Masks for the People
Pastor Mike was recently interviewed by the Associated Press about Masks for the People, and the importance of prioritizing marginalized communities for protection against contracting the coronavirus. “Our effort is a wonderful expression of what it means to be faithful to the whole of the teachings of Jesus, and not just ones that fit a very narrow political, racial demographic,” he shared. “Faith leaders are doing this and working through our existing network of congregations who have proximity to those who are largely left out of preventive and responsive health care in a pandemic. For us, it’s an act of survival. It’s not an act of altruism.” This article was picked up by more than 50 news outlets nationwide and also mentioned the efforts of our northeastern federations and the letter they sent their governors, demanding a re-open plan that includes a racially equitable component. Click here to read more.
Pastor Mike and W. Kamau Bell are continuing their discussion about Masks for the People in a weekly video chat that is broadcast on Facebook Live every Monday. The campaign still needs your support to create the necessary kits to distribute to the public in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Click here to donate, and click here to read the full article.
Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri helped lead efforts in getting new payday lending regulations approved by the Springfield City Council last week. These regulations mandate that payday lending facilities must post a sign that lays out how the short term lending process works, including disclosing interest rates and annual percentage rates. "It's great news to hear that the city council passed the ordinance — not just passed it, but unanimously passed it," Mark Struckhoff with Faith Voices said to the Springfield News-Leader. "I think that will send a strong message to our community when it comes for a vote." Click here to read more. In an interview with OzarksFirst.com, Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri organizer Susan Schmalzbauer said this move was an important first step. “So part of this ordinance requires the lenders to post in language that folks can understand what is the true cost of the loan. You know this is about exploiting people, exploiting folks that backs are against the wall.” Click here to read more
Faith in Action Alabama (FIAAL) spoke with Governor Kay Ivey last week to discuss the additional support needed for the African American community in the wake of COVID-19. Among the needs FIAAL is addressing, they are calling on the governor to increase testing in rural areas and state prisons and release incarcerated persons in county jails who do not pose an immediate threat. “Our churches are often in the centers of those communities and provide easy access to anyone who might want to be tested," said Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton to NBC Birmingham. “We are advocates for social distancing and advocates for a safe return to group gatherings, like church gatherings and other such things, because if we don’t slow the spread of infection, obviously we are going to repeat the cycle.” Click here to watch
Valley Public Radio spoke with Faith in the Valley’s Ariana Martinez about how they are reaching populations to discuss the Census in the wake of the coronavirus. “...working with local churches in their online messaging has helped gain the trust of older Latinx community members. So we’re trying to figure out how we can support them in ensuring that they can also give a message around the importance of the census and how that connects to our faith, and how that connects to this higher calling of caring for one another,” Martinez said. “We work with a lot of churches that are doing food ministry so [we’re] trying to figure out how to ensure they have the resources to let the folks know about the importance of filling out the census.” Click here to read more.
ABC Fort Wayne interviewed Faith in Indiana leader Audrey Davis about the Fort Wayne Public Safety Academy becoming a site for people to be tested for the coronavirus, on select days through the end of the month. The Allen County chapter has been putting pressure on local lawmakers to establish more testing, especially in neighborhoods where people are at a higher risk of exposure. "We know that the work is not done, but that this is a step to ensure health access to communities too often not prioritized — as families make the decisions around resuming work, they deserve the right of knowing if they are sick or not." Click here to read more.
Prior to this decision, the chapter held a virtual town hall, where leaders and city and county elected officials came together to push for increased access to coronavirus tests for people of color. "Hoosiers – no matter our race, religion or ZIP code – care deeply about our families," said Conda Ridley of Faith in Allen County, to the Journal Gazette. "We've seen health care workers, public school employees, grocery store workers and more step up during this crisis and keep us safe. Now let's make sure our elected officials step up for them and prioritize a no-cost testing site on the southeast side." Click here to read more.
And, the decarceration work of Ohio Organizing Collaborative was recognized in The New York Times, in an op-ed written by Michelle Alexander: “Last month, the Ohio Prisoners Justice League and Ohio Organizing Collaborative demanded that Gov. Mike DeWine release 20,000 prisoners, about 40 percent of those in state custody, by the end of May. That number would encompass those whose sentences are nearly complete, those imprisoned for “nonviolent” offenses, elderly people and those with health problems that render them especially vulnerable to infection." Click here to read the full article.
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In appreciation and solidarity,
The LIVE FREE Team