OGR Blog

June 19, 2020

The Episcopal Church has long advocated for legislation that protects Dreamers and offers a pathway to citizenship. Through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows those brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country without fear of deportation, nearly 800,000 Dreamers have come forward, passed background checks, and been granted permission to live and work legally in the U.S. Ending DACA in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic would be detrimental to the health and safety of families and communities around the country.

“At this time, the Dream Act is pending before the Congress of the United States,” said Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry.  “I’m asking you as Episcopalians, as people of good will and faith, to write and call members of Congress who represent you to support this Dream Act.”

 

For more than a decade, The Episcopal Church has called for a pathway to citizenship for immigrant young people. As the U.S. and other countries are continuing to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, so many are being called to work on the front lines, including Dreamers. It is more critical than ever for Congress to pass legislation to protect this vulnerable group working and living in the U.S. and to allow these members of our communities, many with U.S. citizen children and family members, to remain in the country without fear of deportation.   

“As the prophet said in the Hebrew scriptures, ‘What does the lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ The Dream Act can actually help us to do that in our time,” said Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry.

Respond to Bishop Curry’s call to action by writing Congress through the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s easy to use action alert system.

About the Office of Government Relations:
The Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. We aim to shape and influence policy and legislation on critical issues, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally. All policy positions are based on General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, the legislative and governing bodies of the Church.

About Episcopal Migration Ministries:
Episcopal Migration Ministries, in addition to its long-standing work in refugee resettlement, is The Episcopal Church’s ministry network for collaboration, education, and advocacy about migration. To directly support EMM, visit www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/give or text ‘EMM’ to 41444 (standard messaging and data may rates apply).

The Episcopal Church has long advocated for legislation that protects Dreamers and offers a pathway to citizenship. Through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows those brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the...
June 16, 2020

9 actions you can take today to learn about and address police violence in your communities

Recently, The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council passed resolutions addressing the issue of police violence and police reform, and reaffirmed General Convention Resolution 2018-A229, in which the Church “condemns the improper and violent actions of authorities against people of color." The Executive Council urges the Church to work for transformation of the criminal justice system at the federal, state, regional, and local level, including by enacting substantial police reforms.

Take action, joining with Episcopalians around the world, using the resources below:

  1. Write your members of Congress in support of legislation that include these needed changes. 
  2. Contact your state legislators to learn about reform efforts at the state level. States are working to enact major change and may be able to address specific issues you make them aware of. This can be done by visiting your states’ legislature page
  3. Learn about your local law enforcement: What is its jurisdiction? Who controls funding and provides oversight? What is the racial make-up of the police force? Do they live in the communities they serve? 
  4. Contact your local Mayor and Sheriff’s Office as well as your city council to ask them to implement policies to end police violence.  
    1. Example: The Greenville Citizen Advisory Panel on Public Safety was established by the mayor in response to calls from protest organizers, which they called #8CantWait recommendations. The panel will provide for a permanent community voice in policing oversight and is tasked with evaluating the implementation of use- of- force policies. 
  5. Engage in anti-racism training to better equip yourself for civic participation. 
  6. Attend “Reimagining Police: A 3-Part Series” by the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing. Register here
  7. Learn about and connect with organizations working on police reform in your city and municipality.  
    1. Examples: The Minneapolis 911 Working Group and other organizations are working with city council members on the city’s budget to prioritize community initiatives on health and safety. The Georgia NAACP is supporting comprehensive reforms to the state legal code through protests, education, and advocacy in the state legislature.   
  8. Learn, Pray, Act Resources: for Addressing Racist Violence and Police Brutality 
    1. Act: Ferguson, MO, report on community-based efforts to hold law enforcement accountable  
  9. Engage in ongoing advocacy around social support services on access to food, homelessness, support for mental health, and other components of the social safety net that reflect the priority needs of communities.  See OGR Action Alerts on priority areas for support – especially to address systemic racism. 

The Episcopal Church continues to commit to addressing police violence and discrimination by advocating for alternatives to deadly force, taking action to eliminate racism, and supporting the civil rights of those who have disabilities in interactions with law enforcement. 

Beyond the immediate efforts of police reform, the Church has longstanding policy urging adequate investment in our communities, including investment in education, support for those facing homelessness or housing instabilityaccess to food, and making reforms to end the school-to-prison pipeline. These are all crucial aspects of dismantling systemic racism and ensuring that our communities are safe so all people are able to flourish.

Learn more:

Many police reform policies have already yielded positive results in some localities. For instance, community oversight of police departments has been shown to help bolster the public’s confidence in them, boost cooperation, and make communities safer for all.  For police departments that continue to use excessive force, federal oversight has been shown to reduce the use of force and compel police unions to accept changes to policing. Many cities and states are currently working to ban or severely curtail the use of chokeholds, particularly those that restrict breathing. 

9 actions you can take today to learn about and address police violence in your communities Recently, The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council passed resolutions addressing the issue of police violence and police reform, and reaffirmed General...
June 3, 2020

Siblings: God commands us through Jesus Christ to love one another. In baptism, we promise to €œseek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. Let us now honor those vows and pray for our nation in this election season, for wise and just leaders, and for the needs of others throughout our country and the world.

We pray for continued blessings on all peacemakers, on leaders who value peace, and on everyone who promotes nonviolent solutions to conflict. We pray for a speedy end to all violence and warfare around the world.

God of peace and gentleness,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the strength of heart and mind to look beyond ourselves and address the needs of our siblings throughout the world; for the rural and urban poor; for the rebuilding of our communities; and for an end to the cycles of violence that threaten our future.

God of generosity and compassion,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all nations, that they may live in unity, peace, and concord; and that all people may know justice and enjoy the perfect freedom that only God can give.

God of liberty and freedom,
Hear our prayer.

We pray that the Holy Spirit may embrace the most vulnerable members of our society; we pray also for an end to the growing disparity between the rich and poor; and for the grace and courage to strive for economic justice.

God of all gifts and blessings,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for an end to prejudice throughout our country and the world; that we will respect all people as precious children of God; and that racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination will be forever banished from our hearts, our society, and our laws.

God of fellowship and equality,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for a reverence of creation; that we will have the tools and the will to conserve it; that we will use its bountiful resources in the service of others; and that we will become better stewards of all that has been entrusted to us.

God of nature and the universe,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all immigrants, refugees, and pilgrims from around the world, that they may be welcomed in our midst and be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.

God of outcasts and wanderers,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the sick, the aged and the infirm; for those with physical or mental disabilities; that all may have access to proper health care; and that God's loving embrace may be felt by all who suffer.

God of comfort and healing,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all prisoners and captives; that a spirit of forgiveness may replace vengeance and retribution; and that we, with all the destitute, lonely, and oppressed, may be restored to the fullness of God's grace.

God of absolution and mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all children and families, and particularly for the orphaned, neglected, abused, and those who live in fear of violence or disease; that they may be relieved and protected.

God of children and families,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the reconciliation of all people, and for the Church throughout the world, that it may be an instrument of your healing love.

God of outreach and restoration,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have died as a result of violence, war, disease or famine, especially those who died because of human blindness, neglect, or hardness of heart.

God of eternal life and resurrecting love,
Hear our prayer.

Almighty God, you have promised to hear what we ask in the name of your Son. Watch over our country now and in the days ahead, guide our leaders and all who will vote, guide them in all knowledge and truth and make your ways known among all people. In the passion of debate give them a quiet spirit; in the complexities of the issues give them courageous hearts. Accept and fulfill our petitions, we pray, not as we ask in our ignorance, nor as we deserve in our sinfulness, but as you know and love us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

AMEN.

Siblings: God commands us through Jesus Christ to love one another. In baptism, we promise to €œseek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human...
June 2, 2020

The Episcopal Church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care and the Office of Government Relations assembled resources to assist individuals, congregations and communities seeking to LEARN, PRAY and ACT. We hope you find these useful, and we encourage you to make your voice heard in all the ways you are able to.

 

LEARN, PRAY, ACT: Resources for Addressing Racist Violence and Police Brutality

The Episcopal Church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care and the Office of Government Relations assembled resources to assist individuals, congregations and communities seeking to LEARN, PRAY and ACT. We hope you find these...
May 27, 2020

Malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest infectious diseases in the world today. While it has been eradicated in many parts of the world, malaria remains endemic in poor tropical and subtropical areas, especially where climatic factors such as humidity, temperature, and rainfall make it easier for Anopheles mosquitoes to thrive. People living in poverty and other vulnerable populations are at the greatest risk of dying from malaria.

The Episcopal Church has been involved in the work to reduce the burden of malaria in a variety of ways. We respond to our call to care for the world’s most vulnerable – many of whom are at high risk of malaria, including children and pregnant women, who are most likely to die from the illness. We partner with Anglicans around the world to eradicate this disease from communities it harms. In 2003 and 2018, the General Convention endorsed international goals that include combating malaria globally and tasked the Office of Government Relations (OGR) with ensuring that the U.S. government meets its commitment. OGR works with ecumenical, global health, and Anglican Communion partners to advocate for robust and sustainable bilateral and multilateral malaria programs, including ensuring that Congress appropriates needed funds every year.

In 2018, OGR partnered with Friends of the Global Fight and the J.C. Flowers Foundation to facilitate advocacy meetings for Anglican bishops from Africa who met with members of Congress and other policymakers to discuss ways Anglican churches are responding on the ground and to make the case for continued U.S. government support. Through its NetsforLife® program, Episcopal Relief and Development works with local partners to promote the use of bed nets to prevent malaria. The J.C. Flowers Foundation continues to support malaria elimination efforts through the Isdell:Flowers Cross-Border Malaria Initiative, which partners with religious communities, governments, and other organizations to deliver malaria education, preventive, and treatment services.

Increased efforts to prevent, mitigate, and eradicate malaria over the past twenty years have led to significant progress. Global malaria mortality rates have decreased by 60 percent since 2000. As the 2019 World Malaria report shows, between 2010 and 2018, the malaria incidence rate declined from 71 to 57 cases per 1000. Yet, many challenges remain. The report also shows that malaria continues to kill over 400,000 people annually, and hundreds of millions of people are affected each year. Other challenges include drug and insecticide resistance as well as stalled progress in some affected countries, which complicates efforts to eradicate the disease.

Consider these statistics:

The U.S. government has been involved in the global fight against malaria since the 1950s as part of its development and relief work, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2005, President George W. Bush launched the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to streamline U.S. bilateral malaria efforts with the goal of reducing the malaria mortality rate in heavily impacted countries by half. The U.S. is also involved through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a public-private organization that provides 65 percent of all international funding for malaria control and research programs.

The international community has set the goal of eliminating malaria by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development agenda. This will require greater coordination, political will, and financial commitment from governments and non-governmental stakeholders. As the largest financial donor to malaria programs and contributor of technical expertise, the U.S. has a major role to play in achieving this goal.

Looking ahead, there are growing concerns that the U.S. government will pull back its support for malaria programs, rather than sustaining and expanding current efforts. The outbreak of COVID-19 also has the potential to disrupt on-the-ground malaria programs and the availability of critical drugs. As Episcopalians, we must continue to raise our voices through advocacy to ensure the sustainability of global malaria programs and to care for all of God’s people.

Additional Resources:

Continue the Series

Global Health Series Week 1: Global Health Security
Global Health Series Week 2: Maternal and Child Health
Global Health Series Week 3: HIV/AIDS

Malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest infectious diseases in the world today. While it has been eradicated in many parts of the world, malaria remains endemic in poor tropical and subtropical areas, especially where climatic factors such as...
May 21, 2020

Originally posted 2 April 2020

Introduction

It can be tempting to think that the fear-inducing, hyper-partisan, misleading, and outright false content pervasive today is an exclusively modern problem. Yet for thousands of years, our Jewish and Christian ancestors have taught that deception is as old as humanity itself. In Genesis 3, the serpent manipulates Eve through a series of misleading and half-true statements to eat the forbidden fruit, then makes Adam do the same by offering him the choice through a trusted source. Sound like anything that has crossed your social media feed recently?

As Christians, we are not called to a life of half-truths and deception. We are called to follow a God who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Prayer Book also teaches that among our duties to our neighbors is “to be honest and fair in our dealings” and to “speak truth, and not mislead others by our silence.” (pg. 848) Let us therefore examine our own conduct to limit the spread of deceitful information and call upon our leaders to work towards the same.

The rapid expansion of digitalization and online platforms has enabled deceitful content to spread more rapidly and disguise itself more effectively. The nonprofit First Draft News has excellent language describing what information manipulation looks like today:

"The term ‘fake news’ doesn’t begin to cover all of this. Most of this content isn’t even fake; it’s often genuine, used out of context and weaponized by people who know that falsehoods based on a kernel of truth are more likely to be believed and shared. And most of this can’t be described as ‘news’. It’s good old-fashioned rumors, it’s memes, it’s manipulated videos and hyper-targeted ‘dark ads’ and old photos re-shared as new.

At First Draft, we advocate using the terms that are most appropriate for the type of content; whether that’s propaganda, lies, conspiracies, rumors, hoaxes, hyperpartisan content, falsehoods or manipulated media. We also prefer to use the terms disinformation, misinformation or malinformation. Collectively, we call it information disorder."

Table of Contents

  • Definitions
  • Understanding Information Disorder and Disinformation Campaigns
  • On Elections
  • What Can I Do?
  • Other Things to Consider
  • Further Resources
  • Resolutions by General Convention and Executive Council
  • On the U.S. 2020 Census
  • On COVID-19
  • On the Dangers of Government-Sponsored Disinformation
  • On Vaccines
  • On Climate Change

Definitions

Information Disorder: a term coined by First Draft News to encompass the spectrum of misinformation, malinformation, and disinformation 
Misinformation: false content that the person sharing doesn’t realize is false or misleading
Malinformation: genuine information shared with an intent to cause harm
Disinformation: shared content that is intentionally false and/or misleading and designed to cause harm
Social Cybersecurity: the science to characterize, understand, and forecast cyber-mediated changes in human behavior, social, cultural and political outcomes

Some disinformation is entirely false and fabricated, like this “news” article claiming Pope Francis has coronavirus. As this twitter user points out, the domain was registered several years ago in China and suddenly changed a couple of days previously.


Source: https://twitter.com/cindyotis_/status/1233771696462684161

Bots can be used to amplify fringe messages to mainstream audiences. Russian trolls, sophisticated bots, and “content polluters” tweet about vaccination and anti-vaccine messages like this one at significantly higher rates than average users. An estimated 25% of climate denial tweets are spread by bots.

One particular example of concern involves Russian intelligence services using paid advertisements during the 2016 U.S. election that sent different audiences different targeted messages. While national governments have long-used misinformation against enemies, social media has fundamentally changed the scope and reach of these campaigns. The goal of the ads was to widen existing divisions in the U.S., not simply to promote contradictory messages.  Notable use of inflammatory language and images and deliberately-misleading names of Facebook pages contributed to the confusion—nothing shows these ads were paid for by foreign actors.


Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/business/russian-ads-facebook-targeting/

Understanding Information Disorder and Disinformation Campaigns

Roughly 4 in 10 Americans say they often come across made-up news and information. Although the emerging field of social cybersecurity is just now starting to gauge how information disorder affects individuals and society, we have a fairly good understanding of how manipulated information is spread.

Disinformation campaigns are deliberately crafted to spread false or misleading information. However, it may not be the case that the campaign message itself is the actual goal. A common tactic is to first identify two pro/con groups on a divisive issue (abortion, vaccinations, climate change, and political ideology are prime examples). An effective disinformation campaign would infiltrate both sides, backing group leaders, and helping to develop echo chamber qualities in the group. In echo chambers, group members sideline outside information, pass internal information extremely quickly, and make decisions based on emotion and “what everyone knows.” Campaigns use this emotion-based decision-making to incite feelings like dismay or excitement in both groups, then pit the two sides against each other. Ultimately, both suffer from a lack of cross-issue communication and lose even more trust in “the other,” in short, enlarging the divide between the two sides.

Researchers are extremely concerned that disinformation campaigns undermine democratic processes by fostering doubt and destabilizing the common ground that democratic societies require. “[It’s like] listening to static through headphones,” says Dr. Kate Starbird, professor at the University of Washington. “It is designed to overwhelm our capacity to make sense of information, to push us into thinking that the healthiest response is to disengage. And we may have trouble seeing the problem when content aligns with our political identities.”

