Monday, November 21, 2016

Four reasons to boycott Salvation Army: LGBTQ, women, immigrants, and non-Christians

I wrote about the Salvation Army in 2010 and 2011, but this issue is now more important than ever with the rights of LGBTQ people being threatened under a Trump administration.

Here's why we need to pass on by those bell ringers and their red buckets during the holiday season:
Print out this dollar and put it into the red bucket instead!

Anti-LGBTQ: The Salvation Army is trying to repair its tarnished reputation on the issue (check out their Web site), but the facts lie in the leaked documents: their theology teaches that scripture forbids same-sex intimacy, they have no anti-discrimination policy, all of its officers must be celibate (gay or straight), and they still believe that marriage is only between one man and one woman. They deny that discrimination has occurred in the past, but no PR campaign can erase the history of its refusal to willingly embrace and welcome LGBTQ people.

Anti-women's equality: When Salvation Army officers get married, they are relegated to a much lower status and not given the same opportunities for advancement. Further, the organization gives a joint paycheck in the husband's name only. Essentially, the woman's pay comes in the form of the husband receiving 40% more in his pay because of his marriage. Citing a "ministerial exception," the Salvation Army gets out of following the Equal Pay Act.

The Salvation Army also is anti-abortion, but they do make exceptions for rape, danger to the mother, and fetal abnormalities that would hinder a baby's survival at birth. They do support birth control. (Hardcore Catholic groups actually bash The Salvation Army for not being staunch-enough abortion opponents and also for supporting birth control.)

Anti-immigrants: Not too long ago, children were asked about their parents' immigration status or their religion before receiving services. After a lawsuit in New York, they pledged to stop this discrimination in 2014.

Anti-secular or nonbelievers: Although they are officially an "equal opportunity employer," they are still allowed to discriminate against their employees who no longer attend their church. So although the Salvation Army does good work, this is a religious charity. You should know where your money is going.

So they've been forced, by law, to change with the times and not discriminate officially. That should make you feel better about where your money is going, right? ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Light One Candle: The Song We Need

Last night at our choir board meeting, I had everyone share their favorite holiday song. One of the members mentioned "Light One Candle." Yes, this is the song we need right now!

I first discovered this song, written by Peter Yarrow, on the Peter Paul and Mary holiday album. Many years ago, when our beloved Franciscan priest Fr. Matt began conducting peace and nonviolence workshops in partnerships with local priests and nuns, he asked me and Mike to sing this song as the opening for every workshop.

Then, we were asked to sing the song at the funeral of two young people involved in the workshops, Mark and Katie, who died in their prime, while on a hike in the Columbia Gorge. I will never forget that horrible evening...with two coffins at the front of the church. That song seemed apt for their lives, which were committed to peace and justice. Chris was just a baby then--and I remember him waving to everyone in the packed church while we were singing. Later, the grieving family commented that his waves cheered their souls.

Peter Yarrow cast his vote for Hillary, dressed in suffragette white, with just as much hope as the rest of us on November 8. On November 9, he shared this message on Facebook along with this beautiful song he wrote in October (Lift Us Up), also perfect for our times.
We endured a terrible blow yesterday but, now that it’s a fait accompli, we must focus with ever greater determination on doing “the work." The measure of our success will depend upon the strength of our hearts, our love for one another, and our commitment to the principles in which we believe. We must listen to the words and hearts of those with whom we are at odds, empathize with their narratives, and help to relieve their pain and distress. That does not mean, however, that we can or should forbid ourselves to be outraged by acts that seek to injure or destroy justice, fairness, liberty, or the goodness that is within us. Notwithstanding, we must be less preoccupied with what’s wrong and more focused on what it is that we need to create. Onward my friends, with ever greater resolve.
This great folk singer/songwriter, whom I've always adored, is still writing folk songs that are balm for the soul. And I treasure that lingering memory of baby Chris waving at the sad and bereft, reminding them that life goes on, and giving them hope. That's what we need right now...the baby at the funeral, and the candle in the darkness.

Light One Candle
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts (chorus)

What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail! (chorus)

Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rage and hope: the future will come anyway

Here it is, five days after the election, and I'm still feeling rage.

I am not usually an angry person. But I do not remember ever feeling this angry, for this long.

