Below is an excerpt from my remarks shared at a Press Conference today in response to the Executive Order for Religious Freedom that the president is expected to sign on this National Day of Prayer.
What a gift it is to live in a country that has been called the land of the FREE. Where hopes and dreams are both birthed and nurtured into new life, and everyday we see glimpses of light and justice for all people!
But, today, we stand on the precipice of a future where that freedom is threatened by an empire that is out of balance. It feels threatened by systems that are willing to compromise our most foundational liberties: equal protections under the law, separation of church and state, and religious liberty. And so today, we ask ourselves: of what freedoms do we speak? And for what freedoms are we willing to stand up?
Ours, as people of this FREE nation, is a story that was founded upon Religious Liberty, and it is our duty and privilege as people of deep faith to affirm and protect the sacred worth of all humanity, and to hold fast to the integrity with which our collective story was written.
Our 45th President prepares to sign an Executive Order today that “flies in the face of that rich diversity by enshrining one extreme religious perspective--on marriage, gender identity, health care, and the role of houses of worship in partisan politics--into law, above all others.” It is imperative that we fight against the discrimination woven into the fine print this order. There are negative implications for women and their reproductive rights, for LGBTQ persons and their families, and even children in the foster care system.
And so, we must re-imagine our story as diverse people within a broken system, but with an eye towards equality and compassion, and in our own best interest as a nation, choose, instead, to make decisions that will foster improved economic, social, behavioral and spiritual outcomes for our entire citizenry.
So, I will ask you again, for what freedoms are you willing to stand? Where every child in America is afforded the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? This is the America we stand for.
Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas
Pastor, Community United Church of Christ
Raleigh, North Carolina