The Temple of Understanding joins colleagues in horror over the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the travel ban targeting Muslims. This is so outrageous that we all need to voice our objection to the court’s blatant Islamophobia. We agree with dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor that this is “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”
The Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters campaign of the Islamic Networks Group writes:
This decision sets a dangerous precedent by upholding a government policy directed against adherents of a specific religion — a policy that targets Muslim-majority countries for religious discrimination. [link]
They call on the interfaith community to increase interfaith engagement, dialogue with our neighbors, engagement with Muslims and their faith, and coming together to uphold our values, including respect for “the principle of justice, religious liberty, and equality in word and deed.”
Valarie Kaur, Esq., founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, writes:
History will remember this decision as among the most shameful rulings in the history of the Supreme Court: It upholds a ban that indefinitely separates U.S. citizens from their Muslim families. It sends a message to the world that America will discriminate against entire groups of people based on their faith. It emboldens the Trump administration to continue policies that enact cruelty, racism and xenophobia toward immigrants and refugees at the border and our airports. [link]
She reminds us to reach out, march, vote; Breathe and Push.
URI Community Responds to Supreme Court Travel Ban and offers ways to resist:
The best way to resist the harmful, isolating effects of fear and division is by reaching out and making a human connection. We suggest taking actions, such as:
- Reach out to comfort a friend or colleague from a community targeted by this ban.
- Raise your voice on social media.
- Join with others in your community to demand policy change and show public support for Muslim families.
From Grove Harris, TOU UN Representative:
I have enjoyed meeting some awesome activists from Puerto Rico who are organizing a historic citizen’s debt audit. Puerto Rico is crippled by debt, some of which is illegal, and all of which needs to be transparent in its sources, expenses, and uses.
Organizers write that “Citizens debt audits have been conducted in over 18 countries, including Brazil, France and Argentina, and these audits have produced concrete results without government participation. “
Their brochure lists irregularities and illegalities, including violations of the constitution, conflict of interest, excessive profiting, false representation, omission of risk factors and lack of legal authorization.
“Many PR creditors are hedge fund and US financial speculators, who bought bonds cheaply for as little as 5 cents but insist on a total re-payment – some for a return of investment of 1,900%! These are abusive profits for unscrupulous speculative investors in exchange for our public services.”
The video on their website is powerfully inspiring. with diverse citizens calling for debt audit NOW.
The debt crisis, which includes “harsh austerity measures to ensure payment for a legally dubious public debt”, is a human rights issue, as is the environmental pollution, exploitation and privatization.
It is my privilege to listen to courageous women tackling systemic problems, and my responsibility to share their model towards real change, and the request to support it.
Via the Women’s Major Group, one of TOU’s partners representing the rights of women worldwide in the United Nations processes on Sustainable Development:
PRESS RELEASE: Adoption of the Gender Action Plan at COP23, by Women & Gender Constituency
Adoption of the first Gender Action Plan under the UNFCCC
(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
15 November 2017
On Tuesday November 14, 2017, the first ever Gender Action Plan to the UNFCCC was adopted at COP23. Its overall goal is to support and enhance the implementation of the gender-related decisions and mandates so far adopted in the UNFCCC process through a set of specific activities to be conducted within the next 2 years.
Kalyani Raj, All India Women’s Conference
“The adoption of the Gender Action Plan (GAP) is a positive step forward. It goes to reassure some of our work at the national level particularly relating to gender integration into climate change policies and related schemes. We would be happy to work with our government at the implementation level and hope to close bigger gaps impeding gender inequality with the GAP.”
Bridget Burns, co-focal point of the Women and Gender Constituency and co-director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO)
“We are well beyond the time for real action on gender-just climate policies.The Gender Action Plan (GAP) serves as an important accelerator in advancing multiple mandates for gender equality that exist under the UNFCCC. But, the test will be in the implementation. We will be holding governments accountable, both developed countries in putting serious financing into gender-responsive policy development as well as all countries in fulfilling human rights via their climate plans. For a truly gender-just climate change framework, we must continue to demand climate justice from the entire process.”
Shradha Shreejaya, Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
“The proceedings on GAP have been reassuring. Keeping in mind however the urgency of the climate crisis, especially in Asia-Pacific and Africa, we need strengthened action and solidarity from developed countries in terms of committing to finance GAP as well as Loss and Damages, something that’s still amiss from COP 23 decisions.”
Dinda Yura, Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
“We now have Gender Action Plan, as one step of the milestones for gender equality and women’s empowerment through inclusiveness of women as well as gender sensitive and responsive policies and actions in all elements of mitigation, adaptation, capacity building, technology transfer, and finance. What we need to think and do further in the implementation is how to use GAP and mainstreaming gender justice principles and be integrated in policies and climate actions, in particularly at national and local level, to ensure there is no climate policies and actions that violate women’s rights and the rights of women can be protected in the midst of climate crisis.”
Gotelind Alber, board member of GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice and co-founder of the Women and Gender Constituency
“The Gender Action Plan is a milestone in our longstanding efforts to integrate gender into the international climate process. If properly implemented, resourced and monitored it bears the potential to move us closer to achieving women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in the UNFCCC process and the development and implementation of gender-responsive and human rights based climate policies in all thematic areas of the process as well as on national and sub-national levels.”
Priscilla M Achakpa, Director of Women’s Environmental Programme and gender expert on the Nigerian Delegation
“Now that the GAP has been adopted, it is time to work collectively from the regional to the global level while ensuring that resources and made available for the full implementation of the GAP. We cannot afford to fail, grassroots, indigenous population and communities must be fully integrated in the GAP.”
Anne Barre, Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) International
“The GAP is essential because there is still so much to do to bridge the “gender gap” and have more efficient climate policies! For example in climate finance, according to the OECD 2017 report, less than 5% of climate funds have gender as a main objective. Thus women’s priorities are being totally neglected, and women have no direct access to climate funding. And yet, many innovative solutions on the ground exist today that should be upscaled with direct access to the Green Climate Fund. In turning the patriarchal system upside down, we will be able to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement.”
Marta Benavides, social movements, El Salvador, Latin America
“Women have been at the forefront of human development, for women caring for the planet and the well being of nature and humans in their families and communities. The Gender Action Plan is an affirmation of that. As it is the affirmation of the indigenous peoples path. It was a historical debt for the climate process. We now expect to start working for the essentials of the climate process: to work effectively and urgently to keep global warming under 1.5°C and to move effectively on all needed levels towards a just transition and to ensure that really and for good No One Is Left Behind.”
The Women and Gender Constituency to the UNFCCC
Tuesday, 14 November, 2017
COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany
Climate change is one of the most daunting global challenges of our time. As changing temperatures, weather patterns, and ecological systems threaten communities all over the world, the effects will be felt differently between the global North and South, various social classes, and between men and women. Just as any disaster can exacerbate existing social differences, climate change can be expected to worsen the distinction between men, women, and gender-nonconforming individuals in terms of opportunity, safety, and general wellbeing. In addition to the looming threat posed by climate change, gender distinctions in relation to environmental issues can already be observed. According to the Women’s Environmental Development Organization (http://wedo.org,) only 12% of federal environment ministries worldwide are headed by women, as of 2015. Women on average make up 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and around 50% in sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2010, only 15% of land in sub-Saharan Africa is owned by women. Females are more likely to be killed by natural disasters and/or are systematically killed more often than males. In Malawi, gender inequalities in agriculture cost USD $100 million. At the current rate of increase, gender parity in negotiations will only be reached by 2040.
The Gender Action Plan represents a landmark opportunity to improve the quality of life for women worldwide, as well as ensure their equal representation in climate policy and planning.
The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) is one of the nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Established in 2009, the WGC now consists of 27 women’s and environmental civil society organizations, who are working to ensure that women’s voices and their rights are embedded in all processes and results of the UNFCCC framework, for a sustainable and just future, so that gender equality and women’s human rights are central to the ongoing discussions. As the WGC represents the voices of hundreds and thousands of people across the globe, members of the Constituency are present at each UNFCCC meeting and intersessional alongside the UNFCCC Secretariat, governments, civil society observers and other stakeholders to ensure that women’s rights and gender justice are core elements of the UNFCCC. In this action the constituency is joined by other stakeholders committed to advancing women’s human rights, peace and climate justice.
Women and Gender Constituency Key Demands:
The 2018 World Interfaith Harmony Week is coming! World Interfaith Harmony Week is an official observance of the United Nations. It is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative, which in 2007 called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common religious Commandments: Love of God and Love of the Neighbor.
Prizes will be given to each of the three best events or texts organized during the week which best promote the goals of the WIHW. HM King Abdullah II of Jordan is the official sponsor of the World Interfaith Harmony Week Prizes. The prizes include flights and accomodation to Jordan where His Majesty King Abdullah II will present this year’s winners their awards for promoting world interfaith harmony.
- 1st Prize is $25,000 and a gold medal
- 2nd Prize is $15,000 and a silver medal
- 3rd Prize is $5,000 and a bronze medal
Watch last year’s first prize winning event by the Calgary Interfaith Council of Calgary, Canada:
How to Participate
View the WIHW website to find out more about how to participate.
The prize-giving ceremony will be held in Jordan. (Flights and accommodation will be provided.)
Submit a Letter of Support
Send a clear message that the overwhelming number of people from all faith traditions greatly support the call to harmony. Simply send a brief letter of support.
Last Year’s Winners
Via the Parliament of the World’s Religions:
(Bonn, November 10, 2017) Scores of religious leaders and people of diverse faiths and spiritualities on bicycles, some wearing traditional religious clothing, delivered a multi-faith statement to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23), pledging to adopt sustainable behaviors themselves and calling on their followers and world leaders to do the same. The delivery also marked the launch of a new international, multi-faith sustainable lifestyles initiative.
Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California was among faith leaders carrying the message to the UN meeting on bikes, symbolizing a commitment to sustainable transport. “By changing our own lifestyles, the lifestyles of our congregants, and the consumption habits of our congregations, we can help make good on our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” he says. “For us, it’s a way to state loudly and clearly: We’re still in.”
