RELIGION
01/20/2017 06:17 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2017

Why These People Of Faith Are Marching For Women This Weekend

"Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive."

The Women’s March on Washington emerged as a response to the election of President Donald Trump. But it is also a movement for human rights. According to organizers, the goal of this powerful demonstration is to “affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.”

For religious people, these values also reflect some of the core tenets of their faith. Rabbi Joshua Heschel, who famously stood beside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the march on Selma in 1965, taught: “Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehood. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision.”

Thousands of people of many different faiths (and no faith) will be participating in this weekend’s events in Washington D.C., and in more than 600 marches taking place around the world. They follow in the footsteps of countless activists who have put justice at the forefront of their faith.

HuffPost Religion asked a few people of faith why they were planning to join the march and what concerned them most about Trump’s vision for America. Here’s what they had to say:

Lakhpreet Kaur, 30

Lakhpreet Kaur

Austin, Texas, Freelance writer and editor-in-chief of KaurLife.org

Marching in Austin, Texas

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

Sikh. I find that the principles behind the march are closely aligned with those of the Sikh faith: championing human rights, dignity, and diversity. In Sikhism, we believe that the Divine is within everyone. Thus, we believe in fighting for a just, fair, and compassionate society for all, regardless of social categories. So, I feel that attending this march is my spiritual duty; to stand in solidarity with all those who feel marginalized is an obligation.  

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

What concerns me most is Trump’s hate rhetoric and his demonizing of minorities. I find this can lead to an environment where people are not valued as human beings and do not feel physically safe in their own communities. Such rhetoric further normalizes bigotry, which has already lead to increased hate-crimes since the election. My ultimate fear is that our country may be slowly drifting away from democratic values.

 

Edina Lekovic, 39

Edina Lekovic

Pasadena, Calif., Community Builder

Marching in Los Angeles with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Center of Southern California, and two interfaith women’s groups

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I’m Muslim, and being a feminist, being for gender equality and for promoting women’s liberation, is central to the founding days of Islam and the Quran. My faith, and the faith of the women and men I’ll be marching with from my communities, bind us together to fight for our shared liberation.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

The very foundation of our democracy ― our Constitutional values ― is under threat as a result of Mr. Trump. Donald Trump has shown no curiosity about any of the communities he has targeted with hate and lies for decades ― whether it’s women, immigrants, African Americans or those who are Muslim. His incessant war of words and looming policies present a major threat to the safety and well-being of more than half of Americans who fall under these categories. Central to his attack on America is his attempts to re-define who is American ― to exclude those who make up the rich diversity which makes our country great.

 

Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, 75

Larry Greenfield

Chicago, Ill., Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

Marching in Chicago with The Parliament of the World’s Religions

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I’m an American Baptist, and that plays a HUGE role, as well as my participation in the interfaith movement. I believe in the importance of freedom and equality in both religious and civic life.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

What concerns me most is his commitment to degradation ― of women, Muslims, anybody who isn’t in his camp. It’s a whole mentality of degradation for his elevation. It is the exact opposite of what we need in a democracy in terms of leadership. Leadership is the lowering of self for the elevation of the many. He just has it completely backwards on seemingly every issue. It’s not “America First,” it’s the world first. He is challenging the whole historical movement toward greater equality and greater freedom (gender, sex, race, economics, religion, it’s across the board.) It’s reversionary policies to a period of inequality, of oppression, of bullying, of xenophobia, of fear. 

 

Riham Osman, 25

Riham Osman

Herndon, Va., Digital Media Strategist

Marching in Washington D.C. on behalf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

As a Muslim woman, I feel that is is my duty to march shoulder to shoulder with women and those of other faiths. My faith plays a vital role in my decision to stand up against the injustices we may see with the policies and ideologies of the incoming administration. I’m joining this march because it’s empowering for me, and Islam teaches me that I can’t just sit on the sidelines and play the role of the victim by doing nothing.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I’m most concerned about Donald Trump’s unpredictability. As the new president, he generally lacks policy experience, knowledge on various issues and what truly concerns me is that as of now, he doesn’t appear to be open to engaging with minority communities or hearing different opinions. Trump’s Muslim ban proposal is one of my major concerns because the leader of our country is scapegoating an entire community because we worship differently. This is what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany and to Japanese Americans when they were placed in internment camps not too long ago. We’re headed into dangerous territory, and I am worried about what could potentially come if this policy became a reality.

 

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, 57

Jacqui Lewis

New York, N.Y., Clergy and Public Theologian 

Marching in Washington D.C. on behalf of Middle Collegiate Church

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am a Progressive Presbyterian clergy and womanist theologian. Women, Muslims, the poor, Immigrants, LGBTQ, all religious minorities and Black Lives matter. I march for this truth. I am with them.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

Mr. Trump is only consistent in his reckless disregard for anything besides winning. Without a compassionate, humane and moral center, his leadership threatens our democracy and the well-being of the vulnerable. Resisting the discrimination he practices is an act of faith.

