Response To A Lakeview Bully

Yesterday at church I learned of an incident that happened earlier in the week that is nothing less than bullying. An individual placed handmade fliers making false accusations about Broadway United Methodist Church. In the flier, the bully suggests that people should let Alderman Tom Tunney know how they feel about what Broadway is doing in the community. This is what I wrote this morning:

Dear Alderman Tunney,

I am writing to offer a voice of support for the important work that Broadway United Methodist Church and other community organizations are doing to help homeless youth in Lakeview. I understand that this has become a point of controversy because people are misplacing blame for the recent spate of violence in the neighborhood on the presence of the youth who have nowhere to go. Individuals are responsible for this, so it is not right to blame an entire population of people.

Organizations like Center on Halsted, Night Ministry, and the Youth Lounge at Broadway United Methodist Church are critical to serving these youth who are struggling to survive. They are members of our community, and we have a responsibility to help them. Shutting down the social services that benefit them is not going to solve the problem of violence in our neighborhood. Indeed, I believe it might just contribute to the problem.

It would be a grave mistake for the leaders in the neighborhood to stop supporting these organizations. I hope that you don’t give in to the pressure of a vocal few who are filled with anger, fear, and hatred, and are simply looking for a scapegoat to place some blame for the ills in our community. The problem is larger than this, and requires solutions that are longer term and address its root.

Recently, an individual placed hand-made fliers on windshields in the Lakeview neighborhood that contained false accusations about Broadway United Methodist Church supporting drugs, prostitution, and violence in the neighborhood. Individual acts like this add fuel to the already burning fire of fear and hatred that is misdirected at the innocent people that Broadway UMC, The Center on Halsted, and the Night Ministry are trying to help. I hope that as a community we can have respectful public dialog. Acts like this do not facilitate that. I realize that people on all sides of this fight have contributed to the unhealthy dynamic. I hope that leaders like you will not respond to disrespectful rhetoric like this, but rather will lead the community in respectful civil discourse.

Don’t be distracted by hate and vitriol. And please don’t succumb to the pressure of those who seek to shut out the most vulnerable members of our community.

Respectfully,

Sarah Conner-Smith – Uptown resident, member of Broadway United Methodist Church

Hostages of Bigotry

I am truly disgusted by the latest moves by conservative churches to deny services to the homeless and hungry in order to protest gay civil rights ordinances by local governments.

The needs of the poor and homeless have nothing to do with the civil rights of the LGBT community. Yet these conservative churches have decided to express their displeasure over the legal protection of LGBT families by leveraging much-needed social services.

What this means is that these churches are going to refuse to serve a hot meal to a homeless family in Washington D.C. because they don’t want to respect Adam and Steve’s love and commitment to each other.

It’s a heartless political move, and they will one day be ashamed of themselves.  Right now, Christian charities that serve the hungry and homeless should be worried about filling the gap of those who are food insecure, making sure kids have enough to eat so that they can stay focused in school and learn more effectively. Instead, they are worried about their influence over local governments to continue the discrimination of LGBT people and families and deny their civil rights. It is seemingly more important to them to make a statement about homosexuality than it is to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless.

It strikes me that many conservative Christians resent being called bigots when they express their anti-gay sentiment. They claim to love gay people, but acts like this, withholding social services in the name of discrimination, this is not a loving act. It is an act of bald-faced bigotry.

I bet Jesus would overturn the tables in the temple.