I feel rage at the media who spun the stories about Hillary, Benghazi, and who-cares-about-her-stupid emails, and those on the far left and far right who swallowed those stories and repeated them over and over again. I feel rage at James Comey and Anthony Weiner, and I feel rage at Donald Trump and the entire Trump machine. I feel rage at the people who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, wrote in Harambe or Bernie Sanders, or said that Hillary was just as bad as Trump--or unbelievably, "crooked" or "corrupt" (TrumpPot, meet Kettle!). And I feel rage at the men--and women, for God's sake!--who completely negated my and so many women's PTSD about our own sexual assaults and voted in a self-confessed sexual predator. As my husband commented today, it's like Trump is an abuser, and we are the victims. We just continue to take it, especially white women, who should know better.

Of course, not all Trump supporters are racist, misogynist xenophobes. But everyone who voted for Trump, or anyone but Hillary, saw a racist, misogynist, xenophobe and said to themselves one of these things:
"Donald Trump doesn't really mean the things he says!"
"I am so furious at the Democratic party that I don't care enough about disenfranchised people to protect them"
"This is an acceptable person to lead our country." 
The third party voters
 are equally responsible
 for the Cheeto Elect
Millions of people voted for him not because of his bigotry, but in spite of it. The brilliant Samantha Bee nails it: "Once you dust for fingerprints, it's pretty clear who ruined America: white many times do we expect black people to build our country for us?!?!?...If Muslims have to take responsibility for every member of their community, so do we....did you not hear people of color, begging you not to legitimize this?" (queue racist Trump rallies)

Trump and third-party voters: your votes or lack thereof unleashed the beasts of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia. I'm talking to you, Susan Sarandon. The Southern Poverty Law Center is tracking bullying and harassment all over the country, and in recent days my heart has been broken to hear about multiple racist and homophobic incidents in my hometown and my son's university campus...all conducted in the name of Trump. Are you surprised to see this, when this Bully-in-Chief was enthusiastically endorsed by the KKK and neonazis?

And then there's climate change. Ironically, the state most likely to suffer devastating effects from climate change is Florida, now a red, climate-denying state. In the next four years, the actions Trump and the Republican congress plan to make, rolling back everything President Obama has done in this area, will accelerate global warming and we'll all be in trouble.

Maybe Trump voters didn't realize this would happen. After all, if we get our news from Facebook, our political views completely skew the news that we see. Check out this handy Blue Feed, Red Feed tool from the Wall Street Journal that shows what you see in liberal and conservative news feeds. This, and the decline of objective journalism, is one of the reasons we are so divided in this country.
Now, here's my hope.

The media is saying "half the country" elected Donald Trump, and that's just plain wrong.

  • First of all, nearly half of registered voters did not vote in the presidential election. Damn. That still infuriates me!
  • Voting is hard in most of this country. It's not a fair, or easy system except for places where people can vote by mail.
  • Hillary won the popular vote, by what's expected to be 1.7%! 
  • Donald Trump won 26.3% of the nation's votes.
  • Although many millennials voted third party, they were much more likely to support Clinton than Trump.

What this means to me is that half the electorate is apathetic, thought Hillary would win so didn't think their vote mattered, or didn't like either of them. Brexit passed in the UK for similar reasons...a lot of young people didn't vote because they thought it would fail.

Trump was voted in by a small percentage of the country. Far more Americans didn't vote for Trump than voted for him, similar to the Republican primaries. So this is where my rage--and my hope--lies. With the millions of people on the secret Facebook groups supporting Hillary and peace and justice--and with the thousands of people peacefully protesting the election around the country.

The day after the election, Gloria Steinem said, "This was a vote against the future. And the future will come anyway." For those Trump voters longing for a "White Traditional Values America," this is their last desperate stand. The future is coming. We are a nation of immigrants. Own it. Thanks to climate change deniers, our children will pay the price. The future is coming, and it will not be pleasant.

My hope is that people come together and stand up to bigotry and racism. That businesses and state and local governments continue to challenge on the issue of climate change. That the grassroots organizes and raises up young, energized people to run for political office. That we shape the future for our children. That we maintain peace and avoid war. That women rise up and get educated instead of voting for their abuser. And that our children will carry the mantle of hope and peace, because their parents have failed them.

This has been a hard week for our kids. But they give me hope. May peace and justice prevail.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Signing the equal suffrage proclamation
 she wrote, with Governor Oswald West
Just a little over 48 hours ago, I was gathering with other women--and a few young men--at the grave of Abigail Scott Duniway, pioneer woman, teacher, writer and journalist, prolific orator, and suffragette who was responsible for helping women finally getting the vote in both Washington (1910) and Oregon (1912). She also helped her husband run a farm, ran a few schools and a millinery shop, launched and published her own weekly newspaper, published fiction and nonfiction, and raised six children.

