I will be at the Women Standing Our Ground Rally next Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Greenfield, MA – in solidarity with the women who will be marching in Washington, D.C., Boston, MA, and many cities all around our country. I will be wearing my clergy collar, and identifying myself not only as a woman who stands with other women, but as a clergy person who stands with them also. I will be carrying a banner for the United Church of Christ, who also stands with them. I am being asked why I will be there, and it is hard for me to give a short answer. I go as both a clergy person, and also as a woman. I cannot separate those two, though others have tried to do so by telling me I couldn’t be the one because I was the other. Open my mouth, and so very much comes out!
I want women everywhere to know that I stand with them in telling our new President, Donald Trump, our new Vice President, Mike Pence, and all of their incoming administration that I am afraid of what their office may do to erode women’s rights, hard won across decades and centuries by women and men of great courage. I fear that a climate of dismissive chauvinism is back on the rise, a climate in which it is acceptable to sexually harass women with both words and actions, to demean women by objectifying them, and to keep them down from equal access in education, salary, social status, career access, and self-determination. I cannot be silent in the face of this threat, and I stand to lift my voice. Please, Mr. President, don’t let this climate prevail.
I stand with other women and men to say that we can never go back to a time when women could not get access to safe, compassionate reproductive care when they struggled with complications of dangerous pregnancies for both medical and mental illness reasons; died or were disabled from botched abortions; suffered mental and spiritual trauma of bringing to birth a child forced on them through the rape of an enemy, a friend, a family member; had to give up their children because they had a family so big they couldn’t feed them all. These dilemmas happen every day for women around the world, and it is complicated and messy and no one answer fits all. Women’s bodies are not warehouses stocked by the state or the country - their bodies belong to them alone and what happens within their bodies should always be determined by them alone in freedom and safety, with access to a skilled medical doctor and a faith leader if they want one.
I stand as a woman of faith who wants to protect these freedoms for myself and all who express female identity, of every race and ethnicity and economic status. I stand to protect how far we’ve come, but also to expand these rights where in our country they have been eroded and blocked by racism, sexism, economic greed, political posturing, and the claim of religion to impose restriction on others. Our constitution defends us against that, and rightly so. You have the right to make the best decisions you can for your complicated, often messy human life as long as it doesn’t take away my own ability to do the same – these are the boundaries we have agreed on as a society that attempts to forward the notion of live and let live, that all may have access to flourish. As a woman of faith, I believe “all” means all of us, each created in the diverse creativity of our God from whom all life springs - not just those of the right economic status, class, ability, religion, political power, skin color, sexual preference or gender expression.
Finally, I stand as a clergy person who has prayed about my Christian faith a lot and who believes I cannot ever know the mind of God when humans struggle in the complexity of who we are. But I am certain that Love grows in freedom and not under force, and I believe Christ died on the cross because he accepted that humanity needed ultimately to find his message of Love in freedom, and he would not force it on us. Instead, he met us in our violent brokenness, in his own death at our hands, saving us by triumphing over that death with new life, inviting us always to find him away from fear and into hope. My faith calls me to speak this truth, and to witness it to our new President and his administration, and to all who have the ability to impact our lives in this beautiful country. I will continue to pray for him and all who go forward now to lead us for the next four years, and I hope you will join me in this.
Where choice and freedom are, there can love and life grow. This is true for me as a person of faith for all people, all beings on this earth, and even the earth itself. But for next Saturday, I am standing in solidarity particularly and especially for women to have these choices and freedoms. This I believe, and it is this I stand to protect, and defend, on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
There will be a "Women Standing Our Ground Rally" in solidarity with the Washington march on Jan. 21 at 12:30 PM in Greenfield.
Marisa Brown Ludwig has invited UCC folk who would like to march together in Greenfield to meet at 12:15 PM. Read more here.
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