Statement from Faith Leaders to Massachusetts Legislative Leaders and Members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight

We share this letter on our blog with the hope that faith leaders in your state might do the following. We must protect our right to speak out.

Statement from Faith Leaders to Massachusetts Legislative Leaders and Members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.  ~ Isaiah 1:17


As faith leaders in Massachusetts, we are committed to justice and the free exercise of conscience. This is a bedrock right. It animates our religious life as well as our understanding of American citizenship. It is our duty and our privilege, as Americans and as leaders in our faith communities, to protest S.1689/H.1685. Under the guise of fighting discrimination, these bills aim to penalize those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as a way to bring about change in Palestine/Israel, thus suppressing free speech.

The proposed bills are unnecessary, unconstitutional and burdensome.

Many of us are part of denominations and national faith organizations which have already divested from companies that profit from the Israeli military occupation. As a result, if this bill passed, our local organizations could be banned from receiving state contracts. 

The broad range of denominations and faith communities in the U.S. that have decided to engage in divestment or boycott — or support the right of those who do — is represented in the statements included in the packet submitted at the July 18 public hearing. These statements illustrate that as faith communities, we are committed to the principles of peace, international law, and human rights, as well as being attentive to the historical resonances of earlier boycott movements. Most of all, we are responsive to the call from the Palestinian churches to support BDS as the best hope for ending the 50-year occupation.

It is surprising that the State of Massachusetts, the cradle of revolution, would consider penalizing entities that engage in BDS. These are time-honored tactics of bringing about social change that many of us employed with great success in the South African anti-Apartheid movement, in the farmworkers movement, and in the civil rights movement. Many of our faith communities were in the vanguard of those peaceful justice movements. 

In calling for the right to engage in BDS without penalty, we join with more than 100 Massachusetts secular and faith-based organizations. These organizations have cited patterns of numerous and ongoing human rights abuses and the fundamental illegality of Israel’s military occupation – illegal per the Fourth Geneva Convention and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We hope that you will consult your own consciences and recognize that these bills are harmful to the citizens of Massachusetts and faith organizations that are morally compelled to engage in BDS. We urge you to unequivocally oppose S.1689/H.1685 and not pass it out of committee.

In Faith,

§  Christina Abbey, convenor, Pax Christi Boston

§  Rabbi Leora Abelson, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, Boston

§  The Rev. John Allen, Minister, First Congregational Church of Milton

§  The Rev. Joseph Amico, Pastor, Tabernacle Congregational Church, UCC, Salem

§  Aisha Ansano, M.Div., ministerial intern, First Church Boston (Unitarian Universalist)

§  The Rev. Jim Antal, Conference Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ

§  The Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian, United Church of Christ Minister; Director, Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, Holyoke

§  The Rev. Anne Bancroft, Minister, Theodore Parker Unitarian Church, West Roxbury

§  The Rev. Jeffrey Barz-Snell, Pastor, First Church in Salem (Unitarian Universalist)

§  The Rev. Thomas L. Bentley, Pastor, Trinity Congregational Church UCC, Gloucester; Executive Director, Grace Center, Inc., Gloucester

§  The Rev. Dr. Constance Bickford, East Dennis, UCC retired clergy

§  Michael Boover, Member of Annunciation House of Worcester, Catholic Worker at the Mustard Seed House of Hospitality, Worcester

§  The Rev. Tricia Brennan, Interim Minister, First Parish Dorchester, Unitarian Universalist

§  Elaine Brouillard, West Hyannisport, Board member, Tree of Life Educational Fund

§  The Rev. Mark Brown, Episcopal priest, Cambridge

§  The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Mass. Conference

§  The Rev. Christine Burns, Associate Pastor, West Parish of Barnstable, UCC

§  Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Christian Ethics, Department of Theology, Boston College

§  Ken Campbell, Chair, Nauset Interfaith Association, Cape Cod

§  The Rev. Bradford D. Clark, Rector, Ascension Memorial Episcopal Church, Ipswich

§  The Rev. Heather Concannon, Minister of Faith Formation, Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn

§  The Rev. Jill Cowie, Minister, Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church

§  Carolyn Corzine, Chair, Social Justice Committee, Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead

§  The Rev. Lilia Cuervo, Unitarian Universalist Minister-at-Large, Medford

§  The Rev. Anne Deneen, Pastor, Paul Lutheran Church, Gloucester

§  Ghanda DiFiglia, Clerk, Peace and Social Justice Concerns Committee, Friends Meeting at Cambridge

§  The Rev. Stanley Duncan, Pastor, Quincy Point Congregational Church, Quincy

§  Bo Fauth, Belmont, a founding member of Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship; co-chair, Friends of Sabeel North America in New England

§  The Rev. Patricia A. Miller Fernandes, Pastor, Epworth United Methodist Church, Worcester

§  Deborah Ferrenz, Co-chair, Social Action Committee, Theodore Parker Unitarian Church, West Roxbury

§  Patricia Ferrone, Chair, Pax Christi Massachusetts; Chair, Peace and Justice Committee, St. Susanna’s Parish, Dedham

§  The Rev. Paul Robeson Ford, Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church, Cambidge

§  The Rev. Ann H. Franklin, retired rector, Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal), Watertown; volunteer ecumenical ministry in Jerusalem; co-leader of educational tours to Israel-Palestine

§  Rena Mae Gagnon, pfm, Chairperson for the Social Justice & Peace Committee at Our Lady of Providence Parish, Worcester

§  The Rev. Ralph Galen, M.Div., Affiliate Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Wakefield

§  Jeanne Gallo, Ph.D., Gloucester, Social Ethicist and Human Rights Educator

§  The Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Pastor, Matthew’s United Methodist Church, Acton

§  Joseph Gerson, PhD, Director of Programs, American Friends Service Committee, Northeast Region

§  The Rev. John Gibbons, Senior Minister, First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist

§  The Rev. Rebecca Girrell, Chair, Board of Church and Society, New England Conference of the United Methodist Church

§  Alison Gottleib, Co-chair, Social Action Committee, Theodore Parker Unitarian Church, West Roxbury

§  The Rev. Clyde Grubbs, Minister at Large, Creative Ministries, Quincy

§  The Rev. Mark W. Harris, Minister, First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist

§  The Rev. Ruth Harvey, American Baptist Minister and Retired Pastor, Cambridge

§  The Rev. Cara B. Hochhalter, UCC Minister, Charlemont Federated Church

§  The Rev. M. Lara Hoke, Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover

§  The Rev. Christian Holleck, co-pastor, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Harwich

§  The Rev. Tiffany Nicely Holleck, Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor servingPeter’s Lutheran Church, Harwich

§  The Rev. Sarah Hubbell, UCC Pastor, Sudbury

§  Philip Jacobs, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Diocese of Massachusetts

§  Munir Jirmanus, Presbyterian Elder, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville; Member, Sabeel

§  The Rev. Robert Johansen, Lancaster, UCC clergy

§  The Rev. Vicki Kemper, Pastor, First Congregational Church of Amherst, UCC

§  The Rev. Patricia Budd Kepler, member-at-large, Presbytery of Boston

§  The Rev. Thomas F. Kepler, Minister, Presbytery of Boston

§  Alice E. Kidder, Co-chair, Missions and Social Justice Committee, First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC

§  David E. Kidder, Vice Moderator, First Church in Cambridge, CongregationalUCC

§  Rabbi Andrea Cohen Kiener, Temple Israel, Greenfield

§  The Rev. Hall Kirkham, Rector, St. Michael’s Church in Milton

§  Maria LaBollita, SC, President and Co-Founder, Sacred Threads, Newton

§  The Rev. Kenneth C. Landall, Harwich, UCC retired clergy

§  Janice P. Leary, Natick, M.Div., Andover-Newton Theological School; co-founder, New England Network for Justice for Palestine

