Subject: NCC Newsletter: The Unvaccinated, Lebanon, and H.R. 40

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The Unvaccinated, Lebanon, and H.R. 40 
NCC Newsletter
July 9, 2021
Stay Alert  
I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced we are completely in the clear concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only are variants sweeping across the US, but we continue to face significant and disturbing resistance by many to receiving the vaccine. This, despite the fact that most who fall victim to the virus are unvaccinated.

For example, during the month of June in the state of Maryland every one of the more than 100 people who died from the virus were unvaccinated and 93% of those who were hospitalized because of the coronavirus had not been inoculated. These figures are similar to the rest of the nation.

Meanwhile, a great many nations around the world still do not have access to the vaccine. No one in Haiti has received the shot. More than 400,000 have died because of the virus in India. While Americans are traveling and going to parties and resuming normal life, billions of people are living under lockdowns or in fear. I believe it is quite possible that a variant will emerge that is resistant to the vaccines that have so far been very effective, but I sure hope I’m wrong.

Too many people continue to deny the reality of the pandemic or mistakenly believe they will not get sick. Another form of denial that grips a significant portion of our populace are those who believe Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election. My guess is there is some overlap between these twin denials.

The dreadful events of January 6 have been portrayed as a “Christian revolt”, although I think it is more accurate to say it was a Christian nationalist revolt. While precise statistics are difficult to come by, those Christians involved on that sad day seem to be part of fringe, extremist elements.

Now, we find ourselves in a situation where a significant number of people see the rioters as patriots and where former president Trump and Congressman Mo Brooks say they cannot be prosecuted for encouraging the rioters because they were acting as federal employees.

All this to say, we are still in the midst of two gigantic crises: a worldwide public health crisis and a governance crisis. Now is not the time to let our guard down. At this time, I think of 1 Peter 5:8: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” 

Grace and peace,

Faith for H.R. 40 Rally
Over the past 400+ years, the Black community in the United States has suffered countless harms as result of our country’s legacy of enslavement and systemic racism. As people of faith, we believe it our spiritual call to protect the inherent sacred worth and dignity of all people and seek redress when injustice is committed. Congress has an opportunity to swiftly pass H.R. 40—Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act—as a first step in redressing centuries of injustice against Black people in the United States.

Join us as faith leaders from various traditions call on Congress to pass H.R.40, a bill to study the legacy of slavery, its ongoing harms, and produce proposals for repair. Congress can make history by bringing this critical piece of legislation to the House floor. Join us either in person or online as we tell legislators that Justice Can't Wait!

WHEN: JULY 13th from 10:00 am to 11:00 am ET

WHERE: United Methodist Building front steps, 100 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 or live on NCC's YouTube or Facebook channels.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: Church World Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Presbyterian Church (USA), Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, United Church of Christ, and Washington Interfaith Staff Community.

Use hashtags: #HR40totheFLOOR #ReparationsNOW

Watch the Latest Episode of Faith & Fire 2.0
The Faith & Fire 2.0 Conversation on White Christian Nationalism continued on July 7, 2021 with panelists: Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, President and CEO of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute; Ms. Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of Baptist Joint Committee; and Rev. Dexter Udell Nutall, Sr. Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, Washington, DC. Moderators: Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., Associate General Secretary, Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace, and Minister Christian S. Watkins, Justice Advocacy and Outreach Manager.

"Do we have too much personal faith?" Watch as they discuss Jesus and justice, while cautioning against "over spiritualizing" justice. 
Shining a Light on the Catastrophe in Lebanon
Through the World Council of Churches’ programming, the NCC is in regular contact with the Middle East Council of Churches. This week NCC staff learned firsthand about the dire situation in Lebanon, particularly in Beirut where the explosion at the port last August leveled entire neighborhoods of the city. The economic crisis is extreme. There is no food, no medicines, no supplies for surgery, no supplies for babies, and no fuel for cars to get to work. With regular power outages, connections with the outside world are difficult and the country is on the verge of a total failure of its electrical system.

In this week’s newsletter, the Middle East Council of Churches shared that Lebanon is “still in the ‘deliberate depression’ phase whereby there is no signs of relief. Lebanon, the heart of the Middle East, is sinking and many of its rulers seem content to watch such a spectacle. If international actors do not intervene on a deeper and impartial scale, Lebanon sinking deeper into its problems will have profound socioeconomic and security effects on the whole region.”

A recent New York Times article described the situation in Lebanon as the worst financial crisis since the mid-1800’s and reported that the value of their currency has plummeted by 90%. Meanwhile, the World Bank has called Lebanon’s crisis “one of worst depressions of modern history as half of population lives in poverty.”

As limited media attention has been given to this crisis, US churches can fill the void by creating awareness of the situation. We pray that world leaders will bring relief to the people of Lebanon so that their intense suffering is alleviated. 
The Continued COVID-19 Pandemic Response Includes Direct Church Action
During its weekly Faith and Community Engagement Call this Thursday, the White House emphasized that churches still have a role to play in vaccinating America against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Month of Action has ended but religious organizations are still encouraged to set up vaccine clinics in partnership with pharmacies, especially in areas where people are still not vaccinated, or take action to encourage vaccinations with Made To Save. 

As faith leaders are asking where vaccination clinics are still needed, we learned from the White House yesterday that "The COVID-19 surge response teams have begun working with several states to identify and support the state-specific or county-specific needs. This includes states such as Missouri, Nevada, Illinois, and Arkansas. These efforts include providing expert support from the CDC on outbreak investigations; working with local health officials on getting more treatments for people with COVID; and helping states increase vaccine confidence, answer questions, and expand access to vaccinations and testing."

During this week's Faiths4Vaccines meeting, all religious institutions were strongly encouraged to encourage vaccinations at all upcoming annual meetings or conventions, especially those that include youth gatherings.
From our Partners:
Job Listings

Legislative Coordinator for National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd - The position will advocate on social justice issues at the national level with a focus on issues that primarily impact women, children and families. These issues include poverty, immigration, human trafficking, and concerns identified by Good Shepherd agencies serving people in need and on the margin of society. See the job description here

Racial Equity Education and Advocacy Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee - The position leads MCC’s church education efforts in the U.S. to address systemic injustices due to racism and colonialism, and advocacy for reforms to the criminal legal system. Education efforts involve teaching MCC’s constituency about systemic racism and the Doctrine of Discovery by working with MCC regional staff and external partners to create resources, conduct local trainings and build capacity for training. The work should promote mutuality through biblical reflection and practices which undo the legacy of racism and colonialism in response to our Christian calling to free the oppressed and more fully reflect God’s vision for the world. See the job description here


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