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Long Island Bishop adds his voice in opposition to Trump rally at scene of hate crime

Long Island Bishop adds his voice in opposition to Trump rally at scene of hate crime

In 2008, 37 year-old Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero approached an intersection near his home on Long Island.  He was confronted by a gang of teens who admitted they regularly targeted Hispanic immigrants. They called the altercations “beaner hopping.”  Lucero was walking with a friend when the teens began yelling ethnic slurs and approached them. Lucero hit Jeffrey Conroy, then 17, in the head with a belt. Conroy lost his temper, took out a folding knife and fatally plunged it into Lucero’s chest.

And now, presidential candidate hopeful Donald Trump, whose often hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric has been a cornerstone of his campaign, has planned a rally near where Lucero was attacked and and killed.  In the years since, racial tensions have eased, but many worry that this campaign event would re-open old wounds and roll back much of the progress that has been made.

Among those concerned is Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano, the bishop of Long Island who joined others calling for Suffolk Republicans to cancel a fundraising event featuring Donald Trump.  At the same time, immigrant groups warned that the event at the Emporium nightclub and concert venue Thursday would incite further violence against Latinos and strengthen the forces of bigotry and racism.

In a pastoral letter “to the diocese and especially to immigrant families,” Bishop Provenzano writes;

I write to assure you that in the face of the reckless and hateful attitudes portrayed by some in this political season, there are many more people of good will and faith that stand with you against the toxic, irresponsible rhetoric of some of the candidates for president.

Specifically, you should know that the planned fundraiser by the Republican Party in Suffolk County featuring Donald Trump, just yards away from the scene of the 2008 murder of Marcelo Lucero, will not go unmet by people of prayer and good will.

Anticipating complaints about the church imposing itself into the political arena (as candidate Trump complained in remarks about Pope Francis earlier this year), the bishop responded;

Let me be clear then, my focus is not the political process or the endorsement of any candidate, but rather the exercise of my role as a bishop of the church, to protect God’s people and especially those in my diocese.

It is my job to oppose evil, ignorance, and sin. This planned “political event” in Patchogue meets all three criteria.  Either the organizers are ignorant of the days when there appeared to be open season on immigrants—especially day-workers and their families—or the entire event is designed to reignite the hatred that existed and use it for political gain. Either way, you should know that the church stands with you. And we will continue to stand with you, as in the past, against the ignorance and violence of those who focus on hate and seek to draw others into their fear of people who are different from themselves.

What do you think?   Is there a proper role for the church to claim a voice in the political realm to call out and oppose evil, ignorance and sin?  Less than a week ago, the church marked the feast day of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose opposition to the Nazi’s in Germany led to his execution.  What costs are we as church and as individuals willing to bear?


For more on this story see this article in Newsday




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Dr. William A Flint, MDiv, PhD

God is not a politician. All are welcome at the Altar no matter who they support for President of the United States. May I remind us that the Body and Blood of Christ does not belong to us. This is a gift from God. Stop acting like babies and grow up.

Dr. William A Flint, MDiv, PhD

I know thousands of Episcopalians that are on the verge of leaving the TEC and it is over politics.

Ann Fontaine

I have heard that all my life in the church. What I know is that when PB Hines started talking politics – that is when I came back to the church.

Jerald Liko

I applaud the bishop’s statement. If there’s anything we’re lacking in TEC today, it’s politics pouring down from the pulpit. Trump supporters will actually be kneeling at Episcopal communion rails all over the country come Sunday morning, believing they’re in a place where the maelstrom of political anger ceases. It’s about time someone set them straight.

I am only saddened by the fact that Mr. Trump will win the New York primary, and the bishop’s noble protest will be in vain.

Or just regular vain.

JC Fisher

Hmmm. I believe in preaching the Gospel in a way that should tweak the conscience (including our political conscience) of us all.

However, I’m not sure of either the usefulness or the value of “politics pouring down from the pulpit…the maelstrom of political anger”. In the U.S. today, I believe we need less heat and more light.

Peter Kohler

Where in the Ordination of a Bishop (BCP) does it say that the job description is to “oppose, evil, ignorance and sin?” Where does it say the Bishop’s role is to “protect God’s people?” These are worthy aspirations, but when invoked in a blatant political attack that is inaccurate, partisan and foolish is embarrassing to this life-long Episcopalian, who is no supporter of Donald Trump.

Marshall Scott

From the examination of the bishop-elect (BCP p. 518): “Will you boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of your people?….

Will you be merciful to all, show compassion on the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper?….”

I think those two commitments would address the response in this situation, and might reasonably be summarized under the categories of opposing “evil, ignorance, and sin.”

Rev. Miguel A. Hernandez

Thanks (Gracias) Bishop (Obispo) Lawrence C. Provenzano.

Este es un importante ejemplo sobre Justicia Social y el papel de la Iglesia / This is an important example of Social Justice and the role of the Church.


The Rev. Miguel A Hernandez
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
West Orange, N.J.

Stuart Schadt

Many of the issues dear to the heart of Jesus; caring for the hungry, the thirsty, those in prison, the sick and little children in this day and age require a corporate solution and we only achieve that corporate allocation of funds through our political system. I believe we are also called to speak against violence and bigotry of all types. For us to be silent is for us to be irrelevant. I am careful when I do this in a sermon and I regularly make the points: 1. I hope we can agree on the need. 2. Good Christian people can disagree on how to address the need. 3. You don’t have to agree with me to be a good christian or a faithful member of the parish where I preach.

Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

True. The church walks a fine line in a politically charged environment.

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