On Elections

Elections and politics have always involved disinformation and manipulation. Often, a politician’s ability to effectively use and counter such strategies is a mark of political competency. Consider Odysseus, “the man of twists and turns,” whose cleverness and trickery was praised by men and gods in the Greek epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. Yet democratic societies rely on fair and free elections to ensure that government derives its authority from the will of the people. Disinformation campaigns aimed at voters undermine the ability of a country to hold fair and free elections. There are number of tactics used for this goal.

Microtargeting of communities is particularly concerning: how can an election be fair if one community receives highly targeted, misleading messages urging them to vote for or against a candidate? Or worse, what happens when targeted messages advertise the incorrect time, place, or method of voting to a particular group, like the “Text to Vote for Hillary” ads? Even the threat of such actions undermines confidence in democratic systems.

We now know that for the past few years targeted international digital campaigns in the U.S. and around the world have worked to spread intentionally inaccurate content, undermine faith in election procedures, and widen existing fissures in multiple countries. Yet even U.S. domestic organizations are increasingly using these same disinformation techniques for short-term election or politically-motivated gains. Ultimately, election disinformation pushed by all actors weakens the democratic system.

The Episcopal Church recognizes the process of voting and political participation is an act of Christian stewardship, and that such processes must be fair, secure, and just (see resolutions EC022020.16 and 2018-D096). Since misinformation threatens this process, The Episcopal Church calls upon all its members to be vigilant when engaging with online information and encourages the use of fact-checking and source identification to limit misinformation’s spread. Further, we urge Episcopalians to hold government officials accountable for limiting the spread of information that is false and designed to cause harm.

What Can I Do?

Misinformation often spreads faster than real news and reaches a wider audience. It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to identify. The first step in addressing misinformation is acknowledgement: all of us contribute to the problem, and we must all take ownership to stop it. As long as misinformation remains an issue for “the other” to solve—Gen Z, Boomers, Facebook, Millennials, in-laws—it will persist.

We won’t catch all the misinformation streaming past us. But before you re-share that tweet, or tell a friend about that surprising headline you saw, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Where’s it from? Look for the source and be careful of fake copycat websites.
  2. What’s missing? Do the headline and article match? Are other news organizations talking about it?
  3. How do you feel? If a headline or article sparks an intense emotion like fear, anger, or vindication, be watchful. That’s a common tactic from someone trying to manipulate you, not from someone trying to spread reputable news.

 

Other things to consider:

  • Learn who to trust. An unfortunate consequence of disinformation vigilance can be censorship through noise. If vigilance leads us to distrust every headline, then those promoting disinformation are succeeding. This means we are less likely to receive information that is accurate and informative. Learning who generally produces accurate information is as important as carefully examining unknown sources.
  • Genre matters. It’s not just satirical Onion articles that get shared as a “news.” Be mindful of the differences in presentation, fact-checking protocol, and accountability standards between peer-reviewed research, fact-checked news articles, personal opinion pieces and talk shows, and various forms of satire, propaganda, and gossip.
  • One effective way to end disinformation campaigns is to label them. While you might not want to engage with the comment thread debates on social media, consider making a comment or sending a private message to friends and family members when they share a post that you suspect is false or misleading.  And be responsive to the same feedback from others!  
  • Communicate to elected officials that protection from disinformation campaigns is important to you.
  • Consider asking your members of Congress to support election security. Bills debated in the 116th Congress include the DETER Act S. 1060,  Honest Ads Act S.1356/H.R.2592, and SHIELD Act H.R. 4617.
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the relationship between free speech and disinformation. Consider: Does (or should) the Constitution offer paid commercial or political ads the same free speech protections as individuals? Does freedom of speech also include the freedom to receive information? If so, does disinformation threaten that right? Who (if anyone) should be responsible for tracking/tagging false information? Should there be limits to web anonymity or author disclosure requirements?

Further Resources

If you want to learn more about information disorder, here are some recommendations:

Resolutions by General Convention and Executive Council

On the U.S. 2020 Census

Every 10 years, the US government undertakes a massive effort to count all individuals living in the country. This count is critically important: it determines representation in Congress, is used to allocate federal funds for the next decade, and provides valuable information for state and local community officials, service providers, and private businesses. Misinformation about the census is easily spread and incredibly damaging. Communities where census misinformation is most rampant are often ones with “hard-to-count” subgroups who have the most to gain from accurate population counts.

Targets of census misinformation often include:

  • Data privacy and financial scams. What you need to know: The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, credit card or bank account numbers, or a financial donation.
  • In-person census takers. What you need to know: During the spring and summer of the 2020 Census, in-person census takers will visit homes to follow up with individuals who have not yet responded. All workers carry an ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you have questions about their identity, you can call +1-844-330-2020 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.
  • Data privacy and protection guarantees. What you need to know: Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, census data may ONLY be used for statistical purposes. The Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies.

You can learn more about Census Misinformation and how to counter it on the official U.S. Census website. Also, don’t miss the Office of Government Relation’s Census Series and census engagement toolkit!

On COVID-19

The uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19 create a perfect environment for misinformation about it to spread rapidly and widely, so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned fighting this disease will also require fighting an “infodemic.” Misinformation topics include the origins of the disease, how it spreads, how to treat it, authorities’ responses, and communities’ actions. Individuals in the U.S. and abroad have already died from following false advice about coronavirus treatment and prevention methods.

