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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

With all of the recent discussion of the protests and riots following George Floyd's murder I thought it was worth remembering that this conversation has occurred before. Many objected to the tactics used by the Civil Rights movement with the same arguments and criticism that we hear today. I think they ring as hollow now as they did then. I think we could do well to read MLK's words and reflect on whether we want to be embracing the arguments that were so eloquently criticized here.
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
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The Comprehensive Case for Joe Biden

I originally wrote this prior to the Iowa Caucus to help me decide between two candidates. I wanted to do a series focusing solely on the positive, qualifying attributes of each person and there was no better place to begin than the long-time frontrunner, Vice President Joe Biden. The recent revival of his campaign along with endorsements from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and former Representative Beto O’Rourke have brought a lot of new people into the fold and I thought it would be good for everyone to get to know Joe better. With his long career of public service and many accomplishments, it would be an act of futility to document it piece by piece, and hope my words end before people’s attention span, so I wanted to focus on the larger trends with every stop Biden made.
Biden began his career as a Public Defender in the Delaware public defender’s office. He reportedly gave up more lucrative opportunities for humble beginnings, but he never regretted it, having already done a stint at a prominent law firm where he sympathized with the opposing plaintiff, a welder who was injured on the job. The experience soured him on the idea of private practice and drew him to protecting the little guy. One longtime NAACP activist in Delaware described his tenure as, “[Biden] would take the case for black folks, for poor whites. He was a hero to the black community when it came to the public defender.”
He next won a race to a seat on Delaware’s New Castle County Council where most of his public record began, including controversial statements on student busing that have dominated news coverage of his time here. Less covered has been his experience connecting with his black constituents and fighting for issues that affected them the most. Biden supported a bill that would have banned the practice of redlining and he championed public housing that was widely opposed by his white constituents
After dislodging long-time Republican Senator, Caleb Boggs, when Biden was given no chance of winning, on a platform of ending the Vietnam War, protecting the environment, civil rights, and change, tragedy struck. While Christmas Shopping, his wife’s car was struck by a truck, killing her and Biden’s infant daughter. Instead of spending Christmas at home with his family, Biden was at the hospital mourning his dead wife and infant daughter, and watching over his two young sons who were injured in the crash. Biden thought about resigning right there, but instead chose to make the two hour Amtrak journey back home to Delaware every night to make sure his sons would never lack for time with him.
Once in the Senate, many of Biden’s first attempts at Bills and Amendments were focused on consumer protection, public infrastructure, and environmental protection. These included:
S.3838 - Debt Collection Practices Act which prohibits debt collectors from harassing or intimidating consumers in connection with the collection or attempted collection of any alleged debt arising from a consumer credit transaction.
S.1961 - Consumer Leasing Act which assures a meaningful disclosure of the terms of leases of personal property so as to enable the lessee to compare more readily the various lease and credit terms available to him, to limit balloon payments, and to assure meaningful and accurate disclosures of lease terms in advertisements.
S.2908 - A bill to establish a mass transportation trust fund and to amend the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 in order to assure adequate local transportation service.
S.3791 - A bill to amend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 in order to assist industry and employees in complying with environmental protection programs.
S.1927 - Equal Credit Opportunity Act Amendments. Prohibits creditors from discriminating against consumer applicants for credit on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, national origin, political affiliation, receipt of public assistance benefits, or the exercise of rights under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act or any other provision of law. Requires creditors to give each consumer applicant a statement of reasons for credit denial or termination.
S.2883 - Fair Credit Reporting Act Amendments. Provides that if an investigative consumer report contains information which may be adverse to the consumer to whom it relates, a consumer reporting agency may not furnish that report to any third party for employment purposes.
Biden soon turned his focus to Foreign Affairs where he carved out a reputation as someone who had faith in diplomacy and de-escalation, but was prepared to defend the peace with American force if necessary. Much of his early career was dedicated to Arms Control including pressuring the Reagan Administration to adhere to the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Soviet Union and decrease the number of nuclear warheads. He followed up with being one of the first US Senators to urge for American intervention to stop the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia, and advocated for sending Bosnian Muslims weapons and supporting them with NATO air power. At first both HW Bush and Bill Clinton resisted, but eventually Clinton adopted Biden’s strategy as policy which led to a successful NATO peacekeeping effort. America’s actions are believed to have saved hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims from death, unlawful imprisonment, and displacement from their homes. History later repeated itself with Serbian efforts at ethnic cleansing in Kosovo of its Albanian population, where again, Biden supported the NATO bombing campaign to force Serbian troops to retreat and later backed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia despite protests from Russia. Even with the Iraq War vote that Biden describes as one of his worst mistakes, he lobbied the Bush Administration intensively and drafted resolution to emphasize the need for diplomatic efforts to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs, not toppling Saddam.
One of the disadvantages of having a long career is that society shifts, your views change with the times for the better, but your former words and actions are written in stone. This is where Joe Biden has received the most criticism, but his three seminal accomplishments in the Senate need another examination. In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or better known as the 1994 Crime Bill was passed with bipartisan support. Elements of the Bill have aged terribly including clauses that escalated the War on Drugs, instituted three-strikes provisions for repeat offender, and made it harder for convicts to re-integrate into society. If you asked Biden today, he would probably be the first to admit that there were terrible mistakes made in the Crime Bill, but he’ll never apologize for his two main contributions to it; The Violence Against Women Act and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
The Assault Weapons Ban prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons. The act also banned magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more. The ban had a Sunset provision in 2004, and Republicans have blocked all major attempts at gun control since. It’s difficult to argue a counterfactual, but what’s not a coincidence is that the worst instances of gun violence in America since 2004 have frequently utilized the same kind of weapons that were once restricted by the ban.
The Violence Against Women Act was a gamechanger in ways that younger audiences who lack context and experience cannot understand. Before VAWA became law, domestic violence and marital rape were not considered to be heinous cases worth investigating and prosecuting by the law, but mere family matters. Biden made sure that VAWA was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and stipulated that gender biased crimes violate a woman’s civil rights. Pre-VAWA, only half of states required arrest when a domestic dispute turned violent, but Biden made it into Federal Law. There were a range of legal remedies put in to protect women including requiring state to respect protection orders from other states, Federal prosecution of domestic violence that crossed state lines, funding domestic violence crisis centers, and grants to education programs to get judges up to date on gender motivated crimes. The overall rate of intimate-partner violence dropped 64% from 1993 to 2010 according to DoJ statistics and many experts credit VAWA for its contribution.
Biden’s 2005 Bankruptcy Bill was probably the most morally opaque of his major legislative accomplishments and has been a constant source of tension with Senator Warren who was on the other side of the debate as a private citizen at the time. I covered Warren’s view of the Bill in my other comprehensive case post, but Biden regarded it as a consumer-oriented bill to reduce costs for everyone. He saw it as a Bill that would prevent people who had the ability to repay debts, from declaring bankruptcy and passing the costs onto creditors and nonbankrupt consumers. While Biden’s vision of bankruptcy is not one that most contemporary experts share anymore, Biden made sure that the legislation would protect low-income households and favor the interests of divorced mothers and their children. This winds back to a consistent trend in his career, where Biden seems to know that the passage of time may not be kind of his legislation, but he will always hedge and put in clauses to look out for the little people in society.
His tenure as Vice President has been very well documented through books, articles, and even memes, so I won’t spend as much time on the details and opt for broad strokes instead. Even contemporary sources described Biden as one of the most influential and active vice-presidents in history, for a very successful Administration. He served as Obama’s legislative point man and closest counselor on a number of issues. According to Austan Goolsbee, Biden pushed an indecisive Obama to embrace Paul Volcker’s idea regarding reducing the risk banks took on their balance sheets. He was one of the stronger advocates for the successful bailout of the Big Three auto companies and helped save American manufacturing. Joe Biden successfully flipped Arlen Specter which made all of Obama’s legislative goals possible. And when it came to foreign policy, Biden played an outsized role as well and was the President’s direct representative on a number of priorities including a feeling out mission for then incoming Party Chief, Xi Jinping. Biden knew his role and was nothing but loyal to his Office and Constitutional vow, while knowing when to prod and push the President. When Obama was seemingly dragging his feet on publicly supporting Gay Marriage, Biden was happy to serve as his guiding star and blow up years of careful messaging and triangulation, and God Bless him for that.
To the present day. In going through Joe Biden’s policy proposals, it should strike you that this is a man who knows the power of the Office of President, but also respects its limitations. I recommend you read through his many proposals, but I’m going to center on his climate change action plan. Despite his public proclamations about bipartisanship, getting buy-in from Republicans, and going back to the good old days of the Senate, his Climate Change plan shows the pragmatic side of Biden. He knows there will be legislative deadlock, so he has put much of his focus on using Executive Branch authority to require more aggressive pollution limits, shifting the Federal Government procurement system (worth over $500 billion a year) to drive innovation in the private sector, reducing the carbon footprint of the Federal Government, defending existing environmental protection law, and using often ignored tools like pro-density housing policy through HUD. He wants to revamp US foreign policy into one that rewards allies who are doing their part, punishes other countries who neglect their obligations to the planet, and pushes for stronger international climate agreements. This is a realistic plan for when idealism fails, which the US Senate is built to do.
To conclude, Biden has never been a man drawn to cynicism or mocking the person in the arena. Rather, he’s a throwback. The last of the era of American politicians who watched JFK give urgency to the idea of pursuing a national purpose-a great American Mission. A true believer in the boundless potential of America. Through personal and professional tragedies that would have taken down a lesser man, Biden’s faith never wavered.
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[Star Child] Chapter 36

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Last chapter, Meg received her tentative schedule for the spring semester. Someone tampered with her courses, removing her apprentice credit and adding a divination class.. With Christie busy in emergency meetings, Meg took it upon herself to jump through the bureaucratic hoops to get her schedule the way it should be. When letters from Master Claude and a meeting with lower-level registration officers didn’t fix the issue, Meg took things up a notch, enlisting Beth’s help in spying on Christie and the Masters who had been quietly investigating Meg’s background. While Meg successfully kept Beth concealed, someone noticed that Meg was working the required magic...
I jumped in my seat, unsure how to respond.
"You can relax," they said.
I turned around to try to face the source of the unfamiliar voice, but didn't see anything. That didn't help my relaxing.
"Try looking a different way," they teased.
I closed my eyes to look for auras. The mostly masked aura was now moving to sit in the empty chair opposite me.
"I'm not supposed to be interacting with you, so don't respond with more than a nod or blink," they said once I had relaxed back into my chair. "You've got skill, and picking astronomy was a smart way to keep it from getting too much attention."
I tilted my head, hoping it got the message across that I wanted elaboration on why they thought keeping my magic under wraps was smart.
"I don't know what you are, but regardless, if the Council finds out about the extent of your illusion ability, they'll see you as nothing more than a tool," the invisible agent said. "Just look at me, following an innocent student."
I wondered if they knew what had put me in this situation. There was no easy way to ask that question through nods and facial expressions, so I just sat and watched the spot where I knew they were sitting.
"I'm not going to interfere in whatever you and your friend were doing, or report it back to the Council, but if you want my advice, learn to keep your aura in check when you use it," my invisible acquaintance said. "If anyone else in the library was looking at your vicinity, they'd definitely see the gold, and then we might both get in trouble."
I nodded. Their advice seemed solid. I wanted to ask them questions. How much they had been told about me? What could I do to mask my aura, the way they were? Did they know that I could still faintly make their aura out? Were they intentionally doing that, or was it just the limit of their abilities with their aura?
“If your friend is able to get the assemblage called, I’ll see you again,” they whispered as they left. I watched the strange masked aura retreat back downstairs so they could resume their Council-ordered duties of monitoring me from a distance. Did that mean they were with l’Ordre as well? Could they teach me more whenever that meeting happened? I assumed I’d be at the meeting. It only made sense when I seemed to be the one making the dominoes fall.
Moments after the campus bells tolled for the end of the day’s lecture-based classes, Beth came by to let me know she was done with her shift. I had scribbled down a few vague notes about the cryptic, one-sided discussion I had had with my watcher, but they were intentionally vague, since I couldn’t be certain who else was or wasn’t watching. I had to bite back the urge to ask Beth what she had learned at the meeting.
As soon as we got back to the house and closed the door, Beth beat me to it. “You were right,” she said as we kicked off our shoes. “Christie was still not thrilled about having done it, but they did modify your schedule. They were all in on it. Masters Igor and Horatio picked that specific class, and made sure he’d be teaching it, so that they could try to divine more about you, but still have it pass under the radar of the folks in registration. Apparently, they have ongoing issues telling the difference between astrology and astronomy, and wanted to exploit that.”
“Wait what?” Hank asked. He had been passing through the foyer to see what was cooking in the kitchen. I could tell the oven was on, but I wasn’t exactly sure what was baking, so I had been making to follow him when he stopped and turned to face Beth and I.
“We’ll fill you in at dinner,” I said. “There wasn’t too much in the documents they had out, but wait ‘till you hear the discussion I had.”
“Discussion?” Beth asked. “With who?”
“Whoever the Council assigned to watch me,” I said. “They’re apparently involved with l’Ordre, somehow. Warned me to be careful about my aura.”
Beth looked me dead in the eye. “What did they say?”
“Nothing immediately useful,” I said. “Somehow they knew I was keeping you invisible from a distance. The rest was just ‘be careful’ and ‘don’t trust the Council’ which is pretty standard at this point.”
"But did they directly mention l'Ordre?" she asked.
"Not by name," I said. "Just a vague mention to that meeting your aunt has been trying to get called. Why?"
"Part of their code," Beth said. "What did they call the meeting?"
I thought back to the strange, one-sided encounter. "It sounded French, but not quite."
"Assemblage?" Beth asked, skewing the syllables so that it sounded closer to assembly, but not quite.
"That was it!" I said.
Beth sighed in relief. "Most of the secret societies know about the others. L'Ordre has developed a unique set of pronunciations as a code for members, and affiliates like us, to know that the person we're taking to isn't an impostor."
Temporarily distracted, I took my books upstairs to leave on my bed for later. I already had a strong feeling that Dave was going to glare disapprovingly at me for risking exposing my aura, and I wanted to hear Beth's full report on the meeting. Homework could wait for later.
Dinner turned out to be parmesan chicken with a basic marinara sauce. Dave and John were fine at cooking, but never wanted to put in much effort, so I was impressed at the double breaded chicken
"Turns out baking is a great way to procrastinate on papers," John said.
"Why do you think I make so many cookies and brownies?" I asked.
"I just thought you liked having a constant supply of them," he said.
We all laughed. This was what life at Bard was supposed to be like. Friends sharing dinner and taking little jabs at each other. But it could only last so long.
I looked at Beth, asking with my eyes if it was time to share our new information. She nodded, so I took a deep breath.
"So some stuff happened at the library this afternoon," I said. Everyone's faces swiveled at me. "Nothing bad, I think."
"Meg made me invisible so I could watch Christie and the other Masters have their meeting," Beth said. "She was right about the schedule issues she's been having. They want to be able to observe her more, to get more data, because they're no closer to the truth than they were when they started this little squad. Master Igor isn't teaching next semester, so they exploited Registration's confusion between astronomy and astrology."
