OSJ Prayers: October 10, 2018

We remember the Windscale Fire in Cumbria, U.K., of 1957, regarded as the first great nuclear accident, which 61 years ago today set a fire ablaze for three days and released radioactive contaminants into the atmosphere. We pray for weapons to be turned to tools and plowshares, and for our hearts to turn toward peace.

Quebec Premier-Designate to Ban Religious Symbols for Public Servants

François Legault, the premier-designate of Quebec, says he will invoke the notwithstanding clause to work around the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that his government can ban people in positions of authority in the province from wearing religious symbols. The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader said on Tuesday that the plan would prevent public servants, including teachers, police officers, and judges, from wearing religious garments such as the Muslim hijab and Jewish kippah while performing their public functions. It is widely believed that the religious symbols ban is part of a package of policies meant to protect Quebec’s francophone identity. The package of policies also includes a cut in immigration quotas and language and values tests for new arrivals.

God, we lift in prayer this threat to religious freedom in Quebec. We are people marked and shaped by our faith. May we be willing to speak out in defense of people of other faiths, remembering soberly that threats to the religious freedom of one group affects those of any faith group. We pray that people in power might recommit themselves to protect religious freedom for all.

UN Report Depicts Climate Crisis as Early as 2040

A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.” The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty, worsening food shortages and increasing the probability of wildfires.

God, help us to listen, to be willing to respond, to be wise in the face of fear, and to be hopeful even when all seems bleak. Empower our leaders to do the same. You have been a shelter, a provider, a powerful protector of the world you love. Your will be done on earth, Lord.

Migrants in Greece Camp Outside Hoping for Asylum

Hundreds of migrants and refugees have lined up in front of a police station in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, waiting to be arrested so that they can lodge their asylum applications. A few hundred asylum-seekers, many of them from Iraq and Iran, have been sleeping in parks and squares in Thessaloniki for days. They include women and children who sleep on scraps of cardboard laid out on the ground. With winter weather approaching, they are anxious to submit their asylum requests and be transferred to migrant camps. Since countries such as Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary closed their borders to refugees in 2016, around 60,000 asylum seekers have been stuck in limbo in Greece, with efforts to resettle them in other European Union member states stalled.

God, for these human lives, beloved and seen and known by you, we offer prayers for hope, for shelter, for safety. For all who have a role to play in responding to the refugee crisis — the office workers, government staff, everyday citizens, politicians, health care workers, business owners, we pray for compassion and wisdom and courage. For hospitality to break through in Europe, in North America, and around the world, we pray.

Michigan Considers a “Raise the Age” Proposal

Michigan is one of only four states that treat 17-year-old children as though they are adults when they commit crimes — sending them to adult prison and depriving them of youth-focused services that are available to those 16 years old and under. Now lawmakers are considering moving 17-year-olds from the adult to juvenile court system. Supporters say the change is needed to protect juvenile offenders from violence and to reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. Some have expressed concerns that the move will cost poor, cash-strapped counties money they don’t have, as juvenile services are more costly than those for adults, but supporters believe this will create an opportunity to consider other reforms that may be needed to treat offenders, victims, and taxpayers with respect and dignity.

God, we pray for policies to emerge, and ideas to take root, that will continue to prioritize the restoration of people who have been harmed by crime. We pray that victims’ needs will be met. We pray that persons who have committed crimes will be treated humanely. We pray that resources may be used wisely.

Action Alert: Support Immigrants and Oppose Changes to the ‘Public Charge’!

The Trump administration has announced that immigrants in the United States who legally use public benefits such as food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under a new “Public Charge” ruling. The move could force poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between continuing to access programs their families need, and risking the loss of their legal immigration status. Submit a public comment and oppose this ruling!

Raise the Age

Are you in Michigan? If you believe that your state should raise the age for incarcerating teenage offenders, then head over to learn more and sign on to the Raise the Age action, led by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. Sign on today!