, he offered all that he had. When betrayed by his closest disciples even unto death, he forgave and made them business partners. Jesus was the model of humane love.

The proven path for an oppressive regime to legitimate its power is to overwhelm history with ideology. The myth of American exceptionalism rooted in the delusion of our nation's immaculate conception is one such example. Christian denominational division is another. The way to cast this demonic ideology out is by following the flesh and blood Jesus of the Bible, not the mascot Jesus of imperial religion.

The vast majority of the voting public in the US claim to be Christian, yet enable endless militarism, economic injustice and political corruption. Politicians anesthetize the public with religious rhetoric about God and country, mom and apple pie. Civil religion has been reduced to patriotic songs and prayers at sporting events, and the incessant demand that God bless America, dammit! We understand America's special calling to be living into our myth of national redemption, with European immigrants forging a new ethnos called 'white people,' who together would lead the world into the heights of 'civilization.'

Some are still pushing this toxic idea like dope. But it ain't real. When we truly love God and all our diverse neighbors, we represent God's love in this world, and we drive out fear and hate. Voting is one way that we put love into action.

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Jin S. Kim is the founding pastor of Church of All Nations (www.cando.org) and founder of Underground Seminary (http://www.undergroundsem.org/) in Columbia Heights, MN. He grew up in the Deep South after emigrating from Korea with his family at age 7. Jin is a clergy leader with ISAIAH, an affiliate of PICO National Network. Follow him on Twitter at @JinPCUSA.

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Find out more about PICO's Together We Vote voting campaign: www.piconetwork.org/campaigns/together-we-vote

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Originally posted on www.westandwithlove.org


Posted In: Together We Vote, Racial Justice

Love VOTES - Day 4

In 1974, I registered to vote the day I turned 18. In November, in the wake of Watergate and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, my suburban Virginia congressional district voted out a 22-year incumbent. I felt powerful.

Thirty years later, my older son registered to vote in his small, Ohio college town. The Ohio Electoral Commission provided only one working voting machine for this progressive town. It was 2:00am on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 before the last student voted. My son knew his vote mattered.

Privileged by race and education, my son and I knew as young adults that we mattered and that our votes mattered. The poor and immigrant young men and women in my parish in Lynn, Massachusetts find it hard to believe that their lives or their votes matter.

At St. Stephen's and in Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), we care about the Essex County Sheriff election because we love Sean, Prince, Jonathan, Sam, Marty, Larry, Danielle, Twin, Jalen, Kadeem, Heather, Antonio, Cody, Hector, Teresa, Jorge, and countless others who have criminal records. They are under-employed, blocked from housing, burdened by child support payments accrued during incarceration, prevented from volunteering at their children's schools, and limited by addiction and behavioral health issues. Electing a Sheriff who will stand with us as we seek to engage criminal justice reform and dismantle mass incarceration matters to those we love.

At St. Stephen's and in ECCO, we care about our Presidential and Congressional elections because we love Angela, Juan, Jose, Joseph, Sid, Carlos, Marian, Enos, Emily, and countless others who are undocumented. They fear deportation dismantling their families and suffer when they cannot return home for the funeral of a loved one; they lack access to in-state tuition and scholarships for college; and they live in an economic underclass, which makes them vulnerable to unsafe work conditions and wage theft. Electing a President and Representative who will support pathways to citizenship matters to those we love.

As an Episcopal priest, I believe that each of us is created in God's image and beloved of God. God knew us before we were born and we are "wonderfully made." (Ps. 139) I love my privileged white, male, straight, educated sons and want the world for them. But I also love the people whom I serve in Lynn. I know my sons will vote in November. I work with ECCO to make sure that my congregation and city will vote on November 8 because these elections matter to those I love. And love votes!

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Jane Gould is the rector at St. Stephens Memorial Episcopal Church in Lynn, MA (http://www.ststephenslynn.org/). She is a clergy leader and board member of Essex County Community Organization, Massachusetts Communities Action Network, and PICO National Network.

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Find out more about PICO's Together We Vote voting campaign: www.piconetwork.org/campaigns/together-we-vote

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Originally posted on www.westandwithlove.org


Posted In: Together We Vote, Economic Dignity, Racial Justice, Immigration, Live Free

Love VOTES - Day 3

"I love you enough to fight for you," those were words that my mother shared with me about why she was driven not by fear or hate but by love to hitch a ride day after day 50 miles down Highway 80 from Demopolis, Alabama to Selma.

My mother the late Carrie Thelma Jefferson pressed her way to Selma to put her body on the line to ensure that not only would her 4 children have the right to vote when we were eligible but that her neighbors, seen and unseen, known and unknown would have the right and the opportunity to vote because love includes and hate excludes.

Steeped in our Black, southern church tradition I am certain my mother heard the words that she repeated to us often, "love conquers fear, love conquer hate." Alabama circa 1960 was the byproduct of fear and hate. Fear that produced dogs, in the streets and set off bombs in churches where little girls sat in Sunday School. It was love that produced resistance and even after being struck by a nightstick and jailed, mom loved enough to fight until all of GOD's children had access to the ballot box.

I asked her was she afraid she said her only fear was leaving the world the same and having her children bullied, bombed and barred from the ballot box.

On the streets of Ferguson, I faced tanks and tear gas, my faith and the DNA demanded that I resist retaliation and exhibit love. At the conclusion of this chaotic election season marred by hate filled rhetoric I will act out of love and choose candidates from City Hall to the White House that represent inclusion. Love votes; love votes for our future, the future of our children, love votes for the least of these.

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Reverend Dr. Cassandra Gould is the pastor of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Jefferson City, MO. She is the Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices, an affiliate of PICO National Network. She is an activist, a mother and a daughter. Follow her on Twitter @DRCGould.

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Find out more about PICO's Together We Vote voting campaign: www.piconetwork.org/campaigns/together-we-vote

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Originally posted on www.westandwithlove.org


Posted In: Racial Justice, Together We Vote

Love VOTES - Day 2

Cathedral builders of old designed plans that would take 250 years to complete, and they began the arduous task of constructing an edifice they would never occupy.

I've been challenged, lately, to think about life and contribution. Whether it's engaging with young men caught up in the cycle of gun violence or filling the streets with young women calling for police accountability; I want to see change immediately so I can reap it's benefits.

But I know life doesn't work that way.

I can only think these thoughts because other people, before me, didn't think that way. Grandmothers met in church basements, migrants huddled in sleeping quarters, pastors joined community organizing efforts, all to make a contribution.

And I get to live into the world of their faithfulness.

I ask myself, why did they do it?

What made them sacrifice that way?

I think it had to be love. They loved who they saw in front of them, and thus, loved those who were coming behind them.

This voting season, we have a choice as to whether we will make a contribution or not, but more importantly, we have an opportunity to love into the future for those who are coming behind us.

We have the opportunity to build cathedrals.

Dick Gregory says, "My mama talked about the devil so much, I'm a grown man before I found out the beauty of God!"

While there's so much ugliness to vote against, there also so much beauty to vote for.

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Ben McBride is an initiator, change agent, and entrepreneur. He is the Deputy Director of PICO California, a statewide affiliate of PICO National Network, and a leading voice in California's Proposition 47 campaign, which restructured laws and created more opportunities for treatment of those diseased with addiction. Follow Ben on Twitter at @benmcbride.

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Find out more about PICO's Together We Vote voting campaign: www.piconetwork.org/campaigns/together-we-vote

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Originally posted on www.westandwithlove.org

Posted In: Racial Justice, Together We Vote, Live Free
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