"Well that's just great," Sam said.
"But it's not all," Beth said. I snapped back to attention. This had just been details on what I had suspected and Beth had quickly confirmed in the foyer. "They've been looking at the charter. Because of how old Bard is, there are provisions that limit the enrollment of non-wizards. The exchange programs don't fall under it, since students get credit from their home institutions, but there are heavy penalties for students enrolled under false pretenses and, if they apprentice, their advising Master."
"How heavy?" Hazel asked.
"It depends on the infiltrating mythic," Beth said. "It's actually pretty light for elves, but they made it sound like it could be severe for Meg and Uncle Claude. Banishment from mythic society for the student, and stripping the Master of their title."
"Even with the Council themselves forging my documents, essentially declaring me a wizard for all intents and purposes?" I asked.
"They didn't say," Beth said. "With that, you could be entirely in the clear."
"I can look that up after dinner," Dave said. "I should have a copy of the charter around somewhere."
"Of course you do," Hank said, diffusing the tension for a moment.
"On top of that, I had a pretty one-sided discussion with the person the Council assigned to follow me," I said.
If my friends had been surprised earlier, they were completely stunned now.
"Somehow, they knew what I was doing, keeping Beth invisible," I said. "So they gave me a friendly warning that if others happened to be looking at auras, my golden one would have been a beacon. They're not going to tell the Council what I was up to though, so that's a plus."
"It was still incredibly risky," Dave said.
"What was I supposed to do?" I asked. "Let my academic career get roadblocked by meddlesome Masters who seem to care a little too much about the prestige of the college?"
That at least made Dave pause to think. I was in a tough situation. The wizard council wanted to keep me under their thumb. The Celestial Council was keeping me at arm’s length because they didn’t want the wizard Council finding out about them, so I had no clue if they had their own educational structures, or if they piggybacked off of other mythics. They had made it seem like elven Star Children were just elves with extra abilities, so between that and Master Iridius, it seemed like the piggyback theory was a likely candidate.
“So did they say anything else?” Sam asked.
“Besides remarking that astronomy was a smart choice for hiding my abilities, so the Council wouldn’t try to exploit me like they exploited them, not really,” I said. “Which, not something I was thinking about at the time, but still a good point.”
“Don’t count on them admitting to being the agent watching you if the assemblage is called,” Beth said. “I have a few ideas on who it might be, but likely they won’t want to reveal themselves while they’re still assigned to watch you.”
I had been hoping they’d be able to teach me more about using or hiding my aura. Like whatever technique Master Iridius had used to nearly mask his own aura during my trial, making it look to Mark’s parents and lawyer that he was a wizard.
The combination of news made for a quiet clean up from dinner while everyone was processing the new information. I was processing Beth’s news about the Bard College charter. Beth was processing all the details on whoever it was that had talked to me, probably trying to figure out who they were. And the others were processing, well, everything. As far as any of us could tell, there wasn’t much to do besides what I had already done to try to get my schedule fixed, and the rest led to business as usual. That didn’t mean that we liked it, but it was where we were at.
There was a knock at the door. Since I was done washing the dishes, and was just helping dry things, I put my towel down and went to answer it.
“Christie?” I asked, confused what she was doing here, and especially now that it was well after dinner.
“I just got back to my office after my emergency meetings,” she said. “Alan left some papers on my desk, and I’m so sorry about the difficulties you’ve been having.” She looked around, like she was expecting to see someone watching her. “Is it safe here?”
I made a snap decision to play dumb, to pretend that I had no clue what she was talking about.
“My friends who live here are still cleaning up dishes,” I said. “But I assume you’re referring to outside listeners, and not them.” I stepped away from the door to let her in.
“This might take a bit of time to explain,” Christie said. “Is there somewhere to sit?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hank skitter back to the kitchen, probably to tell everyone else what was going on.
“Probably at the big table,” I said. Old habits from when my parents had guests kicked in. “Should we make some tea?”
“We might need it,” Christie said.
I heard the faucet turn on as I led Christie down the hallway. Once we were all seated with our tea, she began her story.
“I need to give you the context this takes place in first,” she said. “I’ve already mentioned that I never completed my apprenticeship. For a time, that was the right path for me, but I didn’t do my homework. There were rules that prevented me from reapplying to complete an apprenticeship once I was too far into my leave of absence from my education, meaning I would never become a Master.”
I nodded. None of this was breaking news.
“There was a boy,” she said. “A mundane boy. He knew there was something different about my family, but didn’t know what it was. We were in love, but my parents wouldn’t dream of their only daughter marrying a mundane. So I was forcibly sent to Bard. Back in those days, parents were able to set more restrictions on their children, and Security enforced a curfew.”
“I’m glad those aren’t the rules anymore,” John said. We all laughed, remembering how he had become completely nocturnal last summer after testing Hank’s magically enhanced caffeine.
“The administration took a while, but they have caught up with considering the students adults,” Christie said. “Anyways, my parents weren’t able to cut off my mail, so Jason and I continued to send letters back and forth. Eventually, he had enough saved up for a house, a car, and a ring. I lied to my parents about having an apprenticeship that required me to travel as soon as the semester ended, and Jason and I were married by the end of the summer.”
“Awww,” Beth said quietly. I could have sworn I saw her glance over at John.