§  The Rev. Peter Lovett, Pastor, Christ Church United, Lowell

§  Eleanor Maclellan, Cambridge, member of Agape Mission Council

§  Sue Malone, Board member and former Chair, Pax Christi Massachusetts

§  Sally Markey, Board member, Pax Christi Massachusetts

§  The Rev. Geisa Y. Matos-Machuca, United Methodist Church, MDiv. Boston University

§  The Rev. Amy McCreath, Rector, Church of the Good Shepherd, (Episcopal), Watertown MA

§  The Rev. Art McDonald, Ph.D., Salem, retired Unitarian Universalist minister

§  The Rev. Ian Mevorach, Minister and co-founder, Common Street Spiritual Center, Natick

§  The Rev. Dori Midnight, interfaith minister, Northampton

§  The Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, affiliated community minister, First ParishDorchester (Unitarian Universalist)

§  The Rev. Susan Moran, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport

§  The Rev. Gregory Morisse, Senior Pastor, The Plymouth Church in Framingham, UCC

§  The Rev. Nicholas M. Morris-Kliment, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Needham

§  The Rev. Susan J. Morrison, United Methodist clergy, Marblehead

§  The Rev. Stephen Mott, New England Annual Conference, United Methodist Church; Living Faith United Methodist Church, Beverly, retired

§  The Rev. Phyllis B. O’Connell, Brookline, retired Unitarian Universalist minister

§  Judith Oleson, MSW, MPA, DMin., Co-director, Religion and Conflict Transformation Program, Boston University School of Theology

§  Joanna Olivetti, M.Div., Youth Ministry Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish, Sherborn

§  The Rev. Julie G. Olmsted, Pastor, Trinitarian Congregational Church, Northfield

§  David Payne, Director of Religious Education and Outreach, Unitarian Universalist Church, Harvard

§  The Rev. Sarah Pirtle, Interfaith Minister and Youth Educator, Ashfield Congregational Church

§  Joseph Pompei, Co-chair, Peace and Justice Committee, First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist

§  Brown Pulliam, Co-chair, Peace and Justice Committee, First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist

§  The Rev. John W. Roberts, Cambridge, retired Presbyterian minister

§  Willard Robinson, member of Committee on Church and Society of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, Andover

§  The Rev. Renate Rose, UCC minister, Cambridge; retired teacher of New Testament and Worship at Sillman University Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary, the Phillipines

§  The Rev. Marilyn R. Rossier, UCC Pastor, retired, First Congregational Church in Lee

§  Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, founding member of The Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker community in Worcester

§  Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, founding member of The Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker community in Worcester

§  Carrie Schuchardt, co-founder, House of Peace, Ipswich

§  John Schuchardt, co-founder, House of Peace, Ipswich

§  The Rev. Dr. Gary R. Shahinian, Pastor, Park Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Worcester

§  Suhaib M Siddiqi, Burlington, Former President American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin

§  Marian Smith, Deacon, First Church in Cambridge, UCC

§  The Very Rev. John P. Streit, Jr., retired dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston (Episcopal)

§  The Rev. Herb Taylor, Pastor, Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church, Cambridge

§  The Rev. Bruce Teague, C. priest, Cambridge

§  Maurine Tobin, long-term volunteer, Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem; co-leader of 23 educational tours to Israel/Palestine

§  The Rev. Robert Tobin, retired rector, Christ Church, Cambridge; long-term volunteer, Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem; co-leader of 23 educational tours to Israel/Palestine

§  The Rev. Dr. Wendy von Courter,  Pastor, Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead

§  Rabbi Brian Walt, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council

§  The Rev. Lisa Ward, Minister, First Parish in Milton, Unitarian Universalist

§  The Rev. Charles L. Wildman, Osterville, retired United Church of Christ pastor

§  The Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, Pastor, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain

§  Sofia Wolman, Member of AFSC New England Regional Executive Committee; Clerk of AFSC Peace & Economic Security Program; Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School

§  The Rev. Diane C. Wong, Rector, John’s Episcopal Church, Arlington

§  The Rev. Cynthia Worthington-Berry, Pastor, UCC Congregational of Boxborough