RI State Council of Churches
January 24, 2012
Rev. Betsy was quoted widely in the media following a press conference by religious leaders calling for civility and tolerance in Cranston over the "Prayer Banner." Here is what she said in its entirety:
A banner hangs,
Crafted by students decades ago
Calling for kindness, friendship, moral conduct.
Framed as a prayer to a Christian God,
A cloth of the past, faded, forgotten,
An artifact of the way we wished things were.
The earth turns.
Society becomes more pluralistic and diverse.
"We are here, too!" claim people of many faiths - and
of no faith.
A student notices.
America is a land of many religions and freedom of
Dare we say freedom from religion?
Crucify her! Crucify her!
Cry those who fear the future and hold on to the past.
The closed-minded, the bullies, those who love to hate.
I am Jessica Ahlquist - and you, and you, and, yes,
Today, we are all Jessica Ahlquist. Who has never
been teased or threatened or beaten
Because we are fat or schizophrenic or gay,
Because of our accent or the color of our skin,
Because of the pew we sit in or the creed we recite?
A pastor laments.
Is not the ultimate test of faith how we treat each other?
How we love each other?
Must we always kill the prophets and stone to death
those sent to us? (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)
Let those of us in leadership - pastors, parents, and
public figures -
Be grounded in sacred texts that call for compassion,
goodness, and wisdom,
that "a little child shall lead them..." (Isaiah 11:6)