A Witness for Justice and the Common Good

Using religion to discriminate is not new

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo | 3/5/2014, 11:09 a.m.
"One of the privileges of living in the United States is the freedom to speak out and step forth on ...
M. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister for the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries.

One of the privileges of living in the United States is the freedom to speak out and step forth on any variety of issues. The public square in the United States provides the platform for our voices to be heard, whether we agree or disagree on the topic at hand.

There is power in public witness as we gather in nonviolent public demonstrations on the streets; visit or write letters to public officials; or engage in acts of service to help someone in need.

The Witness for Justice, first known as the Civil Rights Journal, has a long and rich history that has inspired and provoked dialogue through the years. It has been and will continue to be one way that we March Forth for Justice.

There are so many issues of injustice that arise every day. We need only turn on the radio or television, pick up a newspaper, or go online to learn about another court decision or another policy that is being enacted. Tragically, it’s hard to keep up with it all. But there has never been a greater time that the voices of the masses need to be heard.

One such headline that just hit the news is an action taken by the Arizona Legislature. Arizona Senate Bill 1062’s “exercise of religion” would have made it legal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Sadly, using religious conviction as the basis for discrimination is not new in this country.

History tells us that the Scriptures were used to justify the enslavement of African Americans. Furthermore, women continue to be excluded from leadership in our churches based on that same scriptural story.

The Bible is intended to be a guide for good and reasonable living; using it to exclude and discriminate goes against everything we have read and heard from the Prophets through the ages, including Jesus himself.

Let it be known that we absolutely and resolutely disagree that our Christian conviction gives us the right to exclude and discriminate against anyone at any time.

We add our Christian voice to the opposition of Arizona Senate Bill #1062 or any other such a law to become part of the social fabric of that state or any state in this nation.

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ.