Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Respect – We Are ALL Made in God's Image the Central Message of Christianity
Guest Blog by Nick Rimmer, Esq.
Respect –this is a central message of Christianity. We are all made in God’s image, and we must treat our neighbors with the respect that each of us deserves. Whether you’re a Christian or not, this seems to be a pretty good message.
This is what makes Hope Christian School’s decision to deny admission to a 3-year-old boy because he comes from a same-sex family all the more disappointing. The fact that the school also receives tax-payer dollars makes the decision really troubling.
Like many private schools, Hope Christian’s application form reflects an understanding of changing family dynamics in the modern age. For instance, the application includes a section that allows four different parents and guardians at different addresses, recognizing that the definition of family in modern America is evolving.
Our children face so many more challenges, including coming from homes where both parents may have to work two-or-three jobs just to make ends meet, than the generations before them.
We know that those fortunate enough to have a family are far more likely to overcome those challenges. After reviewing decades of study, psychologist C.J. Patterson concluded “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any signiﬁcant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.” 
New Mexico already has enough challenges when it comes to raising our children. More than 30% of our children live in poverty, the second highest rate in the nation . And more than six out of 10, like the boy denied admission to Hope Christian, who are eligible for preschool are not enrolled. Our abysmal graduation rates are well documented and often discussed.
By all accounts, the child at the center of this recent discussion is on track to avoid becoming one of those statistics. From outward appearances, his parents have given him all of the advantages—a loving home and a commitment to education. Sadly, the school is imposing an unnecessary punishment on this child, and we – as New Mexicans – can’t look the other way.
The 2010 Kids Count report estimates that 11% of children in New Mexico – a full one in 10 – are living with two moms or two dads. That is the same percentage of those living only with one dad. Combined with children living only with mom, a full 40% of our children live in family types virtually unheard of just 50 years ago.
Children today will encounter peers from a wide range of backgrounds and families, and we must teach them the principles of treating other with respect. Like the school’s own application recognizes, the family dynamic is changing. We will do well to remember that each family matters in the life of a child.
Footnotes for above article:
 Patterson, C.J., 2005. Lesbian and gay parents
and their children: summary of research ﬁndings. In: Lesbian and Gay Parenting.
American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
 Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010, Kids Count Report, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?loct=2&by=v&order=d&ind=43&dtm=322&tf=133
Saturday, September 10, 2011
9/17: Westside Forum in Rio Rancho Presents 'A Call to Advocacy' with Progressive Activist Holly Beaumont
From Doug Long, Westside Forum:
Progressive activist Holly Beaumont will present "A Call to Advocacy: How We Can and Must Work Together to Shape Public Policy." The event will take place on Saturday, September 17, at 3:00 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo Rd., in Rio Rancho.
Dr. Beaumont is the Organizing Director of Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico. She has been working for justice in New Mexico for 25 years.
The event is free, and all are welcome. Presented by Westside Forum.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
9/8 Immigrant Day of Action: Protest Gov. Martinez's Endless Attacks on Families, Driver's Licenses
From Somos Un Pueblo Unido:
IMMIGRANT DAY OF ACTION
Protest the Governor's Endless Attacks
on our Families and Driver's Licenses
Thursday, September 8th, at 12:00 PM
In Front of the State Capitol
Click for Flyer
Sponsored by: New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, LULAC, Engaging Latinos for Education, ABQ Partnership for Community Action and Somos Un Pueblo Unido. For more information, become a friend of Somos Un Pueblo Unido on Facebook.
Monday, August 08, 2011
8/14: West Side Rainbow Youth Gay-Straight Alliance Fall Kickoff With Pizza and Movie in Rio Rancho
From Doug Long, UU Westside:
The Rainbow Youth Gay Straight Alliance is having their Fall Kick-Off meeting on Sunday, August 14, at 6:30 PM. There will be free pizza and a movie. All youth aged 14-18 who are accepting of gay and straight people are welcome to come. Come meet new friends and be part of interesting projects. The group meets at the Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo Road (about a mile west of Unser Blvd, near the corner of Abrazo and Inca) in Rio Rancho.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Bill McCamley: Why I Will Miss Bishop Ricardo Ramirez
This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley, who is a resident of Las Cruces. He is a former Doña Ana County Commissioner and is currently the Business Outreach Director for ROJO Apparel, a socially responsible clothing company.
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
--St Francis of Assisi
This week, ceremonies commemorating the beginning of a local reading initiative were held at NMSU. Interested people from many walks of life showed up to lend their support, including educators, University administration, politicians, and volunteers who would then donate their morning to read with children.
One of the speakers was Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, and his blessing included why the ability to read was so important in understanding the power of God’s love. While his statements were short and expected, they were also profound and exemplified why he will be sorely missed by all of Southern New Mexico when he retires in the near future.
We have many statements echoing the one given at the beginning of this column. From “actions speak louder than words” to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” society honors those who not only speak well, but lead with the very being of their lives. Bishop Ramirez is one of those people.
While many leaders of faith spend time addressing politically charged, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, Bishop Ramirez focuses most of his attention and energy on helping those in our community who have the least voice.