Amid this infodemic, the Office of Government Relations urges everyone to obtain and share information about the coronavirus disease directly from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, John Hopkins University, or your local health care providers. We know that guidance from these agencies can fluctuate and sometimes change completely. Understand, however, that this is because these agencies are doing their due diligence to provide transparency to the public about this health crisis and to adjust their recommendations as new scientific research comes in.

What is going on with the masks?

Our health care workers directly interacting with many COVID-19 patients have some of the highest risk for catching this disease and are one of the most important groups to keep healthy and at work. Because of this, the limited supply of N95 and surgical masks are being directed towards this group. Other face covers, including homemade ones, are not very good at protecting people from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, which is why the CDC did not originally recommend the general public wear them. However, these lower grade masks can reduce the spread of COVID-19 from individuals who are already infected. As data came out that many COVID-19 cases were being spread by individuals who did not know they had the disease, the CDC changed its mask recommendation to encourage the general public to wear one. Wearing a cloth mask won’t directly stop you from getting sick, but if you and everyone around you wears one, you are far less likely to spread the disease to one another.  

What else should we be doing?

Current health guidelines are mundane but still very important to follow. Best practices recommended by the CDC for everyone currently include:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover while around others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect

For individuals infected with COVID-19, we know that there are various suggestions to alleviate symptoms at home. Look out for treatments with potentially dangerous side effects and remember to track any medication you take, including natural or herbal supplements. If your condition worsens, this information will help your doctor know how to best treat you.

As we fight this global pandemic, let us ensure our actions are limiting the spread of this disease, not increasing the spread of misinformation.

On the Dangers of Government-Sponsored Disinformation

Government-sponsored disinformation campaigns have the power to be damaging to society. Usually, individuals have some say in the amount of social media they consume and which organization they choose to receive news from. But since governments are our law-making bodies with the power and authority to enforce those laws, all of us must pay attention to government-sponsored information campaigns. If these campaigns are used to spread false or misleading information to citizens, especially if the deception is intentional, societal damage begins to accumulate. Here’s how: 

1. Erosion of trust.
Government-backed disinformation can erode trust between branches of government, between a government and its citizens, and in the international sphere. Americans, for example, have less trust in the federal government than in state or local government, and they also believe the federal government is less likely to provide fair and accurate information. This lack of trust makes it much harder to coordinate efforts like disaster relief and health care recommendations while also opening the door for other actors with less oversight and accountability to become primary information providers. In democratic societies that rely much more explicitly on a level of trust between elected officials and constituents, erosion of trust can represent a long-term threat to stable government systems.

2. Lack of accountability.
No authority wants to be responsible for a failed initiative, poor disaster response, or other crises where the government is perceived to have managed the situation badly. Disinformation campaigns can allow governments to shift blame to other scapegoats or deny a problem’s existence altogether while avoiding productive action to address the issue. 

3. Encourages the spread of more misinformation.
Disinformation campaigns often produce short-term benefits, though the long-term repercussions may ultimately hurt the government sponsoring the campaign. Once one government starts to rely on disinformation, it therefore becomes attractive for other domestic and foreign interests to spearhead their own campaigns either through a “they-do-it why-shouldn’t-I” rationalization or out of a desire to remain competitive in the information sphere of influence.

On Vaccines

Vaccines are one of the greatest medical accomplishments in history: extraordinarily safe, incredibly effective, and once past the initial development, often inexpensive to produce. Vaccines have saved millions of lives and protect an even greater number of individuals from life-long debilitating medical conditions that can result from a severe case of an infectious disease. In today’s COVID-19 world, experts predict that life likely will not return to “normal” until a vaccine is developed and can be widely distributed.

An anti-vaccine movement has persisted almost since the invention of vaccines. Following the introduction of the smallpox vaccine in the 1800s, anti-vaccine movements spread across Britain and the United States fueled by a skepticism of science, disapproval and fear of the vaccine method, and an objection to personal liberty infringements when legislation mandated vaccinations. More recently, a fraudulent study published in 1998 purported a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. This paper, and others like it, have contributed to thousands of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, despite investigations showing data from the study was falsified and the main author failed to disclose a significant financial conflict of interest.

Anti-vaccine misinformation is incredibly pervasive and easy to find in today’s media-rich culture. Platforms give discredited former scientists and doctors, such as the lead author of the fraudulent MMR vaccine study, a way to spread their views to a wide audience with very little oversight or accountability.

It is true that vaccines, like any medication, sometimes result in unexpected side effects. However, serious side effects from standard vaccinations are incredibly rare and far less likely to occur than serious side effects that can develop from contracting an infectious disease. Doctors further limit the likelihood of serious side effects by not vaccinating the small percentage of the population who are at higher risk of experiencing a negative reaction.

Choosing not to vaccinate for a non-medical reason does not just put in the individual in question at risk: it also creates an environment for infectious diseases to spread to those who, for health reasons, cannot get vaccinated and are often at risk for developing more serious symptoms of a disease. Because refusing vaccinations brings significant public health risks to many members of the community, U.S. courts have generally upheld states’ authority to mandate vaccinations, noting that an individual’s right to personal liberty or religious freedom does not supersede a state’s responsibility to safeguard the public. Approximately 1.5 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year. In an effort to protect all its members and our neighbors, The Episcopal Church does not recognize theological or religious exemptions for vaccines and requires vaccinations for all participants and staff at Episcopal events (except for those with a medical exemption). Learn more about engaging faith communities on immunization from The World Faiths Development Dialogue.

