RSS

Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

Civil Rights

Black college student Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waits at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came, April 4, 1963. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. (AP Photo) From The Atlantic

This chilling photo records the racism that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks (amongst many others) were fighting against in the USA.  It is from a series entitled: 50 Years Ago: The World in 1963.

We were not so different in Australia.  In Queensland, South Sea Islanders were blackbirded (perhaps ‘kidnapping’ and ‘press-ganged’ will be understood by more people) into enforced labour in the Qld canefields during the mid to late 19th Century.  They were repatriated in 1906-08 by the Australian government.  Ref: Wikipedia.  It was slavery by another name.   Australians grew wealthy on enforced labour and on stolen land from Aboriginal people.

It’s always interesting to note the religious justifications for racism and slavery, and any injustice.  Women’s marginalisation is no different.

Those of us who work with gifted women, who have sat under the scholarship of women theologians and who have experienced the pastoral care of female chaplains and pastors, are dismayed at the continuing dismissal of women’s ordination in the LCA.  It is every woman’s civil right to be given the same respect as men.  It is difficult to believe that 50 years after the US civil rights movement, and 45 years after Aborigines were granted full Federal citizenship, that LCA women are still deemed lacking for ordained ministry.

What is it that you might do to raise awareness of the lack of recognition of women in the LCA?

Please leave your comment and suggest what people might do to bring about change.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in history, women's ordination

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Standing before the forces of power in Alabama

“They told us we wouldn’t get here, there were those who said we would only get here over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in Alabama saying ‘We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!’” – Martin Luther King Jr, Selma to Montgomery, March 1965.

I will never know the names of the people who marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr King and chances are you won’t either.  Nor are you likely to know the names of the people who walked with Gandhi on the Salt March, yet our history and imaginations are caught by the thought of hundreds of ordinary people going to (and walking for) extraordinary lengths to fight for justice.  No matter what came, nothing would move these people, and nobody could turn them around.  Reference

We lose track of how difficult it is to bring about  change.  People understood that civil rights may actually cost them their lives.

Gordon Gibson knew the civil rights movement in the 1960s was serious when a friend said not to leave for Selma unless it was more important for him to go than it was to come back.

“I decided it was more important to go to Alabama, and we wrote our wills,” Gibson said.

He was 26 years old.  Reference

Australia had it’s own Freedom Ride in 1965.  It exposed endemic racism in rural Australia and “punctured Australian smugness, borne of ignorance, that racism did not exist in Australia.” (ref)  While the move towards the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal equality had started shortly after Federation  in 1901, the Freedom Ride must have helped people understand that racism was entrenched, not just in country towns of NSW, but in the Australian Constitution as well.  There was resistance over decades, much of it vitriolic, and some resistance continues today for racism cannot be legislated away.

Change doesn’t come easily, for it threatens some people’s way of being.  It is difficult for some to imagine how they will function under the innovation and so it becomes important to resist, despite understanding why it is important for many.  That resistance is justified by a lifetime of living in a different paradigm.  “It is my experience, don’t take it from me!” When change does come, the new reality is rarely as confronting as was expected.

The road towards women’s ordination has been difficult.  Through hope and despair starting in the 1990s, and now through a growing voice protesting the silencing of debate on women’s ordination, there is an ever-increasing hope that the LCA will yet see women’s ordination.

The difference between civil rights and women’s ordination in the LCA is that while both the US and Australia are democracies and function under freedom of the press, the LCA on this matter, does not.  While Pr Semmler communicates freely with membership when he wishes, the women’s ordination movement cannot even pay for an advertisement in the national magazine.  Repressive regimes use this tactic throughout the world to maintain control on power through controlling communication and the national discussion. As this contravenes the LCA Constitution Pr Semmler needs to be censured.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Speaking from experience

Sophia escapes – by the naked pastor

We quote a senior pastor of the church.  He responds to a number of issues raised.

Those supporting women’s ordination have been accused of impatience, that their protests have been untimely and that they should wait for the process to play itself out.  Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebhuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that equality is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in any action that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from lack of equality. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of women with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see,  that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

I had also hoped that those between the poles of the debate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for women’s ordination. I have just received a letter saying, “All Lutherans know that the Church will ordain women eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.  Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of equality and transform our pending LCA elegy into a creative psalm of gender equality. Now is the time to lift our Church policy from the quicksand of gender injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

I have talked to several people who have said that they believe women should be ordained. However, they don’t want to fight the issue because it’s merely a distraction and there are more pressing matters such as saving the lost. Others say they don’t want to risk offending Lutherans in other parts of the world. Even others add that we should let the consensus process play itself out. They always end with their belief that the church will eventually ordain women so let’s just not worry about it now.

You will see certain church leaders trying to paint those, who wish for women’s ordination to happen now, as taking an extreme position that is out of harmony with the rest of Lutheranism. However, though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?  Perhaps the LCA is in dire need of creative extremists.

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of many, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for this century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than equality, I beg God to forgive me.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: