Refreshing news from a clergy breakfast and a great history lesson from Neela Banerjee in yesterday’s Times:
But at this breakfast, God was everywhere, easily invoked by believers of various stripes.
“We are here this morning because, through our collective efforts, we are agents in bringing our fragile world ever closer to the promise of redemption,” Rabbi Dennis S. Ross, director of Concerned Clergy for Choice, told the audience. “As clergy from an array of denominations, we say yes to the call before us. Please join me in prayer: We praise you, God, ruler of time and space, for challenging us to bring healing and comfort to your world.”
“Amen,” the audience responded.
The Interfaith Prayer Breakfast has been part of Planned Parenthood’s annual convention for four years. Most ministers and rabbis at the breakfast have known the group far longer.
Margaret Sanger, founder of the organization that became Planned Parenthood, drew clergy members in the early 20th century by relating the suffering of women who endured successive pregnancies that ravaged their health and sought illegal abortions in their desperation, said the Rev. Thomas R. Davis of the United Church of Christ, in his book “Sacred Work, Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances.”
In the 1930’s, Jewish and mainline Protestant groups began to voice their support for birth control. In 1962, a Maryland clergy coalition successfully pressed the state to permit the disbursal of contraception. In the late 1960’s, some 2,000 ministers and rabbis across the country banded together to give women information about abortion providers and to lobby for the repeal of anti-abortion laws.
The whole story here
It’s tough to see clergy on the wrong side of an issue, especially when it’s my belief in G-d that moves me to do my social justice work. And for the most part, when it comes to a woman’s right to take care of her own body and health, most people would associate religious leaders with supressing a woman’s right to govern her own body (and then discriminating against those who would adopt). Did you know how important religious leaders were in this struggle? Hell, I didn’t know about the pivotal involvement of the religious community during the nexis of the pro choice movement until a few moments ago. Another great reminder that the fascists on the Right do not own G-d or the moral high ground.
Especially great to find out about religious leaders fighting the fight on April 4th, the day Republicans try to tell you the country lost a nice guy, not a man who fought tirelessly against war, poverty, and racism. Remind Bush, Pataki, and Bloomberg when they invoke Dr. King’s name: he was murdered while in Memphis supporting a public sanitation workers strike.