His yearly masses at Mt. Cristo Rey on the border between Mexico and the United States, where at 74 years old he still makes the ascent on foot with everyone else, have always symbolized his advocacy for the basic rights for all people, no matter their nationality. He is known for numerous writings and teachings continually explaining not only how issues such as poverty and a lack of quality health care negatively affect those less fortunate but also what we can do to alleviate them. Specifically, two pastoral letters he authored regarding domestic violence and child abuse are widely recognized internationally as brave and insightful pieces addressing issues that few in the Catholic Church had previously discussed openly.
As a County Commissioner I sat on a committee dealing with colonias, communities in our area where the poorest of the poor live. The Catholic Diocese has been represented on this group for years, and it was obvious by the attention, staff, and resources given to this work by the Diocese’s Department of Social Ministries that helping people with the most basic of needs was one of Bishop Ramirez’s top priorities.
In these actions, he truly echoes the teachings of Christ, who said, “Whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me."
In some cases, religious leaders use emotions like fear or guilt in their preaching. This is not a practice with Bishop Ramirez. His sermons never insult or degrade, always appealing to the better angels of human nature and seeking to kindle understanding, kindness, and peace in the community. Statements, blessings, and writings from the Bishop will always contain an abundance of words like love, patience, grace, and forgiveness. And when leading public invocations, he is always as inclusive as possible in showing respect to everyone’s beliefs.
His words reflect his constant efforts to overcome borders, both physical and metaphorical, and never to create them.
In my first year as a County Commissioner, as Chairman, I faced an issue regarding prayers said before meetings. It had been the Commission’s practice for a representative of only one type of religious viewpoint to lead the prayers, and sometimes these presentations turned into mini-sermons. I believe strongly that no government agency should ever be used as a tool to influence faith, as someone’s bond with God is one of the most important definitions one can have as an individual. Therefore, I asked that the issue be discussed. However, dealing with this emotionally-charged topic was an extremely hard thing for a 27 year-old, brand new policy maker. So I called Bishop Ramirez.
To be up front, though I was raised Catholic I am not a regular churchgoer, finding that I can expand my own relationship with God in other ways. Even recognizing this, he took my appointment and spent a great deal of time discussing the topic. He is a wonderful listener and, when he did speak, his input showed understanding, insightfulness, and helped me garner a larger perspective regarding the issue that had not previously been clear.
Apparently, making the effort to discuss and understand difficult issues is far from uncommon for Bishop Ramirez. His reputation for tolerance, wisdom, and compassion is commonplace throughout our community, as these words are echoed about him from people of many faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
As a child, I was always taught that God was the ultimate repository of unquestioning love, constant forgiveness, and universal understanding. If the job of a cleric (be it priest, reverend, rabbi, or imam) is to represent and teach those values to others, then God could ask for no better than Ricardo Ramirez. Our entire community has been strengthened by his presence, and I can only hope that others will work to emulate his actions, message, and disposition.
Bishop, I am sure that I echo many others in wishing you nothing but the best. Thank you for choosing to stay with us, and enjoy your deserved rest.
This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily mean that we agree or disagree with the points made.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
4/21: UUA President to Speak in Albuquerque on Immigration as a Moral Issue
From First Unitarian: On Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM, the Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will visit Albuquerque to kick off a 14-month campaign of study and action on immigration policy and practices at First Unitarian, part of the denomination’s nationwide focus on immigration as a moral issue. The event is open to the public.
Rev. Morales will give a talk about "Immigration as a Moral Issue" at the First Unitarian Church, located at 3701 Carlisle Blvd. NE, in Albuquerque at 7:00 PM. There will be live music and a reception generously hosted by the Penguin Family.
“We are not engaged in a political struggle. The issue of immigration is not ultimately about public policy. This is a struggle for our nation’s soul,” Morales says.
The denomination is holding its annual General Assembly as a Social Justice assembly in Phoenix, AZ in June 2012, with the issue of immigration front and center. Several thousand are expected to attend.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
4/17: NM Interfaith Power and Light Hosts Serenade for Mother Earth
From New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light (NMIPL):
NMIPL will host its second annual Serenade for Mother Earth on Sunday, April 17, at 3:00 PM at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montano NW in Albuquerque. The concert will feature the lively music of the Celtic Coyotes, several string ensembles, classical selections played by a talented young pianist, and two pieces arranged for bagpipes and organ.
There will be no charge for admission to the performance, but a freewill offering will benefit New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light, a statewide coalition of more than one hundred and fifty faith communities committed to creation care.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
4/16: Workshop on Teens and Violence in Schools and the Community
From Doug Long, Westside Forum:
A special workshop on "Teens and Violence in Schools and the Community" will be presented by Dr. Linda Menzel on Saturday, April 16, at 3:00 PM. The workshop will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation located at 1650 Abrazo Road (about a mile west of Unser Blvd, near the corner of Abrazo and Inca) in Rio Rancho. This Westside Forum event is free, and all are welcome.
