700 Pledge Multi-Faith Solidarity for Human Rights in San Diego County

April 21, 2017

  • Leaders rally community at Faith Not Fear Summit to fight racism with local action teams
  • San Diego Organizing Project's inaugural Faith Not Fear Summit became a beacon of hope and a call to action in solidarity with the region's most marginalized community members. 700 people packed the pews and lined the aisles of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Barrio Logan as Father John Auther, SJ read a litany of community fears and the lights dimmed.

    "I am afraid of losing my healthcare."

    Strangers of every faith, heritage and race sat together in the darkness.

    "I am afraid when my son goes out, he will be labeled as a gang member."

    Guests extended their hands toward the aisle, each holding a small white candle.

    "I am afraid that my daughter will be bullied for wearing her headscarf."

    Clergy walked the aisles to share a flame with outstretched hands.

    "I am afraid that my family is not welcome in this country anymore."

    Inside the church, hundreds of flickering lights illuminated a sea of people ready to remind a divisive world of our shared humanity. Empowered guests pledged themselves to local action teams that will prioritize the following:

    • Safe neighborhoods and positive, collaborative relationships between our communities and our police
    • A reformed criminal justice system that no longer disproportionally imprisons people of color
    • Quality education for all students, with enriching before- and after-school programs
    • Living wages to provide for our families
    • Affordable housing, combating homelessness and protecting tenants' rights
    • Quality healthcare as a basic human right
    • Legal permanent residency for undocumented families, so they can participate in our shared prosperity

    "We believe that faith is stronger than fear. We believe that hope is more powerful than hate. We are here to send a message to those who would divide us. Our faith is stronger than your division," said Bishop Cornelius Bowser. "We will stand in the breach and lock arms in the name of all our faiths. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers and we pledge tonight to work together across all divides."

    For two hours, some of San Diego's most renowned faith leaders spoke to a crowd of community members, elected officials, police and parishioners about working together as one people to put families first, to remember that faith can overcome fear, and to remind guests that no one stands alone.

    "There are no children of a lesser God in this world, and we must stop acting as if there are," said Bishop Robert McElroy.

    With 700 new pledges to take action, San Diego Organizing Project plans to commission grassroots teams to address social injustices in San Diego. According to the local organization representing more than 31 congregations and 70,000 families in San Diego County, these actions range from joining a solidarity team to support families affected by mass deportation to participating in a "weekly act of disruption" and receiving text alerts for calls to action.