About 100 people gathered outside Planned Parenthood on Feb. 27 to launch the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil/Cassy Benefield -SpokaneFāVS

We’ve heard you outside Planned Parenthood. Now will you listen to me?

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By Andy CastroLang

In response to the Church at Planned Parenthood, a weekly gathering of anti-abortion activists who worship outside of the health clinic’s walls, the City Council voted Monday to adopt new protections for local health care facilities. The bill prohibits activity that interferes with access to a facility or interferes “with the safe and effective delivery of health services within the building.”

The council meeting drew crowds from both sides, including national anti-abortion protestors.

Myself and my husband, Jim, were there in our clerical collars supporting the ordinance. It was tense, full of emotion, anger and judgement.

A man yelled at my husband, “You should be ashamed, take off that collar!”

It’s clear so many of these protestors are horribly deluded by hate and fear.

You don’t know me. I have no idea why you are shouting, or why you are being so insulting to my husband.

Will you ever stop long enough to hear me tell my story?

Will you ever step forward to listen, rather than pontificate?

I have, over the years of my vocation, heard my fill of hateful, slanderous comments about me, my life, my choices…from lots of people like you, who don’t even know me.

I have sat in my office, at coffee shops, in bars, even on airplanes…and you have had your say.

Now listen up:

I worship the God of Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior.  I seek to follow the Jesus Way of loving one’s enemies, seeking justice for the oppressed, providing welcome to those who are lonely, and sharing my time, energy and resources to make the world a more loving and healing place.  I went to college, I went to seminary, and I have been serving Christ’s churches since 1981…because it is my vocation, my calling that has been confirmed in prayer, and through the laying on of hands. Time has tested me and my calling is strong, and real.

I have wonderful children. And grandchildren. And another on the way.  Life is very precious to me. Freedom, and dignity are also precious to me.  Kindness and honesty are precious to me. My loving husband of 35 years is precious to me.

The city I live in, the people I know and the ones I don’t, the libraries and the parks, the churches, mosque, temple, gudwara; and the playgrounds and schools, restaurants and beer joints, even the potholes in the streets, are important to me. We share this city, all of it.

So, I try to be an active citizen, a good neighbor. I stay alert to challenges to our constitutional freedoms, push back against discrimination and violence perpetrated on others.

I want to see our citizens and our city, thriving.

Now. You know a little bit more about me. Just a tiny bit. Will you sit down and share your life with me, openly, humbly?

Do not waste your breath or my time trying to tell me how wrong I am, or slander me with name calling, telling me how I will burn in hell, or how scripture condemns me. I’ve already heard it for years. Such talk has not deterred me from my faithful walk with Jesus, nor my vocation to love, mercy, and justice.

If you want to talk, as one human being to another, each of us a person with inherent dignity and worth, loved by God, children of God…I won’t be hard to find.

But otherwise. Please. Just. Shut. Up.

About Andy CastroLang

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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