She welcomed all to the suffrage cause: Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Christian Scientist, Spiritualist, Theosophist, and Pagan. Because of her steadfast campaigning, Oregon became the seventh state in the U.S. to pass women's suffrage. She was a badass, just like Hillary Clinton.

On the unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon on Tuesday, we were full of confidence we'd be toasting our first female president that evening. We had young boys with us, who proudly proclaimed themselves as feminists:

We had Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy with us too! (Dr. Lovejoy was the first woman appointed to direct a department of health in a major U.S. city, the Portland Board of Health.)
Some of my coworkers joined me:
My mom and friends from church also joined us, as well as others from our secret Pantsuit Nation Oregon group. Some wore white, one wore a clergy collar, some wore pantsuits, and some wore Hillary shirts. And the Oregonian sent a reporter and a photographer, in the hopes of recording history...which was not to be. At least not just yet.
Excited, hopeful women gather to pay homage
I understand many didn't like Hillary as a candidate, but I enthusiastically supported her candidacy. As the most qualified presidential candidate we've ever had, because she's a woman, she had to be 100 times as good as her opponent. Instead, she was only 99 times as good.

I am still grieving and raging this loss. I was an enthusiastic supporter of the most qualified presidential candidate we have ever had. I cried when I read inspiring stories on the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group about why women and men were voting for Hillary. I couldn't believe we would finally have a female president, a proud feminist. defender of women and children, and supporter of reproductive rights. Instead our country elected a self-identified sexual predator who is stoking the flames of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic hatred. My heart is broken.

And you'd damn well better not tell me "it will be okay." What happened on Tuesday is very much not okay.

But I am doing my best to move from rage to action. It's going to take some time.

"She flies with her own wings" is Oregon's motto and the title of one of Abigail Scott Duniway's books. I am reminded that it took five unsuccessful campaigns (in 1884, 1900, 1906, and 1910) to pass women's suffrage at last, in 1912. Abigail died three short years later in 1915. And so we fight on.

I am in it for our children...for my friends' children who are Muslim, Mexican, black, Jewish, LGBT, female, and scared shitless at the moment...and I'm in it for the white men I love too, like this guy:

This rage has got me back to blogging. Next: white people, what have we done?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I'm voting for Hillary on behalf of my foremothers

On this Day of All Souls, I am remembering four strong women who are no longer with us and honoring their spirits:

1.      My grandma Margaret, who had to drop out of school to start work in her mid-teens because her brother got sick and her family had no money to pay the hospital bill. She suppressed her great sense of humor and feisty spirit while she was married to my serious grandfather. But when he died, she remarried and was incredibly happy. She raised six sons (one died as a toddler), all who in turn married strong women who all worked outside the home. (That's me she's holding!)

2.      My friend Mary, who was one of the most spunky, opinionated, caring, and progressive women I’ve known. When our ELCA Lutheran church has discussed whether to move forward on a variety of initiatives (such as openly embracing the LGBT community many years ago), we could always count on Mary, one of the oldest members of the community, to say “Let’s do it! Why not?” (She's holding my son Kieran in this photo)

3.      My friend Clara, who endured abuse and great hardship as a girl and young woman but became a creative, amazing teacher of all ages, and who inspired everyone she met.

4.      My husband’s friend Serena, who was the fashion editor of the London Daily Telegraph, a prolific writer and traveler, and a STAUNCH democrat. She used to debate abortion rights with the conservative women in her retirement home. So sad that she died earlier this year and did not get to cast her vote for Hillary.

They are my foremothers, and I am thinking of them in my heart today and all week.

I'm voting against Trump because as a victim of sexual assault, I'm truly horrified that someone who despises and disrespects women as much as he does could become our president. And as a Christian who embraces diversity and people of all cultures, I'm equally horrified that he's actively supported by white supremacists (and has not rejected their support!) and spews hatred at Muslims, African-Americans, the disabled, Mexicans, veterans, LGBTQ folks, you name it, every day.

But even more important, I'm voting FOR Hillary because she is a feminist, has always fought for the welfare of women and children, is the most qualified candidate we’ve ever had, has proven her ability to work with others, does not hold a grudge (joining President Obama’s cabinet after losing the candidacy), and gets shit done. As Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did backwards in high heels, Hillary has endured more vitriol and scrutiny than any other candidate in history because of sexism, but she’s still standing. We’ve got her back. The Pantsuit Squad will help her rise up!