You are likely familiar with the phrase "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiates 3:1). Some verses later, you can read "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
When we were employed as licensed mental health counselors, college chaplains, hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, church pastors and trained spiritual directors, it was "a time to keep silence" about our partisan political views. In those years, we were restrained from publicly declaring our support for candidates for political office because of the positions we held. Now, we’re retired. Now, it is "a time to speak!"
We have personally listened to many LGBTQ persons speak their stories. We have felt their anxiety, rejection, fear and pain as they told their stories of being attacked, bullied, rejected and ostracized, often by their own families and their religious brothers, sisters and faith leaders. We have seen the shame others have put upon them, as we looked upon them with their slumped shoulders and downcast eyes. We have watched tears run down their faces. For too long, families and people, in general, would "keep silence," rather than support them as beloved children of God, even though God created each of us with the sexual orientation and gender identity we have.
God is the god of love. God is love. God wills equality and justice for all persons. God shows no favoritism and does not discriminate.
Sadly, the 2019 Southern Poverty Law Center Year in Hate and Extremism report showed a nearly 43% spike in anti-LGBTQ hate groups. Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, the report found, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019, rising from 49 in 2018 to 70 the following year.
On June 15, in the middle of Pride Month, the Supreme Court ruled that federal laws protect LGBTQ persons from being fired and other harmful employment decisions based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, immediately said: "Today is a victory for both LGBTQ+ Americans and our entire nation. Let us reject discrimination and hate, embrace fairness and equality and set course toward a better future for all."
In case you think Bustos said this just because it’s an election year, please know she was one of the initial signers of the Equality Act to protect LGBT Americans in employment, education, credit, housing, public services and space, federal funding and jury service. It was introduced in the U.S. Congress on July 23, 2015. It has been "a time to speak" for LGBTQ+ persons for Rep. Bustos for many years.
In June, Bustos participated in Equality Illinois’ first statewide Pride event. She posted a video of her recognition of that Pride event and Pride month on her Facebook page. Bustos knows it is "a time to speak."
Mayor Chris Lain of Savanna, the first out gay mayor to be elected in Illinois, and the Human Rights Campaign have endorsed for re-election as our U.S. representative in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.
Love for all others ("Love your neighbor as yourself" — Mark 12:31) and reciprocal justice ("Do to others as you would have them do to you" — Matthew 7:12) are principles that matter to us.
We read on the campaign website of Esther Joy King, Bustos’ opponent, that she is "fighting for all Illinoisans" and that "it’s time for principles that matter." Sadly, we can find nothing she has said or written about equal rights for all Illinoisans, reciprocal justice for all, including liberty and justice for all, as we declare in our Pledge of Allegiance, the Supreme Court LGBTQ+ ruling or defending LGBTQ+ persons when they have been under attack. She said nothing even during Pride Month, when it would have been a very convenient time for her to do so. These must not be "principles that matter" to her. Obviously, it is more "a time to keep silence" than "a time to speak" for her. We wonder, "Just what does Esther Joy King really think about LGBTQ rights?"
Rep. Cheri Bustos speaks the principles that matter to us, while Esther Joy King remains silent.
If you care about human rights and equal justice for all persons, then support and vote for Rep Cheri Bustos because it has been "a time to speak" for her for many years.
Rep. Cheri Bustos has our support and will have our votes.
The Rev. Donnley Dutcher of Freeport is a retired United Church of Christ Minister.
Contributing: the Revs. Carol Ahrens, Gavin Brandt, Becky Hebert, Diane Jochum and Hugh Knapp, all of Freeport.
via Rockford Register Star
July 18, 2020 at 02:48PM