“My parents disowned me, naturally,” Christie said. She was so blase about the fact, it was startling. “But we were happy. Our children were mundane, so I never had to deal with explaining magic to Jason and breaking secrecy. I practiced Seeing in secret, usually while Jason was at work and the children were at school. I knew our life wasn’t going to last forever, and that I would eventually have to return to mythic society and find some menial job, but it ended sooner than I wanted it to. Jason had cancer, and in those days, a cancer diagnosis was usually a death sentence. That was the point when I started working part time at Bard, under the guise of wanting something to do while the house was empty, now that there was less cleaning with the kids moved out. I had hoped that if I worked my way into the system, I would be able to find a way to complete an apprenticeship. It didn’t quite work out that way, but being a Director has similar benefits, so working my way to my current position has paid off.”
“But a new offer came up?” Dave asked. That was always how these things went, and he knew it.
Christie hung her head. “When the semester started, Master Igor started to assemble a coalition of individuals with a certain skill set and regard for the rules. I resisted at first, because of confidentiality reasons, but eventually he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He claimed that if we uncovered some sort of wrongdoing on the part of the college, that he would find a way to get me a title.”
“That’s impossible,” Dave scoffed.
“That’s what I said, but Master Igor said that he would be able to do it,” Christie said.
“And you believed him?” I asked.
Of course she did. That’s why she had been working with them.
“It was a lapse in judgement,” Christie said. “At first, I was just as curious about your story as they were. But it’s gone too far with the schedule games they’ve been playing.”
I started to open my mouth, but Christie kept going.
“At first, I had suggested that I could try to talk you into taking one of your astrology electives next semester,” Christie said. “Master Igor could arrange the department schedule so that he would be teaching your section. But it escalated from there, and I was in too deep to back out, which is how your schedule became so different from what you requested. I’m so sorry to have put you through all this trouble.”
“Is there anything that can be done to fix it before my meeting?” I asked. "Or at the meeting. But before it's finalized?"
"I can try," Christie said. "It's the last I can do for the trouble this could cause for completing your courses before the Orphan Assistance funding ends."
"Wait, do you mean the funds paying for Meg's courses, or your whole office?" Sam asked.
"How do you know about that?" Christie asked.
"My apprenticeship Master mentioned there were some budget politics going on, and that a lot of departments weren't happy," Sam said.
"It's both," Christie said. "Orphans are only allocated a certain number of courses before they need to find way to pay on their own, usually a paid apprenticeship. But yes, the Office for Orphan Assistance is one of the offices slated for reorganization, since it serves so few students."
"And under the reorganization, you'd lose Director status, wouldn't you?" John asked, piecing things together. That was why Christie needed to find a way to get that Master title in front of her name.
"So you understand why I did what I did?" Christie asked. "I never intended for it to get this far."
"But it still did," I said. "I understand though. You were put in an impossible place by ridiculous rules."
I hadn't made up my mind on what to do. I didn't fully trust Christie. I wasn't about to go tell her that I wasn't a wizard. But she did come here to try to make amends, which she didn't have to do. Without our spying, it was still possible for this to be a genuine clerical error, and certainly not one I'd hold against Christie.
"I'll see what I can do to get your schedule fixed," Christie said. "I think I can make a few calls to give it priority, so it'll be fixed in a few days."
Christie stood to leave, rounding the table to put her mug in the sink.
"I haven't been here that long," she said. "How on earth is the sun already coming up?"
We all turned. The predawn light was filtering through the trees out back.
"It's just a thing the yard does," Sam hastily lied. "Keeps it usable in the winter."
Meanwhile, Hank slipped out of the room. I didn't know what he was doing, but Sam's tone alone made it clear: stall her until someone could figure something out.
"Interesting," Christie said. I could tell she didn't believe it.
Hazel's aura came to life, invisible to the naked eye, but I could feel mine react ever so slightly.
Christie yawned. "Well, it's been a long day, I really should be getting home."
A dart sprouted from her neck and she froze.
"Didn't think that would be useful," Hank said.
"What did you do?" Dave asked.
"Bought us a few minutes," Hank said. "It's definitely morning, and we need to find a way to make her think it's still night, and that nothing weird happened here."
"Well you're the Alchemist, isn't that the sort of thing potions are for?" Jack asked.
"I could find a cocktail that would work," Hank said. "But it would be dangerous. The more we can do without them, the more effective the ones we deliver will be."
"Can you take her back in time?" Jack asked Sam.
"Not without causing problems," Sam said. "Because we need her back in time here so that she walks home, and remembers walking home. A portal to last night at her home would be easy. But avoiding crossing ourselves? That's nigh impossible."
"I could probably keep an illusion around her so it looks like night," I said. “Let her start walking home thinking it’s night, and then the portal back through time. Or would the portal be obvious?”
"For the few hours back we'd need, the portal through time would be instantaneous," Sam said. "We could get her far enough away that crossing timelines isn't a concern, then send her back to yesterday evening, and nobody would be any the wiser."
"And the last few moments will already be muddled by the Petrifying Potion," Hank said.
"As long as the house isn't being watched by one of the others in Christie's league, it does seem like a very clean way to cover things up," Dave said. I could tell he was nervous about the fact that we were dealing with a Director, but there wasn’t much else we could do without the truth coming out.
So we sprung into action. I started creating shadows and the starry sky, careful that my illusion wouldn't be noticeable to those outside of it. Hank went to get the specific antidote to the Petrifying Potion. Dave and Sam debated exactly when to send Christie back to.
I was amazed that our plan worked so well. It was almost too good to be true that we got Christie back home without incident. Sam hopped back in time to watch the rest of her walk home, to make sure that she didn't stop or talk to anyone. And then it was time to start getting ready for class.
"This is going to be a long day," I said to Hazel as I washed my face. I hoped that keeping my hair pulled back would hide the fact that I hadn't washed it.
Next Chapter
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What A Day: Something To DACA 'Bout by Sarah Lazarus & Crooked Media (06/18/20)

"Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?" - Donald Trump, victim

Dream On

The Supreme Court has blocked President Trump from immediately ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, marking a huge (but not yet permanent) victory for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. For those keeping score at home, this week’s ratio of Bad News to Good News now stands at an unprecedented 346972957 to 2. Momentum!
While Trump throws a performative tantrum, it’s worth remembering that the Supreme Court has largely rubber stamped his anti-immigration agenda.
Today’s ruling is an important, unexpected reprieve for so many young people, but it’s a temporary one, and the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. get no break from the terror of deportation at all. No one’s out of the woods until Trump is out of office, and we have less than five months to make that happen.

Look No Further Than The Crooked Media

On today's Pod Save America, Color of Change Chair Heather McGhee joins Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer as a guest host to talk about Trump’s speech on police reform, the Senate Republican bill, where Joe Biden and the Democrats stand, and how we can ensure that this Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police moment becomes a durable political movement to fight systemic racism. Check out the full episode here → youtube.com/crookedmedia

Under The Radar

Facebook has deactivated dozens of ads from President Trump’s re-election campaign that included a symbol the Nazis used to designate political prisoners in concentration camps. The ads were part of an online effort to manufacture fear of Antifa, and featured a red inverted triangle that the Trump campaign tried to claim was a “widely used” Antifa emblem. (Its supporting evidence for this: a link to a T-shirt on a design-your-own T-shirt website.) There were 88 ads with the symbol in total, and this could be a wacky coincidence, but the number 88 sure is white supremacist code for “Heil Hitler.” Facebook removed the ads for violating its policy against “organized hate.” Now seems like a good time to mention that Trump wants to change liability law to make it harder for social-media platforms to do this kind of thing.

What Else?

Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past week. That makes the 13th straight week that new claims have exceeded one million.
The Senate has confirmed Justin Walker to a lifetime seat on the second-highest court in the country. Walker is a protege of Mitch McConnell, a vocal defender of Brett Kavanaugh, and was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association less than a year ago after his first nomination to a federal court.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s promotion to full colonel is reportedly in jeopardy. Multiple government officials expect that Trump will deny it in retaliation for Vindman’s testimony to the House impeachment inquiry.
The heads of four agencies overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were fired on Wednesday night, suggesting that the new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack plans to turn the agency into a propaganda mouthpiece for the president.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies fatally shot the half-brother of Robert Fuller, the 24-year-old black man who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, CA, last week.
The Justice Department asked a judge for an emergency order to block the publication of John Bolton’s book, a few hours after we all learned what’s in it. This is a) a troubling escalation in the White House’s assault on the First Amendment in the interest of protecting Trump’s ego, and b) a little bit fun: By arguing that information in the book is classified, the administration is admitting that the information is true.
Our sociopathic president suggested in a Wall Street Journal interview that people are wearing masks to indicate that they don’t like him, and also said, “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
An Arizona sheriff who vowed not to enforce the state’s stay-at-home order tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a scheduled meeting with Trump.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suddenly announced he has a 19-year-old Cuban son. A gobsmacking development in the Large Adult Son universe.

Be Smarter

President Trump has been pushing officials to speed up the already famously “warp speed” Operation Warp Speed, demanding that they produce a vaccine (or something he can call a vaccine) in time to help him win re-election. That worries scientists who fear that Trump’s obsession with the timeline could put pressure on regulators to approve the limited use of a vaccine before it’s been adequately tested for safety and effectiveness. Some have specifically raised the alarm that the administration will authorize a vaccine as an “October surprise,” whether it’s ready or not. Other scientists (and maybe some of the same ones) are alarmed by the fact that Operation Warp Speed has been bypassing time-tested vaccine technologies and funding only newer approaches, effectively gambling that they’ll get lucky in time to help Trump.

What A Sponsor

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Is That Hope I Feel?

A progressive donor network has launched a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) issued a statewide order requiring Californians to wear face masks in public settings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of House speakers who served in the Confederacy from the Capitol.
Bandcamp will donate its cut of sales from Juneteenth (and all Juneteenths to come) to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Enjoy

Taylor Lorenz on Twitter: "Absolutely obsessed with this man’s texting advice"
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'AP: Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got {at least}$1.4B' (Illustrated) July 10th 2010

'AP: Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got {at least}$1.4B' (Illustrated) July 10th 2010
source : https://apnews.com/dab8261c68c93f24c0bfc1876518b3f6