 

Dr. Noor Hashem, 32

Noor Hashem

Boston, Mass., PhD in English Literature

Marching in Boston with her infant daughter and two groups of Muslim and non-Muslim women

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

Islam. It is one of the primary reasons I decided to march ― my faith calls me to speak out against oppression, when it is done to me or to anyone else. Trump’s rhetoric and promised actions are threatening to me and other vulnerable communities who I want to be an ally for.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

There is no one thing. What concerns me about Trump is the entire package. His gross classism while he pretends to cater to the working class; his hate speech and action items against vulnerable communities, including Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, the differently-abled, refugees, women, you name it; the way he has made hate speech and violent hate crimes acceptable; his disregard and disdain for nuance, sophistication, intellectual thought, scientific fact and considered reason; his appointment of cronies who will forward his own business interests...I could go on.

 

Rose Marie Berger, 52

Photo: Rick Reinhard

Washington D.C., Senior associate editor at Sojourners magazine

Marching in Washington D.C. with Sojourners, Swamp Revolt, and members of the U.S. faith community

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am a Roman Catholic lay woman. My faith has motivated me to stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted by President Trump and his administration. Pope Francis said that the “life of a Christian ought to be courageous.” He warned Christians not to be “parked Christians,” who have found the church lot and then just safely stay there waiting for the end. I’m trying to be a courageous Catholic.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

My neighbors in Washington D.C. who are immigrants tell me they are very afraid. They are harassed in the grocery store, in the taxi, on the bus. Our churches are organizing in immigrant communities in anticipation of increased ICE raids and the repeal of the DACA/DAPA executive action. I’m very concerned about what will happen to police accountability, training, and oversight under a new director of the Department of Justice. And I don’t want my nieces and nephews to learn behavior from a president who insults, bullies, harasses, and is vindictive.

  

Dhumavati Jaya, 55

Dhumavati Jaya

Sebastian, Fla., Marketing Director

Marching in Washington D.C. with the United Religions Initiative

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am an interfaith Hindu Swami and one of my vows was to take care of people, all people! Therefore I am marching to show support for women’s rights and human rights, which my guru, Ma Jaya, did for years in particular support of the LGBT community and those with HIV/AIDS. I live in a community that honors the Mother and as such women’s rights are particularly important to me. I am also a lesbian and care deeply about LGBT rights.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I think that the rhetoric of the elections and the choices of cabinet members being made by the new president have potential for great and unnecessary human suffering. It starts in the U.S., but it has already begun to affect and influence the whole world. It is a message that says that money and power are more important than people or basic human rights.  

 

Joseph Gindi, 36

Joseph Gindi

Brooklyn, N.Y., Jewish Educator

Marching in New York City as part of American Jewish World Service

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am marching as a Jew who supports women around the world, and liberty and equality for all. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community, where I saw firsthand how important it is to fight for women’s autonomy. I became a feminist at age 12, when I learned my aunt would not be allowed to speak at her mother’s funeral because of her gender. The memory of this basic unfairness has stayed with me as I have worked to build a Judaism and a Jewish community that supports the liberation of all people. The Jewish tradition considers humans to be created in the image of God and thus deserving of infinite dignity and respect. I am marching as a Jew because it is important for the world to know that the faith community supports women’s rights and the rights of all people.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I am most concerned by Donald Trump’s autocratic tendencies, by his dismissal of the basic traditions and norms that allow our democracy to function. Beyond that, I am worried about what a turn away from human rights and development is going to mean for the most vulnerable people in the world. The U.S. has tremendous global power. If we are not setting the standard for global human rights, then autocrats around the world will be emboldened. 

 

Dr. Anna Lewis

CRT

St. Petersburg, Fla., Science educator and program manager

Marching in Washington D.C. with the Center for Religious Tolerance

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I was raised a Catholic, however my faith and spiritual experiences have expanded beyond the confines of one religion to see the beauty, truth, and reality of all religions. My spirituality played a role in my going to the march in the sense that I believe in the rights and freedoms for ALL Americans – ALL people everywhere – and that it is my place to stand against those who might take those rights and freedoms away.  

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I’m afraid I can’t pin-point just one thing that bothers me about Trump. In truth, I’m more concerned with all those who stand for or behind him. When a whole group of people agree and support intolerance, hatred, mean-spiritedness and ignorance (i.e. inability to see or accept facts), well then we must call them out.

 

Linda L. Crawford

Interfaith Center at the Presidio

San Francisco, Calif., Executive Dir. Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Marching in Washington D.C.

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I was brought up Methodist, became Episcopalian and consider myself a progressive Christian. When Jesus “consorted” with Samaritans, lepers, etc. he sent a message to us all to embrace the “other.” As the director of an interfaith organization, my professional and personal interests are in working to help mitigate religiously-motivated violence, to respond to hate crimes against anyone marginalized and to help educate as many people as possible about the different faith traditions, including atheism, agnosticism and humanism.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

Where do I start? I don’t agree with anything he espouses or his cabinet choices. He’s totally unfit to be president, and more than half of America agree with me. There’s so much to fight for, but to prioritize, if we let the planet go or if there becomes a nuclear “option,” we won’t have anything to fight for. But second, on a day-to-day basis, we must fight for social justice ― religious, racial, ethnic, gender. 

