It’s the last pan­el of the day at Net­roots Nation, but ener­gy still seems high. We start out the pan­el with a video by the Rev­erend William Bar­ber, who was unable to make it to the con­ven­tion because of a court case. In this video he talks about the need for a rhetoric of moral­i­ty, because ide­o­log­i­cal or par­ti­san nar­ra­tives each fall short. He traced a line through top­ics like vot­ing rights, pover­ty, Recon­struc­tion to high­light the impor­tance of the Moral Mon­days move­ment he helped to start. In this he also high­light­ed the impor­tance of inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty and talk­ing about mul­ti­ple issues to cre­ate a trans­for­ma­tion in our society.

After the video the Rev­erend Jen­nifer Bai­ley gave a run­down on recent devel­op­ments in the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment and made sure that San­dra Bland was remem­bered, because black women can be eas­i­ly for­got­ten in the move­ment. She made sure to point out that if out­rage is not in our analy­sis of these killings, the God she wor­ships and the God we wor­ship are not the same. In the last part of her intro­duc­tion she points out that many Chris­tians jump too quick­ly to hope and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in the face of these killings, and not to much in the lament and grief as a path for­ward to cre­at­ing a just society.

Rev­erend Alisa Guardi­o­la Gon­za­lez and Daniel Ney­oy Ruiz were then intro­duced, as part of the Sanc­tu­ary move­ment here in Ari­zona. The Sanc­tu­ary move­ment is a faith-based move­ment, based upon the reli­gious prac­tice of sanc­tu­ary, which works to stop depor­ta­tions and pro­vide sup­port and pro­tec­tion to peo­ple fac­ing immi­nent depor­ta­tion orders. The Rev­erend explained the his­to­ry and prac­tice of sanc­tu­ary, and how the move­ment was revived (many of the church­es involved were also involved in the sanc­tu­ary move­ment in the 80s which housed refugees flee­ing vio­lence in El Sal­vador and Guatemala.

Daniel then explained his sto­ry, which was also writ­ten about in an arti­cle by The Nation two months ago:

Ney­oy Ruiz says that he had just had his car worked on before the inci­dent and was nev­er issued a tick­et. His car was impound­ed on the spot.

“I think they stopped me because I looked His­pan­ic,” he says.

Ney­oy Ruiz’s case kicked off the lat­est incar­na­tion of the sanc­tu­ary move­ment when he moved into South­side Pres­by­ter­ian and announced that he would stay as long as it took to win a stay of depor­ta­tion. Less than a month passed before he was grant­ed a one-year stay and returned home.

“What it means to me is anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty for me and my fam­i­ly to fight for me to stay,” he says. “If it were just me, maybe I would go back. But I have my son here; he’s a US citizen.”

In this pan­el, Daniel stat­ed that he did­n’t know how long he would have to stay at the church he was seek­ing refuge, but it was the face of his son that got him through that time. He’s been able to receive two stays of removal, a tes­ta­ment to the strength of the Sanc­tu­ary movement.

Macky Alston was the last pan­elist. Macky is a founder of Auburn Media, which trains faith lead­ers in media rela­tions to help them suc­ceed in their strug­gles for jus­tice. He showed us a video where a Methodist church leader suc­cess­ful­ly inter­act­ed with Lou Dobbs to defend some­one who had tak­en sanc­tu­ary in a Methodist church. This pan­el came full cir­cle to the video by Rev­erend Doc­tor Bar­ber at the begin­ning, of the impor­tance of lead­ing these con­ver­sa­tions with val­ues and moral stories.

He explained a piece of research he did, to find a Chris­t­ian case for LGBT rights. They found it with what he termed “con­flict­ed Chris­tians” who knew peo­ple that were LGBT and knew LGBT folks that were in many cas­es “bet­ter Chris­tians” than they were. They found it, and used these frames to train orga­niz­ers in the mar­riage equal­i­ty ref­er­en­dums of 2012.

He reem­pha­sized that “high school debate mode” does­n’t win. Peo­ple need to be iden­ti­fied, and their sto­ries need to be told. Facts and data aren’t going to be com­pelling, some­thing here at NPI that we have tried to con­sis­tent­ly talk about in our advocacy.

There were a cou­ple of ques­tions from the audi­ence, first about fram­ing, and then a ques­tion about for­give­ness from the fam­i­lies of the Charleston shoot­ing vic­tims to Dylan Roof, where the Rev­erend Bai­ley spoke about the need to not judge some­one’s morn­ing or grief, but that there needs to be an under­stand­ing and a place for rage at these actions, and rage at sys­temic racism and oppression.

This was a very com­pelling and impor­tant dis­cus­sion about pro­gres­sive faith-based move­ments, and how cru­cial they are to social jus­tice move­ments. Many times they are dis­count­ed by oth­er pro­gres­sive orga­niz­ers, but these move­ments make up the moral back­bone of the work we do for a bet­ter world.

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One reply on “The Progressive Christian Movement You Never Knew You Needed to Organize”

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