"AP: Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got $1.4B

By REESE DUNKLIN and MICHAEL REZENDES July 10, 2020
https://preview.redd.it/ygaijwftxma51.png?width=1018&format=png&auto=webp&s=864011360c2ded70ac8b407a2312921e4778c3d6
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.
The church’s haul may have reached -- or even exceeded -- $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.
Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration. But as the economy plummeted and jobless rates soared, Congress let faith groups and other nonprofits tap into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $659 billion fund created to keep Main Street open and Americans employed.
By aggressively promoting the payroll program and marshaling resources to help affiliates navigate its shifting rules, Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools and other ministries have so far received approval for at least 3,500 forgivable loans, AP found.
The Archdiocese of New York, for example, received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its top executive offices. Its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was approved for at least $1 million.
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2019 file photo, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York. Dolan established a victim compensation fund in 2016, as a successful battle to lift the statute of limitations on the filing of child sexual abuse lawsuits gathered steam. In 2020, the Archdiocese of New York received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its top executive offices. Its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was approved for at least $1 million. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In Orange County, California, where a sparkling glass cathedral estimated to cost over $70 million recently opened, diocesan officials working at the complex received four loans worth at least $3 million.
And elsewhere, a loan of at least $2 million went to the diocese covering Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, where a church investigation revealed last year that then-Bishop Michael Bransfield embezzled funds and made sexual advances toward young priests.
Simply being eligible for low-interest loans was a new opportunity. But the church couldn’t have been approved for so many loans -- which the government will forgive if they are used for wages, rent and utilities -- without a second break.
Religious groups persuaded the Trump administration to free them from a rule that typically disqualifies an applicant with more than 500 workers. Without this preferential treatment, many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible because -- between their head offices, parishes and other affiliates -- their employees exceed the 500-person cap.
“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” said Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor specializing in constitutional issues and religion who has studied the Paycheck Protection Program. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”
The amount that the church collected, between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion, is an undercount. The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an organization of Catholic financial officers, surveyed members and reported that about 9,000 Catholic entities received loans. That is nearly three times the number of Catholic recipients the AP could identify.
FILE - In this Friday, May 1, 2020 file photo, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez gives a blessing after leading a brief liturgy at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Gomez heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which paid $20,000 to lobby the U.S. Senate and House on “eligibility for non-profits” in a landmark coronavirus relief law. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, Pool)
The AP couldn’t find more Catholic beneficiaries because the government’s data, released after pressure from Congress and a lawsuit from news outlets including the AP, didn’t name recipients of loans under $150,000 -- a category in which many smaller churches would fall. And because the government released only ranges of loan amounts, it wasn’t possible to be more precise.
Even without a full accounting, AP’s analysis places the Catholic Church among the major beneficiaries in the Paycheck Protection Program, which also has helped companies backed by celebrities, billionaires, state governors and members of Congress.
The program was open to all religious groups, and many took advantage. Evangelical advisers to President Donald Trump, including his White House spiritual czar, Paula White-Cain, also received loans.
___
‘TRULY IN NEED’
There is no doubt that state shelter-in-place orders disrupted houses of worship and businesses alike.
Masses were canceled, even during the Holy Week and Easter holidays, depriving parishes of expected revenue and contributing to layoffs in some dioceses. Some families of Catholic school students are struggling to make tuition payments. And the expense of disinfecting classrooms once classes resume will put additional pressure on budgets.
But other problems were self-inflicted. Long before the pandemic, scores of dioceses faced increasing financial pressure because of a dramatic rise in recent clergy sex abuse claims.
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 file photo, visitors tour the grounds of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the seat of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The archdiocese told The Associated Press in a 2020 survey sent before the release of federal data, that 247 of its 288 parishes -- and all but one of its 232 schools -- received forgivable loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The scandals that erupted in 2018 reverberated throughout the world. Pope Francis ordered the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to a life of “prayer and penance” following allegations he abused minors and adult seminarians. And a damning grand jury report about abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses revealed bishops had long covered for predator priests, spurring investigations in more than 20 other states.
As the church again reckoned with its longtime crisis, abuse reports tripled during the year ending June 2019 to a total of nearly 4,500 nationally. Meanwhile, dioceses and religious orders shelled out $282 million that year — up from $106 million just five years earlier. Most of that went to settlements, in addition to legal fees and support for offending clergy.
Loan recipients included about 40 dioceses that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years paying victims through compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings. AP’s review found that these dioceses were approved for about $200 million, though the value is likely much higher.
One was the New York Archdiocese. As a successful battle to lift the statute of limitations on the filing of child sexual abuse lawsuits gathered steam, Cardinal Timothy Dolan established a victim compensation fund in 2016. Since then, other dioceses have established similar funds, which offer victims relatively quick settlements while dissuading them from filing lawsuits.
Spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said the archdiocese simply wanted to be “treated equally and fairly under the law.” When asked about the waiver from the 500-employee cap that religious organizations received, Zwilling deferred to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A spokesperson for the bishops’ conference acknowledged its officials lobbied for the paycheck program, but said the organization wasn’t tracking what dioceses and Catholic agencies received.
“These loans are an essential lifeline to help faith-based organizations to stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi said in a written statement. According to AP’s data analysis, the church and all its organizations reported retaining at least 407,900 jobs with the money they were awarded.
Noguchi also wrote the conference felt strongly that “the administration write and implement this emergency relief fairly for all applicants.”
Not every Catholic institution sought government loans. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy based in Stamford, Connecticut, told AP that even though its parishes experienced a decline in donations, none of the organizations in its five-state territory submitted applications.
Deacon Steve Wisnowski, a financial officer for the eparchy, said pastors and church managers used their rainy-day savings and that parishioners responded generously with donations. As a result, parishes “did not experience a severe financial crisis.”
![img](3yagdosh1na51 " This Aug. 8, 2018 photo shows St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, Pa., the home parish for the Catholic Diocese of Erie. In mid-March 2020, the diocese closed its churches as the coronavirus spread, limiting its access to weekly donors, and applied for funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. It also withheld payments from its victim-compensation program, saying its bank had decreased a line of credit. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP) ")
Wisnowski said his superiors understood the program was for “organizations and businesses truly in need of assistance.”
___
LOBBYING FOR A BREAK
The law that created the Paycheck Protection Program let nonprofits participate, as long as they abided by SBA’s “affiliation rule.” The rule typically says that only businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including at all subsidiaries, are eligible.
Lobbying by the church helped religious organizations get an exception.
The Catholic News Service reported that the bishops’ conference and several major Catholic nonprofit agencies worked throughout the week of March 30 to ensure that the “unique nature of the entities would not make them ineligible for the program” because of how SBA defines a “small” business. Those conversations came just days after President Trump signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which included the Paycheck Protection Program.
In addition, federal records show the Los Angeles archdiocese, whose leader heads the bishops’ conference, paid $20,000 to lobby the U.S. Senate and House on “eligibility for non-profits” under the CARES Act. The records also show that Catholic Charities USA, a social service arm of the church with member agencies in dioceses across the country, paid another $30,000 to lobby on the act and other issues.
In late April, after thousands of Catholic institutions had secured loans, several hundred Catholic leaders pressed for additional help on a call with President Trump. During the call, Trump underscored the coming presidential election and touted himself as the candidate best aligned with religious conservatives, boasting he was the “best (president) the Catholic church has ever seen,” according to Crux ( https://www.reddit.com/Jesuitworldordecomments/gxubup/trump_says_hes_best_president_in_history_of_the/ ), an online publication that covers church-related news.
The lobbying paid off.
Catholic Charities USA and its member agencies were approved for about 110 loans worth between $90 million and $220 million at least, according to the data.
In a statement, Catholic Charities said: “Each organization is a separate legal entity under the auspices of the bishop in the diocese in which the agency is located. CCUSA supports agencies that choose to become members, but does not have any role in their daily operations or governance.”
The Los Angeles archdiocese told AP in a survey that reporters sent before the release of federal data that 247 of its 288 parishes -- and all but one of its 232 schools -- received loans. The survey covered more than 180 dioceses and eparchies.
Like most dioceses, Los Angeles wouldn’t disclose its total dollar amount. While the federal data doesn’t link Catholic recipients to their home dioceses, AP found 37 loans to the archdiocese and its affiliates worth between $9 million and $23 million, including one for its downtown cathedral.
In 2007, the archdiocese paid a record $660 million to settle sex abuse claims from more than 500 victims. Spokespeople for Los Angeles Archbishop Jose M. Gomez did not respond to additional questions about the archdiocese’s finances and lobbying.
In program materials, SBA officials said they provided the affiliation waiver to religious groups in deference to their unique organizational structure, and because the public health response to slow the coronavirus’ spread disrupted churches just as it did businesses.
![img](p781ef8p1na51 " In this Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 photo, Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence T. Persico leaves after a news conference at the St. Mark Catholic Center in Erie, Pa., responding to the state attorney general's grand jury report on sex abuse in his diocese and five other Pennsylvanian Roman Catholic dioceses. In mid-March 2020, the Diocese of Erie, Pa., closed its churches as the coronavirus spread, limiting its access to weekly donors, and applied for funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. It also withheld payments from its victim-compensation program, saying its bank had decreased a line of credit. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP) ")