If you have questions about vaccines:

  1. Talk with your primary health care provider. They can explain possible vaccine side effects, possible side effects from catching a disease, and the relative risks of each. Your primary health care provider should also be informed of any pre-existing medical conditions you or your children have.
  2. Conduct online research from reputable sources, like the Centers for Disease Control. There’s a lot of false, misleading, or incomplete information about vaccinations. Make sure any information you use has been thoroughly vetted by the medical community.

On Climate Change

Disinformation is not the only reason for climate change denial in the U.S., but it is certainly a major contributor. According to climate scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, the 6 stages of climate denial can be summarized as follows: “It's not real. It's not us. It's not that bad. It's too expensive to fix. Aha, here's a great solution (that actually does nothing). And - oh no! Now it's too late. You really should have warned us earlier.”

In 1856, amateur scientist Eunice Foote published a paper in the American Journal of Science about her discovery of the heat-trapping properties of carbon dioxide and theorized that an atmosphere with a higher concentration of CO2 would result in a warmer Earth. A century and a half later, the science has only become more clear: climate change is real, humans are causing it, and solutions must be implemented as quickly as possible. A growing scientific consensus, however, was paralleled by a growing body of climate misinformation funded by the fossil fuel industry and private philanthropy. We should be having conversations about solutions to climate change and what compromises are necessary to implement them. Instead, we continue to debate what is already scientific consensus and strive to correct the errors misinformation propagates.

Political affiliation—not scientific knowledge—is a key predictor of an individual’s belief in climate change in the U.S. This partisan divide, fueled by misinformation, has stalled bipartisan legislation to address climate change for over 20 years. To this day, very little action has been taken at the federal level to decrease the United States’ carbon footprint. Even within the environmental community, climate misinformation persists: an environmental documentary released around Earth Day 2020 received scathing reviews for mixing important questions about the renewable energy sector with an enormous amount of outdated, misleading, and false data.

Climate change is already one of the most difficult crises of our time that we need to address. Let’s not make it more difficult to implement solutions by using misinformation to disguise the problem and derail debates.

To learn more about the science of climate change:

To learn more about climate change solutions:

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Work on this resource was led by Rebecca Cotton, policy intern, Office of Government Relations

Originally posted 2 April 2020 Introduction It can be tempting to think that the fear-inducing, hyper-partisan, misleading, and outright false content pervasive today is an exclusively modern problem. Yet for thousands of years, our Jewish and...
May 20, 2020

“I believe that we in the religious communities have a unique ministry in that we are the popular, public and identified repositories of ethical, moral, and prophetic witness. People want to know what we think about this disease and what we see as a faithful response.” - Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning, from ENS report on the Atlanta Declaration (1989)

A lot has changed about HIV/AIDS since the initial reporting of cases in 1981. In the early days of this global epidemic, acquiring HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was a death sentence. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 32 million have died from AIDS-related illness (UNAIDS). Over the last 20 years, however, the international community has mobilized and invested in scientific research, development of affordable antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, and better policies to slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS globally. These efforts have led to a reduction in new infections and a better quality of life for people living with HIV. Today, the life expectancy of people living with HIV has improved tremendously because of the availability of antiretroviral treatments.   

Faith-based institutions have played a major role in the global response to HIV/AIDS. The General Convention passed its first resolution on AIDS in 1985, four years after the condition was first discovered in the U.S. There have been over fifty resolutions on the issue since then, an illustration of the church’s concern and commitment to pursue justice and establish ministries to provide care to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Our church leaders were instrumental in both raising awareness in the church and seeking resources from the U.S. government to help mitigate the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS globally. The Office of Government Relations has been part of the advocacy community that has shaped U.S. HIV/AIDS policy strategies for many years, and we continue to do so today.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains one of the most serious global health threats today. At the end of 2018, there were approximately 38 million people living with HIV, 1.7 million new infections, and about 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illness. Of the nearly 38 million people living with HIV, only 25 million were able to access antiretroviral medication, leaving another 13 million people without access to these life-saving treatments (UNAIDS).

In response to increased mortality rates from AIDS-related illness and other infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis and Malaria, the international community--including the U.S. government--launched the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in 2002. This public-private financing organization works with low- and middle-income countries to fight these three infectious diseases. Furthermore, in 2003 President George W. Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a bilateral U.S. government effort to combat HIV/AIDS globally. Together, PEPFAR and the Global Fund work with heavily affected countries to ensure the availability of financial and technical resources as they work to prevent HIV transmissions and provide treatment to people living with HIV. These two programs have been vital in the global fight against HIV/AIDS; it is therefore critical to ensure they continue to be funded so that this life-saving work can continue. While these programs have historically enjoyed bipartisan support, we are concerned about potential U.S. disengagement.

The Office of Government Relations continues to advocate to members of Congress every year urging support for robust funding of PEPFAR and the Global Fund, including ensuring that the U.S. government follows through on its pledge to replenish the Global Fund. Not only do we need to maintain current HIV/AIDS programs, but the international community must also work together to scale up treatment services to ensure everyone living with HIV can access antiretroviral therapy (ARTs). In addition to improving life expectancy, research has shown that taking ARTs as prescribed decreases the chances of sexual transmission of HIV.

