We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson

Bottom line: abortion is healthcare. Nearly a fourth of women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Every day, people across the United States make deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies. Those decisions deserve respect.

Someone once asked me: John, why are you a feminist?  It is always a jarring question because I believe all people should be feminists and we should all fight for gender equality no matter what.  I’ve been drawn to Martin Niemöller’s prolific quote:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Right now, it seems like a full on frontal assault against all of us.  No matter what community you’re in, you can draw back to an instance of discrimination you’ve faced both pre-2016 as well as after the election of President Trump. Continue reading “We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson”

Encountering Spirit: A Ritual of Blessing for an Abortion Clinic by Katey Zeh

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

For the last year I have had the honor of serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). This leadership role often requires great personal and professional sacrifices and yet blesses me tenfold in return. At this moment in history I can think of no more important organization to offer my time and gifts than on behalf of RCRC.

Last week RCRC partnered with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW) to hold an Interfaith Unity Ceremony to honor their brand new health center in southeast D.C. I had the privilege of joining more than sixty clergy, justice leaders, and clinic staff as were led by the Reverend Doctors Dennis and Christine Wiley, co-pastors of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, through an interfaith service of blessing. There was drumming from the all female percussion band Balatá, testimonies from providers and patients, poetry, liturgical dance, a Hindu chant, and a ritual of healing from the shame and stigma surrounding abortion.

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

At one point during the service a colleague of mine turned to me and whispered, “I’ve got goose bumps. Something is happening here, isn’t it?” I said, “Yes, Spirit is here.”

Many might find an encounter with the sacred at a Planned Parenthood surprising to say the least. It might have been for me had I not experienced something quite similar ten years ago. At the time I was a seminary student at Yale, and I had recently participated in RCRC’s pastoral care training on how to walk alongside women making decisions about their unplanned pregnancies. Before I offered any kind of counseling I wanted to see for myself what went on in abortion clinic. After taking a tour of the local Planned Parenthood health center I was so moved by the love and kindness of the doctors and support staff that I decided to volunteer on days when abortions were provided. Through that experience I felt the holy nudge to dedicate my ministry to supporting the work of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and standing up for the rights and dignity of those who need access to safe, legal abortion care.

Now, almost a decade later, I found myself back in a health center. That time of being amongst my people, surrounded by words and sounds of truth affirming the sacred decisions of women about their bodies and lives, felt like I had tasted my first bite of food after a long, difficult fast. I didn’t realize how much over these last few months I had been starving for hope, love, and life-giving energy until that ritual of blessing held within the walls of the Planned Parenthood health center.

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

Later that night on my drive back to the airport I found myself repeating the same simple prayer, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the way that ritual had restored my spirit and affirmed my call to ministry. For the first time I felt prepared to take on the heavy burden of the next four years. I am ready. Are you?

Katey Zeh, M.Div is a thought leader, strategist, and connector who inspires intentionalKatey Headshot communities to create a more just, compassionate world through building connection, sacred truth telling, and striving for the common good.  She has written for outlets including Huffington Post, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, Response magazine, the Good Mother Project, the Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion, and the United Methodist News Service. Her book Women Rising will be published by the FAR Press in 2017.  Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com




Kasich Cuts Women by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileKasich is cutting women from Ohio’s budget. In an attempt to prove himself a conservative and worthy of the title of POTUS, he has taken a step towards joining the ranks of Trump and Cruz using fear and misogyny as primary tactics.

Beginning with his defunding of Planned Parenthood in Ohio, Kasich is participating in the ongoing marginalization of women in the US based on supposed Christian values. His comment that “women are coming out of the kitchen to support me” demonstrates his inability to recognize the important role that women play in this nation. Likewise, it shows support for the ongoing notion that women belong in the home, and idea firmly entrenched in Christian dogma.

The former Catholic now Anglican presidential candidate continues to buy into the idea of complementarity, that men and women have distinct roles, a teaching Pope Francis calls “an anthropological fact.” And what does this mean? That women belong in the home, rearing children, and cooking for their husbands while men do the “important” work. Continue reading “Kasich Cuts Women by Gina Messina-Dysert”

The Politics of Being a Woman in a “Christian Nation” by Gina Messina-Dysert, Jennifer Zobair and Amy Levin

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The far right is pitting God against women. Mike Huckabee’s support for the decision to deny a 10-year-old rape victim an abortion is just another example in a long history that continues this election season.

At Fox News’ Republican Presidential debate in Cleveland, Jeb Bush boasted that, informed by his faith, he “defunded planned parenthood and created a culture of life in my state.” When Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker if he would “really let a mother die rather than have an abortion,” he refused to temper his position that there should be no exceptions to his “pro-life” position.

Ted Cruz professed “God speaks to me every day through the scriptures and this informs my position on religious liberty, life, and marriage.” And Marco Rubio argued that even in the case of rape, women should not have the ability to make choices about their pregnancies. Sadly, such proclamations ignore individual rights, freedom of religion, and the fact that faith as a guiding principle can be dangerous when the foundational teachings of social justice are ignored. Continue reading “The Politics of Being a Woman in a “Christian Nation” by Gina Messina-Dysert, Jennifer Zobair and Amy Levin”

Why I’m Not Watching by Katey Zeh

Katey HeadshotI just can’t. The Planned Parenthood sting operation videos. The GOP debates earlier in the month. I can’t bring myself to watch them. I used to jump without hesitation into the thick of the most vitriolic political exchanges and stand my self-righteous ground with the best of them, but I just can’t anymore.

I can’t. And I won’t. I do recognize that when I choose to tune out the noise of public debate, I am opting out of the conversation, at least in part. I shouldn’t be commenting directly on events of which I am not aware and informed. Nor should anyone else for that matter. I do end up relying on a community of commentators to fill in what I’ve missed by not watching. Continue reading “Why I’m Not Watching by Katey Zeh”

The Real Reasons America Hates “Octomom” by Tricia Pethic

Tricia PethicMany of us participate in dehumanizing Nadya Suleman, depriving her even of her own name by virtue of using the term ‘Octomom.’ Suleman has few people on her side of the ring, partly because she embodies what both conservatives and liberals hate most. Suleman recently made news again on charges of welfare fraud; she may spend up to eight years in prison. If Suleman does go to prison, I hope she ends up where I work so I could tell her what I really think: that America’s hatred of her has more to do with them than it does with her. And I’d remind her of God’s mercy and compassion: something I think has been absent from this discussion.

We recognize the name Nadya Suleman, yet how many people recognize the name Michael Kamrava? Kamrava was the doctor who injected Ms. Suleman with twelve embryos which earned him a suspension of his medical practice. Why is Ms. Suleman not known primarily as a victim of medical malpractice? Continue reading “The Real Reasons America Hates “Octomom” by Tricia Pethic”

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