Aug 4, 2014 19:47 Letter: Time, space for worship sacred Letter: Time, space for worship sacred Advocate story Aug. 04, 2014 Comments On Sunday morning, July 20, the sacred time and space of a historic New Orleans congregation was violated. As congregants of First Unitarian Universalist Church, founded in 1833, held a moment of silent prayer to grieve a young woman of the church who had died the previous week, protestors from Operation Save America began to harangue the minister and spew words of hate to and at the congregation. In shock, but with increasing pain as these diatribes continued, the congregation listened quietly as protestors vilified and insulted them. Soon, though, the protestors were ushered out of the church. As this was happening in the sanctuary, other protesters, holding grotesque images, massed around the windows of the church nursery, screaming at the babies and toddlers. Youth were told they were “going to hell” and that their family members were suffering from illness due to their sins. The church members responded by singing words of love, justice and freedom to counteract this hateful rhetoric. For religious communities in the United States, the freedom to worship is a deeply cherished right. Whatever our faith, whenever we worship, the right to worship as we choose was fought for by our ancestors and is vital to all today. Along with this freedom comes the right to disagree, which is one part of the pluralism created by our religious freedom. But all of us agree that no one has the right to desecrate the sacred worship time and space in order to express their disagreement. The undersigned people of faith do not agree on everything. In fact, some of us only agree that we have the right to disagree. But that is enough. No congregation, whatever their views may be, should have their sacred worship time and space violated. Not ever. Not by anybody. I and 39 other local religious leaders by this letter call on the larger community to stand with us, with hearts joined on the side of love and in opposition to religious terrorism. The Rev. Jim VanderWeele New Orleans The Rev. William Barnwell The Rev. Paul Beedle The Rev. Claire Vonk Brooks The Rev. Gary Brooks Pat Bryant, co-moderator, Justice and Beyond The Rev. Callie Winn Crawford Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn The Rev. Jeff Conner The Rev. Rob Courtney The Rev. Don Frampton The Rev. Lauren Frazier-McGuin The Rev. Joann M. Garma Vanessa Gueringer, vice president, A Community Voice Michael G. Hackett, deacon, Diocese of Louisiana The Very Rev. AJ Heine The Rev. Henry L. Hudson The Rev. Eronica C. King Rabbi Ethan Linden Rabbi Robert H. Loewy The Rev. Dr. Jane Mauldin The Rev. Priscilla Maumus The Rev. Herbert McGuin, III Rabbi Barbara Metzger The Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger Max Niedzwiecki, convener Tom Paine, pastor The Rev. Fred Powell, III The Rev. Tony Rigoli, OMI The Rev. Darcy Roake Minister Norbert Rome The Rev. Mitchell Smith Dr. William Soileau The Rev. William H. Terry The Rev. William Thiele, Ph.D. The Rev. Jennie Thomas The Rev. Ron Unger The Rev. Deanna Vandiver The Rev. Tom Watson The Rev. Dwight Webster, Ph. D.