NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

The Progressive Christian Movement You Never Knew You Needed to Organize

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 Comment

  1. Those here in the NW who would like to see a nation­al pro­gres­sive satel­lite radio net­work and make a small con­tri­bu­tion to it hap­pen­ing, please write us to fur­ther it at It is 80 per cent ready to launch by radio pros as a non-com­mer­cial, even inter­faith endeav­or but still need to gath­er $3000 to start stream­ing again on web and apps and then anoth­er $8000 on satel­lite but let’s get it back on the web and apps first so it can do a world of good fur­ther­ing solu­tions, unit­ing peo­ple and coun­ter­ing big cor­po­rate media and right-wing reli­gion. Please share this with every­one you can and make a dona­tion, what­ev­er you can, at

    # by Don Fass :: July 17th, 2015 at 1:42 PM