A senior official in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which worked with the SBA to administer the program, acknowledged in a statement the wider availability of loans to religious organizations. “The CARES Act expanded eligibility to include nonprofits in the PPP, and SBA’s regulations ensured that no eligible religious nonprofit was excluded from participation due to its beliefs or denomination,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, some legal experts say that the special consideration the government gave faith groups in the loan program has further eroded the wall between church and state provided in the First Amendment. With that erosion, religious groups that don’t pay taxes have gained more access to public money, said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and attorney who has represented clergy abuse victims on constitutional issues during bankruptcy proceedings.
“At this point, the argument is you’re anti-religious if in fact you would say the Catholic Church shouldn’t be getting government funding,” Hamilton said.
___
CASHING IN FAST
After its lobbying blitz, the Catholic Church worked with parishes and schools to access the money.
Many dioceses -- from large ones such as the Archdiocese of Boston to smaller ones such as the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin -- assembled how-to guides to help their affiliates apply. The national Catholic fiscal conference also hosted multiple webinars with legal and financial experts to help coach along local leaders.
Federal data show that the bulk of the church’s money was approved during the loan program’s first two weeks. That’s when demand for the first-come, first-served assistance was so high that the initial $349 billion was quickly exhausted, shutting out many local businesses.
Overall, nearly 500 loans approved to Catholic entities exceeded $1 million each. The AP found that at least eight hit the maximum range of $5 million to $10 million. Many of the listed recipients were the offices of bishops, headquarters of leading religious orders, major churches, schools and chapters of Catholic Charities.
Also among recipients was the Saint Luke Institute. The Catholic treatment center for priests accused of sexual abuse and those suffering from other disorders received a loan ranging from $350,000 to $1 million. Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, the institute has at times been a way station for priests accused of sexual abuse who returned to active ministry only to abuse again.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the church’s aggressive pursuit of funds better than four dioceses that sued the federal government to receive loans, even though they entered bankruptcy proceedings due to mounting clergy sex-abuse claims. Small Business Administration rules prohibit loans to applicants in bankruptcy.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico -- once home to a now-closed and notorious treatment center for predator priests -- prevailed in court, clearing the way for its administrative offices to receive nearly $1 million. It accused the SBA of overreaching by blocking bankruptcy applications when Congress didn’t spell that out.
Yet even when a diocese has lost in bankruptcy court, or its case is pending, its affiliated parishes, schools and other organizations remain eligible for loans.
On the U.S. territory of Guam, well over 200 clergy abuse lawsuits led church leaders in the tiny Archdiocese of Agana to seek bankruptcy protection, as they estimated at least $45 million in liabilities. Even so, the archdiocese’s parishes, schools and other organizations have received at least $1.7 million as it sues the SBA for approval to get a loan for its headquarters, according to bankruptcy filings.
FILE - In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019 file photo, a statue of Pope John Paul II stands outside the island's main cathedral, Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, during a Mass in Hagatna, Guam. Over 200 clergy abuse lawsuits led church leaders in the U.S. territory to seek bankruptcy protection, as they estimated at least $45 million in liabilities. Even so, the Archdiocese of Agana’s parishes, schools and other organizations have received at least $1.7 million in coronavirus rescue funds, even as it sues the Small Business Administration for approval to get a loan for its headquarters, according bankruptcy filings. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The U.S. church may have a troubling record on sex abuse, but Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, pushed back on the idea that dioceses should be excluded from the government’s rescue package. Approximately 80 organizations within his diocese received loans worth $10.3 million, the diocese said, with most of the money going to parishes and schools.
Persico pointed out that church entities help feed, clothe and shelter the poor -- and in doing so keep people employed.
“I know some people may react with surprise that government funding helped support faith-based schools, parishes and dioceses,” he said. “The separation of church and state does not mean that those motivated by their faith have no place in the public square.”"
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"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate" -MLK

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"
16 April 1963 My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
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[Effort Post] The Comprehensive Case for Joe Biden