Information will be provided on what causes bullying and violence among teens and what can be done to reduce it. There will also be a panel discussion on teen violence and bullying. Assisting Dr. Menzel will be a teen panel of Peer Educators from Cleveland High School.
Dr. Menzel has worked as an educator and therapist for 30 years. She currently works at Cleveland High School and is the sponsor of the Peer Education Program.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Sunday 4/3: Join A Celebration of Workers in Santa Fe
Join us for
A Celebration of Workers
and the contributions workers make to raise our families, to support our communities and to build this nation. We will thank those who stand up for working families of New Mexico.
Sunday, April 3rd, at 4 PM
at St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe
at the corner of San Mateo and South St. Francis Drive
Featuring State Senator Peter Wirth,
Miles Conway, Communications Workers of America,
City Councilor Carmichael Dominques,
and other community leaders.
IF YOU HAVE A JOB, YOU ARE A WORKER: Teachers, students and principals, soldiers and veterans, nurses, technicians, dentists and doctors, managers and clerks, shopkeepers and cashiers, carpenters, roofers, painters, construction workers and custodians, farmers and ranch workers, waiters, dishwashers and chefs, police, prison and security guards, firefighters, bus, taxi and truck drivers and EMTs, secretaries and bookkeepers, housekeepers and realtors, film makers, artists and musicians, health, child and elder care workers, mail and newspaper carriers, reporters and librarians, advocates and therapists, parents and grandparents, attorneys and clergy ... and more.
OUR RIGHTS, WAGES, BENEFITS AND HOPES ARE VANISHING. Workers have demonstrated that we are willing to be part of the solution, but we cannot allow budget deficits to be put on the backs of New Mexico's working families.
The program begins with a gathering in the sanctuary for a welcome by the Reverend Richard Murphy and music by Charlie Pineda Following the program, there will be a special showing of the award winning documentary AT THE RIVER I STAND (56 minutes) about the 1968 strike by sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, which became—tragically—one of the most important events of the civil rights movements when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4th. It also tells the story of how the national leadership of AFSCME put the international union's full resources behind the strike. In workers history, this strike has achieved an almost mythical quality. It proved that the civil rights and workers rights movements could be merged.
This event has been planned to coincide with the April 4th National Day of Action by a coalition of faith and worker's rights organizations, including the AFL/CIO, NAACP, and Interfaith Worker Justice ... in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the sanitation workers of Memphis. If your faith group or organization would like to co-sponsor this event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be listed.
(This message is sponsored by Interfaith Worker Justice - NM. You are invited to visit our national website to download resources individually and to access other faith-based statements on the right to organize.)
For more information, contact The Rev. Holly Beaumont, D. Min., Organizing Director, Interfaith Worker Justice - NM, PO Box 23468, Santa Fe, NM 87502, 505-660-5018, email@example.com, http://www.iwj.org,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
3/27: Meeting of Gay/Straight Alliance at UU Westside Congregation
From Gay/Straight Alliance:
"Tell YOUR Story!" The Rainbow Youth Gay/Straight Alliance will meet on Sunday, March 27, at 6:30 PM. All youth aged 14-18 are welcome to come (parents are welcome, too -- our minister will be available to talk with them). We'll talk about who we are and what it's like to be us, and you can also read poetry, show your art, or listen. You'll be heard. Meet new friends. We'll have pizza and pop.
It will be at the Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo Road (about a mile west of Unser Blvd., near the corner of Abrazo and Inca) in Rio Rancho.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
2/20: New Gay-Straight Alliance Forming in Rio Rancho
From Doug Long, UUWC:
The Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation (UUWC) in Rio Rancho is starting a gay-straight alliance. The first meeting of the "The Rainbow Youth Gay/Straight Alliance" will meet on Sunday, February 20, at 6:30 PM. All youth aged 14-18 are welcome to come (parents are welcome, too - the Congregation's minister will be available to talk with them).
The first meeting will be a meet-up/get to know each other meeting, and we'll have pizza and pop. It will be at Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo Rd. (about a mile west of Unser Blvd, near the corner of Abrazo and Inca) in Rio Rancho.
Please pass along this info to those who might be interested. We really need to get the word out to enough teens so that this group can get off the ground.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
1/18: A Litany, Witness for the People in the Roundhouse Rotunda
Please join The Reverend Holly Beaumont, D.Min., Organizing Director of Interfaith Worker Justice - NM, in the Rotunda of the Roundhouse on opening day of 2011 New Mexico State Legislative Session from 11:00 AM to Noon on Tuesday, January 18, for A Litany: Witness for the People. The Litany is co-sponsored by Interfaith Worker Justice – NM, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – NM, St. Bede's Episcopal Church Justice and Peace Committee, Christ Lutheran Church of Santa Fe, NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, NM Interfaith Power and Light, Tewa Women United and Santa Fe People for Peace. A Litany consists of a series of supplications with responses by those gathered.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-660-5018. PLEASE FORWARD, plan to attend, consider co-sponsoring this event, adding your logo to the program, hang a banner in the rotunda or provide table materials.