General Convention Resolutions

  • 1985-D062: Recognize and Respond to the Tragedy of the AIDS Crisis
  • 1994-A005: Reaffirm Support for a Public Policy on the AIDS/HIV Pandemic
  • 2000-A051: Support Initiatives to Make Available AIDS-related Medications
  • 2003-D054: Keep America's "Promise to Africa"
  • 2009-A159: Urge the Church to Address HIV/AIDS Prevention

Additional Resources

Continue the Series

Global Health Series Week 1: Global Health Security
Global Health Series Week 2: Maternal and Child Health
Global Health Series Week 4: Malaria

“I believe that we in the religious communities have a unique ministry in that we are the popular, public and identified repositories of ethical, moral, and prophetic witness. People want to know what we think about this disease and what we see as...
May 19, 2020
Tagged in: Advocacy COVID-19

We write to you to share news about the ongoing work of the Office of Government Relations. Things have changed dramatically over the past few months, but in many ways, our work continues much the same, although with greater urgency and intensity. We continue to reach out to Congressional offices and to meet virtually with Congressional staff. We are sending action alerts, releasing statements, and developing resources including webinars and multi-week series to help us all dive in to the various facets of an issue.

In this month’s newsletter, you will find an analysis of where things stand on plans for the ongoing census and the election, and more information about the issues The Episcopal Church has spoken up on.

We also want to share the bittersweet news that Jack Cobb, after three years in our office, will be returning to government service. You can find more information about his new position and the important work he will be doing there below.

Jack has been a tremendous colleague, collaborator, and contributor to the work of OGR and the broader Church. Since July of 2017, Jack has helped Episcopalians to advocate for healthcare, tax reform, food assistance, criminal justice reform, and anti-poverty efforts and has led efforts to stop legislation that would permit drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Jack worked on significant gun safety legislation that passed the House and helped to secure funding for HBCUs. He prepared bishops for Congressional testimony on reparations and drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Thanks in part to his efforts and those of other faith-based advocates, we have seen the Speaker of the House refer to environmental work as caring for creation. All of this work has been done in partnership with ecumenical and interfaith partners and secular allies and would not be possible without the commitment of advocates like you. Please join us in wishing him the best!

Finally, during these times of uncertainty for all of us, we are more appreciative than ever of the work you do as advocates.

Many thanks,

Rebecca Blachly
Director, Office of Government Relations

Message from Jack Cobb, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Government Relations:

After almost three years with the Office of Government Relations (OGR), I will be leaving my position this week to return to the career civil service at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The opportunity to work alongside Episcopalians, colleagues on the Presiding Bishop’s staff, and affiliated national organizations has been a great honor. Helping lead Episcopalians’ response to domestic and environmental policy issues at OGR has been an incredible opportunity to learn from many members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network who are so generous with their time and expertise. I am grateful for everything members of the EPPN have done to support OGR in our work and ensure our Church’s positions are heard by federal lawmakers. I am excited to transition to being an active member of the EPPN and continuing to work alongside you all.

OGR Action alerts

In the last few weeks, we have sent alerts to the EPPN to ask Congress to take action on a variety of issues directly and indirectly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent reporting has shown that infection rates in Navajoland surpass those of any state on a per capita basis. We have therefore pushed for supporting Indigenous communities.

The Supreme Court will be releasing a decision on DACA in the coming weeks, but we are urging Congress to pass protections for Dreamers, regardless of the decision.

We have also issued action alerts urging long-term investments in sustainability on Earth Day and asked for the release of essential aid to Palestinians.

OGR Statements and Resources

Misinformation, Disinformation, Fake News: Why Do We Care? (April 2)
This resource offers practical advice on how to identify and stop the spread of misinformation and details how misinformation is derailing important conversations about COVID-19, elections, vaccinations, and other pressing societal issues.

Refugees and COVID-19 (April 23)
Refugees remain one of the most vulnerable populations across the globe, and the COVID-19 pandemic only magnifies this vulnerability. Limited housing and health services in refugee camps increase the risk of rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, and insufficient funding for domestic and international refugee assistance programs limits preventative actions aid organizations can take.

Statement on President Trump’s Recent Immigration Executive Order (April 24)
The Episcopal Church recognizes that migration has always been part of the human condition, and as people called to love the stranger, we continue to stand firm in upholding the fundamental human rights of all people and protecting family unity even in times of uncertainty and crisis.

The Dangers of Detention During COVID-19 (May 11)
The Episcopal Church supports alternatives to immigration detention centers even in normal times, but the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic lends an urgency to addressing this crisis now. Crowded living conditions in detention centers make it almost impossible to practice social distancing or to self-isolate if an individual gets sick, putting the health and lives of immigrants, detention center workers, and the broader community at risk. 

Events

Director of the Office of Government Relations, Rebecca Blachly, participated in a panel hosted by the Diocese of Chicago’s Anti-Racism Commission entitled “On COVID-19, Health Disparities and Systemic Racism: How do we respond as people of faith?” We have seen the disproportionate impact in the U.S. as the pandemic reveals underlying inequity and structural racism. Read about our policy recommendations here. We have the opportunity to push for concrete policy recommendations that will begin to address disparities in access to healthcare, food and housing insecurity, criminal justice reform, and many other issues. You can read the coverage of the event here.

Along with Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Office of Government Relations hosted two webinars.

  • Episcopal DACA Action Day: this webinar facilitated conversations with DACA Episcopalians and included a policy briefing, advocacy training, and collective action to ask Congress to pass the Dream Act.
  • Immigrant Detention during COVID-19: Prophetic Action & Compassionate Response: this webinar, taking place today, May 19 at 4pm EST, will include clergy and lay leaders from various dioceses with professional and ministry background in different models of detention visitation ministry. Registration is required and available here.
On Title VII

In October 2019, the Supreme Court heard three cases asking whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—which outlaws discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and sex—includes protections for the LGBT community. In support of an end to discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, The Episcopal Church submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to the Supreme Court in partnership with a broad faith-based coalition. We argue that the question before the Court is whether to uphold the inherent dignity of LGBT persons equally with the inherent dignity of all other members of society, and we rejected the claim that prohibiting discrimination against LGBT persons in any way undermines fundamental rights of religious belief or practice.

