At the brink of the New Year, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, has issued a statement of love and inclusion, condemning racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and sexual assault as sins, re-establishing the church as sanctuary to the vulnerable, recognizing the gift of diversity and vowing to “fight for climate justice and protection of our environment.” From the SeattlePI:
Saint Mark’s Cathedral is ringing in the new year with a ringing defense of diversity in American life, with a definition of “religious liberty” worlds apart from right-wing evangelists calling for the freedom of believers to discriminate.
The governing vestry of Seattle’s Episcopal cathedral adopted a “Statement of Commitment and Action” just before Christmas, laying on the line its definition of what it means to “live the words of Jesus”. And it bluntly identifies what is sin:
“We will reject White Nationalism,” says the statement. “We will name racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia as sins. We believe all people are made in God’s image, and we affirm diversity as a gift, blessing and opportunity for our nation.”
The statement vows to “identify, report and confront” hate speech and behavior, and stands in support of “all ethnic and religious groups, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people with disabilities and all marginalized groups.”
The Saint Mark’s statement is 180 degrees apart from, say, the Rev. Franklin Graham’s “Decision America” tour in which the evangelist preached in front of all 50 state capitols. Graham will give the benediction at Trump’s inauguration.
Graham spoke against marriage equality and LGBTQ civil rights, and has been a vehement enemy of Islam. “They (Muslims) hate the God of the Bible and they hate those who follow Him,” Graham has written.
By contrast, says the Saint Mark’s statement: “We will defend religious liberty. We will embrace Muslims as fellow Americans and stand with our local mosques in congregational solidarity.
“We will denounce any defamation and banning of Muslims and will seek to disrupt any attempt to require registration of Muslims.”
The story also recounts St. Mark’s history of work in social justice:
During the Vietnam War, Catholic high school students from Seattle Prep trekked up the hill to get conscience-rooted draft counseling from the Rev. Murray Trelease, a priest on the staff of the Episcopal cathedral.
A newly installed dean, the Very Rev. Cabell Tennis, made news with a memorable Yuletide sermon that criticized President Nixon’s 1972 Christmas Eve bombing of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi.
A series of mass marches, on the eve of Gulf War I and Gulf War II, and to protest gun violence after the Newtown and the Orlando massacres, have crossed 1.4 miles of Capitol Hill from St. Mark’s to St. James Cathedral.
While the statement does not name Donald Trump or any other politician or political party, it speaks to the current climate in its opening:
We are concerned about the increase in statements and actions in our nation that target particular groups of people based on their skin color, their religious affiliation, their gender or orientation, their disabilities, or their country of birth. These are artificial divisions that we vehemently denounce as discriminatory and disrespectful. We believe our nation can do better, and we pledge to work toward that better vision here and now. We commit to being a network of activists, in God’s name, joining others who similarly pledge to actively pursue justice.
The entire statement can be read here.