 

Roberta Roos, 76

Roberta Roos

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Retired attorney

Marching in New York City with the Woodlands Community Temple and Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am part of the Reform Jewish community, and I think it played a very large part in my decision to join the march because of its emphasis on values. One of my heroes is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In marching at Selma, he prayed with his feet. I want to do that too. As a result, I have mobilized my synagogue’s contingent in the Women’s March on NYC – we have over 130 signed up to march behind our banner.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I’m concerned about most of his policies – but I have been through this before with other presidents. Now, however, my concern is of something larger than any one particular policy. It is his failure to recognize the innate dignity in each human being and the lack of respect that he displays for people he disagrees with. We are a country of diverse people. The only way this diversity can work is if we can really listen to and hear the other person even when we disagree.

If I had to choose one specific issue about which I worry most it is immigration. I worry that Donald Trump’s lack of understanding of Islam and Muslims will result in more Syrian refugee children dying.

 

Mica McGriggs, 26

MM

Seattle, Wash., PhD Candidate Counseling Psychology, Clinical Resident

Marching in Seattle

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I am Mormon, practiced through womanist liberation theology lens. Christ stood with the marginalized. His work was rooted in social justice and equity; I try to live my life in such a way that it reflects those values. The act of marching is materializing my theological values.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

Trump ran on a platform built on every single system counter to the doctrine of Christ. White-supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism, heteronormativity, were the war cries of his campaign. Not only do these systems enforce the polarization of power and oppression, the policies that are birthed from those systems threaten the physical and psychological safety of millions of Americans. I don’t know if I am more worried that he now holds the highest office in our nation or that millions of Americans support reifying and enforcing the systems built on hatred and fear.

 

Judy Fleischman, 52

ZenStreets Sister Sanghas Berkeley Zen Center EverydayZen Foundation and Mindful Peacebuilding

Berkeley, Calif., Healthcare Chaplain

Marching in Oakland with Zen Streets and Sister Sanghas

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

As a Zen priest and as an artist, I have vowed to show up with creative sparkle, which affirms our shared humanity. Walking together, we are offering this, reclaiming a welcoming vision of love. This is also my practice as a Jew, as one committed to loving my neighbor as myself or as so many people of faith are saying now, let love be our legacy.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

My biggest concern is the culture of fear that pervaded his campaign and which his presidency is feeding. Fear is consuming the country as it is fueled by an escalating pattern of dehumanizing anyone voicing dissent. To equally fear a spirit of open inquiry and especially science, while also fearing anyone who doesn’t look or act like those in one’s particular tribe is a failure of imagination, for it fails to recognize our shared humanity and so our shared journey. My cause then is to work to calm the fearful mind and heart pervading this country by ensuring the right to voice dissent, non-violently, so there is opportunity to meet fear with caring and creative responses. That is the best way I see to protect our loved ones and our planet with reverence for all life.

 

Carolyn Roncolato, 33

Carolyn Roncolato

Chicago, Ill., Higher education consultant at Interfaith Youth Core

Marching in Chicago

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

As a United Methodist Christian, I am motivated by my religious tradition and theology to join the march on Saturday. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus shows us that God stands with, is one of, and understands the reality of those who are marginalized. In our society, this includes people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTIQ people, and the economically marginalized. God is present where these communities gather, resist, tell stories, and struggle, and God calls us to be there too.

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I am scared about the world that this administration will create for my African American son. I am deeply worried by the legitimation of racism and violence against people of color. I am worried about the precedent for violence against women set by Trump and his cabinet.  I am worried for non-Christian religious people and communities, particularly by Trump’s talk of creating a Muslim registry. I am worried for the environment. Without very intentional and diligent work, ongoing climate change will continue to lead to decreased resources and increased natural disasters that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

 

Miriam T. Chilton, 55

Miriam T Chilton / Union for Reform Judaism

Montclair, N.J., Executive at Union for Reform Judaism

Marching in Washington D.C.

What is your faith background and what role did it play in your decision to join the march?

I feel compelled to march to show as a Reform Jewish woman that my voice matters and that I have an obligation to stand up and work for a more just, whole, and compassionate world. This is not my first march on Washington. I have marched against nuclear arms, I have marched to support a woman’s right to choose, and I have marched for equality. I march today to protect the advances we have made and to renew my efforts to ensure equality, freedom, and dignity for all in our beautifully diverse country. 

What is it about Trump that concerns you the most?

I believe what makes our country great is the democratic process, which continuously strives to actualize the ideals our nation was founded on, and I will work hard to ensure that process remains representative and inclusive of all Americans. Regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, all citizens should have full protection and recognition under the law and have full and equal access to society.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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