The COP23 Interfaith Climate Statement on Sustainable Lifestyle, entitled Walk Gently on Earth (Download Here), represents a shared assertion by religious leaders globally that widespread sustainable behavior change is required if global temperature rise is to meet the targets established by the Paris Climate Agreement.
We work with the Mining Working Group, which has published the Water Justice Guide, available online and now in hardcopy, as a People’s Guide to SDG 6. The SDGs can support advocacy of citizens and communities in pushing their governments towards human rights a human rights approach. The guide unpacks the issues in SDG 6 and concludes with ways to use the UN system, including engaging the human rights system, connecting with Special Rapporteurs, using reports to review a government’s efforts to date, and making statements in the Universal Periodic Review process. Local communities as well as international NGOs all have roles in holding governments accountable to their people and their international agreements.
Water for Sale
The MWG is sharing a new report by Maude Barlow released by the Council of Canadians about the impacts of free trade on water. “The report highlights the impacts decades of trade agreements have had on global freshwater supplies and on the human rights to water and sanitation. It warns of the dire consequences of a new generation of trade agreements and calls for a drastically different trade regime that would protect people and the environment.”
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has released a new report by Patricia A. Jones and Amber Moulton. “This report seeks to describe the real human impacts caused by the lack of universal access to safe, affordable water and sanitation in the United States and documents the responses to this challenge by activists from affected communities, civil society, governments, and service providers. It argues for a concerted effort at the national, state, local, and municipal level to study and remedy the crisis of unaffordable water in the United States.”
The Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest interfaith organizations in North America, stands with our many partners, the Parliament of World Religions, faith leaders of all traditions, corporations, universities and concerned citizens in condemning President’s Trump’s unconscionable action pulling out of the Paris Agreement. We will continue to work towards a sustainable future in our towns and cities regardless of the lack of support from our misinformed US government leadership.
In a recent sermon entitled “Defiant Hope,” Rev. Dr. Jim Antal of the United Church of Christ urged his listeners to speak up about climate issues:
Defiant hope believes that we are called by God to change what appears to be inevitable, and that God has given us everything we need to engage. […] So our first task is to end this silence. And it turns out that the biggest predictor of people’s willingness to take action to defend creation is whether they are in regular contact with others who believe and act like them. In other words, by breaking our silence and sharing our views and values with others, we will empower one another to take action.
And this is where church comes in. Looking back, slavery would not have ended if it hadn’t have been for church. And just as the church responded to God’s call over 200 years ago, God is calling the church of today to defend God’s gift of creation. Humanity will not make the changes science says we must unless the church becomes a center for conversation, discernment, support and action.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns in the strongest possible terms the President’s decision to renege on the commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by 195 nations and formally ratified by 147 nations.
The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective:
Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible.
Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future, sacrificing US jobs at almost every level of production and service, sacrificing American competitiveness in every market.
Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death.
Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.
Our condemnation of this decision is based on our conviction that the decision is wrong, but not just in the sense that it is incorrect. This decision is wrong in the sense that it is evil—it will result in devastation to life on Earth for generations to come. Its global consequences and impact on every living being on the planet makes it fundamentally immoral.
The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. […]
The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.
“Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are not only essential human rights, but are integrally linked to broader efforts to provide well-being and dignity to all people. I commend Member States for recognizing the right to water and to sanitation in the 2030 Agenda, and for adopting Sustainable Development Goal 6 to realize it.” –Jan Eliasson, Deputy UN Secretary General
We at the Temple of Understanding are inspired by Repairers of the Breach, who are nonpartisan and in the inclusive interfaith tradition of people of faith and no faith advancing a moral agenda:
“Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a “school of prophets” who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.” [www.breachrepairers.org]
“A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition. It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane. We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.” —Rev. Dr. William, J. Barber, II
Videos of the sessions of the New Poor People’s Campaign Teach-In are available online.
Part One | Why a Poor People’s Campaign?
Part Two | Voting Rights
Part Three | Race and Poverty Audit
Part Four | Poverty, Economic Inequality and Race
Part Five | Health Care
Part Six | Militarism and the Cost of War
Part Seven | Ecological Devastation and Climate Change
Gender justice is not lifted up as a separate part; we note that 8 of the 14 speakers are women.
The first few minutes of Rev. Barber preaching in this video are particularly inspiring and lead into a longer sermon.
Revival and Resiliency After Rejection | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
“All I wanted were five simple things: rice, beans, a horse, a goat, and a house,” Blain Snipstal, visionary Maryland farmer, social activist, and keynote speaker at the National Conference on Domestic Fair Trade, reflects. “And I’m now on a journey around the world to get those five simple things.”
Our agricultural system suffers from a loss of connection – from the food that we eat, from the land, from one another. The commoditization of food through industrial agriculture has fundamentally changed our relationships with both the harvest and the harvesters. And Snipstal, through what he calls “peasant farming,” is on a mission to change that.