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Faith & Reparations Toolkit

Dear Friends and Faith Partners,

I bring you New Year’s greetings from the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI). After several months of labor in love, IM4HI has produced a Faith & Reparations Toolkit for our faith and community partners, faith leaders, congregations, and the general public. The Faith & Reparations Toolkit is a timely and valuable document that can be readily utilized. We invite you to employ the toolkit during February, which earmarks the month-long celebration of African American history.

This February, we celebrate with the people whose descendants built this country with blood, sweat, tears, and free labor. An authentic celebration with our Black brothers and sisters requires that all of us, in particular white people, engage in introspection and Truth-telling. In short, we must come to grips with our nation’s ugly past and the silence and capitulation to the perpetual harms inflicted upon the African American community.

An authentic celebration also means that we must act. We must take concrete and substantive actions to repair the harm and atone these past and present injustices. The Faith & Reparation Toolkit recommends ways for congregations, faith leaders, and individuals to start now and move toward mending the past, healing the present, and transforming the future.

As the nation celebrates the national holiday in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should pause and consider that the promissory note bequeathed to African Americans in the Declaration of Independence is still in default. The US government has made no substantive monetary compensation or investments on the debt owed to African Americans.

To be sure, our black brothers and sisters need a check. However, African Americans cannot wait for a blank check. Nor should they be pacified with empty promises. Now is the time for African Americans’ just due.

The Reparations Toolkit offers practical guidance and resources for religious and faith communities to engage in spiritual reflection for reparative justice that goes beyond writing a check. There is a broader path to repairing the profound harm done to African Americans. This path is grounded in the spirituality and souls of Black folk. After all, reparation is and must be a Spiritual Practice.

Please accept and engage this toolkit as a gift from IM4HI, and one that, hopefully, will lead to building a “beloved community.”

Rev. Dr. Larry Foy
IM4HI Los Angeles Regional Director

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IM4HI Faith and Race Timeline on Incarceration and Immigration

History— the stories we tell about the events of the past— impacts the way we interpret the events of the present, and the way we shape the events of our future.  The Faith and Race Timeline, created by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, invites us to see the threads and throughlines between the past and the present, and across different impacted communities, to help us identify the patterns of oppression and resistance.

This timeline documents key moments of racial oppression enacted in the United States that laid the tracks for our current immigration and incarceration policies, marking significant moments which criminalize the existence and strategies for survival of indigenous peoples, Black Americans and other communities of color.

This timeline is also about faith, religions, and spiritual values. In creating this timeline we recognize white supremacy’s power to use faith, specifically Christianity, as its tool.  Throughout the timeline, we highlight how religion, as practiced by people of faith, perpetuated racial oppression and racial hierarchy.  At the same time, we also document when persons inspired by their spiritual values were able to sustain life and use it to confront and dismantle racism. 

As people of faith, we recognize that each of us have different work to do towards creating a beloved community, depending on how racism, racial superiority and systemic oppression has impacted us differently.  As people of faith, we invite you to engage with this timeline to learn these histories, as a step toward liberation where all can live with dignity and wholeness.  

There is important work to be done in faith communities towards building multiracial justice and solidarity to eradicate racism and systemic oppression.  We hope this timeline can be a tool towards that end.  

Table of Contents

Use this timeline for personal learning and reflection, in a group setting, or in education and worship contexts. Reflection questions are embedded in the timeline to reflect on faith and race.  We ask that when using any part of the timeline in public settings, please acknowledge “Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity:  Faith and Race Timeline,” and let us know what you think and how you are using it. Please fill out this brief google form to let us know how you are putting it to use.  We will stay in touch with you about additional resources.

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Study Guide: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

On February 4, 2021 IM4HI organized a faith discussion on “the Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This piece was specifically written to the religious community who were criticizing his efforts during the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. We invite you to use this study guide to uncover the ways this piece can shape our organizing today and empower us in this political moment. Within the study guide is a video link to listen to our event speakers like Rev. Larry Foy, faith organizer Hilda Cruz, Rev. Phillip Lawson, and a prayer from Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb. Also enclosed in the study guide are discussion prompts, links to the text, and access to our power point slides.

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