No One Is Free Until All Are Free

In response to recent questions about why ReconcilingWorks speaks out on matters of race—as well as on other issues, such as immigration, social class, culture, and global LGBT concerns—we point to ReconcilingWorks’ mission statement. We look to our mission as it informs and clarifies our inclusion of issues of racism as they occur alongside and overlap with LGBT issues:

“Working at the intersection of oppressions, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation embodies, inspires, advocates, and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners.”

ReconcilingWorks, in our efforts to create safe space for LGBT people to worship and thrive in community, must focus on the root issues of injustice, inequality, and the violation of the core Christian belief that all life is sacred. Ending homo/bi/trans*phobia and heterosexism requires that we also dismantle racism in the world and in our hearts.

ReconcilingWorks proceeds from the Lutheran Christian idea that we are all called to care for neighbor and stranger alike. Scriptures call for hospitality and care in order to live up to the expectations of the 8th commandment not to bear false witness against our neighbor.

As a pastor married to my female spouse (after 20 years together), who has worked to reform church and societal policies that exclude LGBT people from life giving community, I am convinced that the oppression of any neighbor is part of the oppression I have experienced as a lesbian woman. We are compelled to address matters of injustice, brutality, dehumanization of others, whatever their skin color, culture of origin, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Systemic racism ultimately affects the way LGBT people are treated, too. Whatever skin we live in, whatever orientation or identity we claim, we can stand in solidarity with one another. We can change systems borne in unexamined racism and make sure young black and brown men, women, and children can live free from policy terror and violence, mass incarceration, criminalization, marginalization, and murder by a corrupt system of injustice that cripples the human right to live as valued children of God.

God loves each of us just as we are created. Jesus taught us to pray. In the Lord’s prayer, we ask God to: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Our request calls us to compassion and action so that all might be free of the “isms” that continue to oppress. No one is free until all are free.

Pastor Anita C. Hill, Deputy Director, ReconcilingWorks