There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight of walking
in the noisy street and being the noise.
This morning, I had the honor of being asked to both speak and give a blessing at the Denver We Are Women Rally and March. The weather was beautiful (despite forecasts of rain and gloom) and we gathered in the Civic Center Greek Amphitheater, some 2000 strong: women, men, children. The signs people carried were fabulous. One of my personal favorites: Keep the Fundies out of my Undies .
There were many inspiring speakers and I was moved by our determination and unity. As I wrote to a new friend on facebook (a connection made because we were both at the rally): Isn't it amazing when we all stand in solidarity? How power to change the world is much more obvious when we are should to shoulder! This morning as we marched after the rally, like a pulsing conduit of strength and change, chanting slogans such as When women's rights are under attack what do we do? FIGHT BACK! I completely understood the sentiment of Rumi: we were walking in the noisy street; we were the noise; we were a community of spirit.
For those not able to be there, here is the text of my speech and blessing.
I have a confession to make! I am a religious fanatic! I am a religious fanatic for justice, equality, equal access!
In 1969 when gay minister Rev. Troy Perry spoke at a rally decrying laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians he said "I’m afraid my private parts are my own and what I do with them is my business and not the law’s!"
And I stand here today to say the same thing. Women’s bodies are not government property. Our health care decisions are not up for public debate. Your religious beliefs cannot cross the boundary of my body and my decisions.
I believe we are at a cross-roads in history where the vitriolic rhetoric of anti-choice politicians and faith leaders is filling the air with fear, lies, and shame. Now, more than ever, we need to amplify the voice of pro-choice faith leaders (and politicians) to reframe the discussion, rather than react to the hysteria of those who would seek to repress these basic human rights. The issue of reproductive rights and access to such basic heal thcare as birth control is not only morally and ethically compelling, it is theologically sound.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: This is not about religious freedom; it’s about the tyranny of the religious right and the attempt to hi-jack our nations human rights and civil liberties. We need to remember that our forebears were clear that the separation of church and state does not mean merely freedom of religion. It also means freedom from religion.
And when an employer’s religion trumps women’s access to basic health care; when laws are made based on religious opinions of a few and not grounded in the communal good of all; when the right to choose abortion is subjected to shaming ultrasounds and paternalistic authority; when a woman’s role in society is reduced to being a fetal incubator, we must stand up and speak out against this outrage. We must speak for women’s rights in the streets, we must shout it in the voting booths. As Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams (both Unitarians, let me just say), imploring him and the other framers of the US Constitution to include suffrage in that early document:
If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.
And I say today, we will not go back. We will not give in. We will not give up but we will press on with the conviction of all those who have justice on their side and we will prevail.
Would you pray with me:
Holy Mystery of Love and Justice who is beyond any name we might give, and who cannot be boxed into any denominational job description, we ask your blessing on this sacred convocation, we pray that you continue to give us courage to speak truth to lies, to speak boldly in the face of those who would seek to shame us into silence. We thank you for the solidarity we share, women and men of all ages, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and gender identity. We ask that you bless us and we ask that you open the eyes of women who would deny their own bodies for political gain, who would seek to shame and silence other women for social power. We pray for them, that their eyes be opened to how their very bodies have been colonized by the rhetoric of those who seek to keep women subjugated.
Be with us now as we sing for justice, as we march for justice, as we shout and work together for justice. May your voice be heard in ours, O Holy Love. In Your Many Names and in the Name of All that is Holy. Amen.