I originally wrote this prior to the Iowa Caucus to help me decide between two candidates. I wanted to do a series focusing solely on the positive, qualifying attributes of each person and there was no better place to begin than the long-time frontrunner, Vice President Joe Biden. The recent revival of his campaign along with endorsements from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and former Representative Beto O’Rourke have brought a lot of new people into the fold and I thought it would be good for everyone to get to know Joe better. With his long career of public service and many accomplishments, it would be an act of futility to document it piece by piece, and hope my words end before people’s attention span, so I wanted to focus on the larger trends with every stop Biden made.
Biden began his career as a Public Defender in the Delaware public defender’s office. He reportedly gave up more lucrative opportunities for humble beginnings, but he never regretted it, having already done a stint at a prominent law firm where he sympathized with the opposing plaintiff, a welder who was injured on the job. The experience soured him on the idea of private practice and drew him to protecting the little guy. One longtime NAACP activist in Delaware described his tenure as, “[Biden] would take the case for black folks, for poor whites. He was a hero to the black community when it came to the public defender.”
He next won a race to a seat on Delaware’s New Castle County Council where most of his public record began, including controversial statements on student busing that have dominated news coverage of his time here. Less covered has been his experience connecting with his black constituents and fighting for issues that affected them the most. Biden supported a bill that would have banned the practice of redlining and he championed public housing that was widely opposed by his white constituents
After dislodging long-time Republican Senator, Caleb Boggs, when Biden was given no chance of winning, on a platform of ending the Vietnam War, protecting the environment, civil rights, and change, tragedy struck. While Christmas Shopping, his wife’s car was struck by a truck, killing her and Biden’s infant daughter. Instead of spending Christmas at home with his family, Biden was at the hospital mourning his dead wife and infant daughter, and watching over his two young sons who were injured in the crash. Biden thought about resigning right there, but instead chose to make the two hour Amtrak journey back home to Delaware every night to make sure his sons would never lack for time with him.
Once in the Senate, many of Biden’s first attempts at Bills and Amendments were focused on consumer protection, public infrastructure, and environmental protection. These included:
S.3838 - Debt Collection Practices Act which prohibits debt collectors from harassing or intimidating consumers in connection with the collection or attempted collection of any alleged debt arising from a consumer credit transaction.
S.1961 - Consumer Leasing Act which assures a meaningful disclosure of the terms of leases of personal property so as to enable the lessee to compare more readily the various lease and credit terms available to him, to limit balloon payments, and to assure meaningful and accurate disclosures of lease terms in advertisements.
S.2908 - A bill to establish a mass transportation trust fund and to amend the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 in order to assure adequate local transportation service.
S.3791 - A bill to amend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 in order to assist industry and employees in complying with environmental protection programs.
S.1927 - Equal Credit Opportunity Act Amendments. Prohibits creditors from discriminating against consumer applicants for credit on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, national origin, political affiliation, receipt of public assistance benefits, or the exercise of rights under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act or any other provision of law. Requires creditors to give each consumer applicant a statement of reasons for credit denial or termination.
S.2883 - Fair Credit Reporting Act Amendments. Provides that if an investigative consumer report contains information which may be adverse to the consumer to whom it relates, a consumer reporting agency may not furnish that report to any third party for employment purposes.
Biden soon turned his focus to Foreign Affairs where he carved out a reputation as someone who had faith in diplomacy and de-escalation, but was prepared to defend the peace with American force if necessary. Much of his early career was dedicated to Arms Control including pressuring the Reagan Administration to adhere to the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Soviet Union and decrease the number of nuclear warheads. He followed up with being one of the first US Senators to urge for American intervention to stop the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia, and advocated for sending Bosnian Muslims weapons and supporting them with NATO air power. At first both HW Bush and Bill Clinton resisted, but eventually Clinton adopted Biden’s strategy as policy which led to a successful NATO peacekeeping effort. America’s actions are believed to have saved hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims from death, unlawful imprisonment, and displacement from their homes. History later repeated itself with Serbian efforts at ethnic cleansing in Kosovo of its Albanian population, where again, Biden supported the NATO bombing campaign to force Serbian troops to retreat and later backed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia despite protests from Russia. Even with the Iraq War vote that Biden describes as one of his worst mistakes, he lobbied the Bush Administration intensively and drafted resolution to emphasize the need for diplomatic efforts to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs, not toppling Saddam.
One of the disadvantages of having a long career is that society shifts, your views change with the times for the better, but your former words and actions are written in stone. This is where Joe Biden has received the most criticism, but his three seminal accomplishments in the Senate need another examination. In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or better known as the 1994 Crime Bill was passed with bipartisan support. Elements of the Bill have aged terribly including clauses that escalated the War on Drugs, instituted three-strikes provisions for repeat offender, and made it harder for convicts to re-integrate into society. If you asked Biden today, he would probably be the first to admit that there were terrible mistakes made in the Crime Bill, but he’ll never apologize for his two main contributions to it; The Violence Against Women Act and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
The Assault Weapons Ban prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons. The act also banned magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more. The ban had a Sunset provision in 2004, and Republicans have blocked all major attempts at gun control since. It’s difficult to argue a counterfactual, but what’s not a coincidence is that the worst instances of gun violence in America since 2004 have frequently utilized the same kind of weapons that were once restricted by the ban.
The Violence Against Women Act was a gamechanger in ways that younger audiences who lack context and experience cannot understand. Before VAWA became law, domestic violence and marital rape were not considered to be heinous cases worth investigating and prosecuting by the law, but mere family matters. Biden made sure that VAWA was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and stipulated that gender biased crimes violate a woman’s civil rights. Pre-VAWA, only half of states required arrest when a domestic dispute turned violent, but Biden made it into Federal Law. There were a range of legal remedies put in to protect women including requiring state to respect protection orders from other states, Federal prosecution of domestic violence that crossed state lines, funding domestic violence crisis centers, and grants to education programs to get judges up to date on gender motivated crimes. The overall rate of intimate-partner violence dropped 64% from 1993 to 2010 according to DoJ statistics and many experts credit VAWA for its contribution.
Biden’s 2005 Bankruptcy Bill was probably the most morally opaque of his major legislative accomplishments and has been a constant source of tension with Senator Warren who was on the other side of the debate as a private citizen at the time. I covered Warren’s view of the Bill in my other comprehensive case post, but Biden regarded it as a consumer-oriented bill to reduce costs for everyone. He saw it as a Bill that would prevent people who had the ability to repay debts, from declaring bankruptcy and passing the costs onto creditors and nonbankrupt consumers. While Biden’s vision of bankruptcy is not one that most contemporary experts share anymore, Biden made sure that the legislation would protect low-income households and favor the interests of divorced mothers and their children. This winds back to a consistent trend in his career, where Biden seems to know that the passage of time may not be kind of his legislation, but he will always hedge and put in clauses to look out for the little people in society.
His tenure as Vice President has been very well documented through books, articles, and even memes, so I won’t spend as much time on the details and opt for broad strokes instead. Even contemporary sources described Biden as one of the most influential and active vice-presidents in history, for a very successful Administration. He served as Obama’s legislative point man and closest counselor on a number of issues. According to Austan Goolsbee, Biden pushed an indecisive Obama to embrace Paul Volcker’s idea regarding reducing the risk banks took on their balance sheets. He was one of the stronger advocates for the successful bailout of the Big Three auto companies and helped save American manufacturing. Joe Biden successfully flipped Arlen Specter which made all of Obama’s legislative goals possible. And when it came to foreign policy, Biden played an outsized role as well and was the President’s direct representative on a number of priorities including a feeling out mission for then incoming Party Chief, Xi Jinping. Biden knew his role and was nothing but loyal to his Office and Constitutional vow, while knowing when to prod and push the President. When Obama was seemingly dragging his feet on publicly supporting Gay Marriage, Biden was happy to serve as his guiding star and blow up years of careful messaging and triangulation, and God Bless him for that.
To the present day. In going through Joe Biden’s policy proposals, it should strike you that this is a man who knows the power of the Office of President, but also respects its limitations. I recommend you read through his many proposals, but I’m going to center on his climate change action plan. Despite his public proclamations about bipartisanship, getting buy-in from Republicans, and going back to the good old days of the Senate, his Climate Change plan shows the pragmatic side of Biden. He knows there will be legislative deadlock, so he has put much of his focus on using Executive Branch authority to require more aggressive pollution limits, shifting the Federal Government procurement system (worth over $500 billion a year) to drive innovation in the private sector, reducing the carbon footprint of the Federal Government, defending existing environmental protection law, and using often ignored tools like pro-density housing policy through HUD. He wants to revamp US foreign policy into one that rewards allies who are doing their part, punishes other countries who neglect their obligations to the planet, and pushes for stronger international climate agreements. This is a realistic plan for when idealism fails, which the US Senate is built to do.
To conclude, Biden has never been a man drawn to cynicism or mocking the person in the arena. Rather, he’s a throwback. The last of the era of American politicians who watched JFK give urgency to the idea of pursuing a national purpose-a great American Mission. A true believer in the boundless potential of America. Through personal and professional tragedies that would have taken down a lesser man, Biden’s faith never wavered.
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