Friday, April 16, 2010

CFE's Rev. Canon Susan Russell takes on Tea Party Tantrums

April 15, 2010
Pasadena, CA.

Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer
for the Pasadena Star News interviews the Rev. Canon Susan Russell, CFE and "A Moral Compass to Justice"spokesperson at press conference.

From the article in Pasadena Star News, April 16, 2010

The competing faith-based group [A moral Compass to Justice], which included Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders opposing the tea party movement, gathered at All Saints Church earlier in the day and decried racism and discrimination. They also called for an end to "violent speech and actions" they say are fostered by the tea party movement.

"We want to model American values that don't have anything to do with polarization and marginalization but have to do with liberty and justice for all," said Rev. Susan Russell, a senior associate at All Saint's Church, at a press conference Thursday.

The new interfaith initiative expects to tackle a number of key social issues, including hate crimes, poverty, education, prison reform and marriage equality, Russell said.

The group's speakers launched a scathing attack on the tea party movement, accusing at least some of its supporters of an unwillingness to accept the country's diverse range of faiths, ethnicities and cultures.

"The rhetoric of hatred, racism and discrimination being espoused by the current Tea Party Movement and the silence of many elected officials, is sadly reminiscent of an era of American history that is a blemish as it pertains to justice, that is a wound as it pertains to respect and equality," said Rev. Eric P. Lee, the California President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, during Thursday's press conference.

Last month, reports surfaced that some tea party activists outside Capitol Hill rally had shouted racial slurs at members of the Congressional Black Caucus during protests over the proposed health care bill,and that one of them, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) has been spat on by a protestor.

Another representative, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is openly gay, was reportedly called a derogatory term that referenced his sexual orientation.

An organizer of the tea party rally condemned the racial slurs as "disgraceful", telling Fox News that it was an isolated incident. They were also condemned by Republican National Chairman Michael Steele.

But leaders of the new interfaith initiative say more needs to be done.

"If you really are opposed to racism, then end it with your followers," Russell said of the tea party leadership. "Challenge those signs in your audience. Speak truth to your followers and bring them around to the values you say you are in favor of."


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