The EPPN continues to advocate for the Equality Act, legislation that passed the House in May 2019 and would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sign-on letters

The Episcopal Church, with the guidance of the Office of Government Relations, has continued to raise its voice along with our secular and faith-based partners on a plethora of key issues. Presiding Bishop Curry has also signed on to two letters recently asking Congress to pass legislation to support struggling households and asking Congress to provide additional funding for our elections.

Presiding Bishop:

The Episcopal Church:

On Civic Engagement

2020 Census
It is not too late! You can still respond to the Census, if you haven’t already, online at 2020Census.gov, or by returning the form you may have received in the mail. The more of us who self-respond now, the less work remains for in-person Census workers. We are continuing to monitor updates on the Census timeline and other needs for completing an accurate 2020 count.

There are two additional items that may be of particular interest to recent graduates.

2020 Election
We are advocating to Congress for funding to support states’ adjustments expanding mail-in voting and improving health security measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are conducting direct meetings with Senate offices, are networking within our coalitions focused on this work, and have joined several sign-on letters about voting rights. As many election policies are determined at the state level, we encourage you to educate yourself on and monitor developments in your state or territory concerning the November election and the remaining primaries.

As always, we are updating our civic engagement resources available on our website and will be releasing a number of new versions of our toolkits in the coming days.

Episcopal News Service Coverage

For additional information, please visit OGR's Government and Advocacy Resources on COVID-19 page. 
 

We write to you to share news about the ongoing work of the Office of Government Relations. Things have changed dramatically over the past few months, but in many ways, our work continues much the same, although with greater urgency and intensity....
May 13, 2020

This week our global health series focuses on maternal and child health. Years of research and experience have shown that preventative measures, early diagnosis, and low-cost health interventions are critical for any health condition including maternal and child health care. Since 1990, mortality rates among children have decreased by 50 percent, and maternal deaths have decreased by nearly 45 percent. These advances have largely been achieved using simple solutions and proven, inexpensive interventions to address leading causes of death, including diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and complications during pregnancy and birth. On the other hand, over 295,000 women and 5 million children die every year from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Children under 5 years old are most impacted, especially newborns who die at significant rates. Maternal and child death rates are particularly high in low- and lower-middle-income countries. 

The Episcopal Church has a long history of supporting initiatives to improve quality of life of the most vulnerable, including pregnant and post-natal women and their young children. Since 2003, the General Convention has endorsed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their successor, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are multilateral initiatives that include commitments to improving maternal and child health outcomes. The Episcopal Church has engaged on this issue in multifaceted ways: by raising awareness and mobilizing action, prayer, and through advocacy. Episcopal Relief & Development and Anglican partners are also working to improve maternal and child health in low-income countries.

Take action in support of every mother and child!

Research shows that the first 1,000 days of life are foundational in developing a child’s capacity to learn, grow, and thrive for years to come. Ensuring children receive adequate nutrition, vaccinations, and other basic health interventions during this time period significantly decreases their mortality risk or the risk of developing serious health conditions later in life. Poor nutrition for infants and toddlers can cause irreversible damage to their growing brain, and malnutrition is responsible for almost half of all child deaths worldwide. Since an infant’s health is directly impacted by her mother’s health during pregnancy, and because women most often continue to serve as the primary caregivers to children even after birth, effective investment in maternal health also has direct, positive benefits to children’s health.

The U.S. government has been leading global efforts to end preventable maternal and child deaths through bilateral and multilateral partnerships. These efforts include providing financial and technical assistance to low-income countries with high maternal and under-five years mortality rates. In 2014, the U.S. government declared ending preventable child and maternal deaths around the world a national priority, a welcome call to action. The U.S. Agency for International Development is the lead government agency on this work. Moving forward, the Office of Government Relations will continue to advocate for funding resources and better maternal and child health policies.  

Additional Resources

Continue the Series

Global Health Series Week 1: Global Health Security
Global Health Series Week 3: HIV/AIDS
Global Health Series Week 4: Malaria

This week our global health series focuses on maternal and child health. Years of research and experience have shown that preventative measures, early diagnosis, and low-cost health interventions are critical for any health condition including...
May 11, 2020

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (commonly known as coronavirus) presents a host of challenges to our immigration system. The Episcopal Church was no great supporter of the pre-pandemic enforcement regime and has long supported alternatives to immigrant detention. In the face of a virus easily spread by contact in close quarters, our government has an obligation to ensure the health and well-being of all those in its custody, including detained immigrants.

Immigrant Detention: Unnecessary Even in Normal Times

Even in the absence of a pandemic, there are far better ways to monitor those undergoing immigration removal proceedings than keeping asylum seekers in detention. Detention unnecessarily exposes immigrants to prison-like conditions. The Episcopal Church has long supported alternatives to immigrant detention that maintain family unity and provide immigrants with access to the physical and mental health supports they need.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have an important role to play in ensuring the security of our nation, but unfortunately have documented violations of human rights of detained immigrants. A number of national organizations including the ACLU, Detention Watch Network, Human Rights Watch, and the National Immigrant Justice Center have issued reports highlighting how ICE’s negligence has resulted in a number of deaths among ICE and CBP detainees. According to the National Immigrant Justice Center, nearly 75 people died in ICE custody between 2010 and 2018. The administration has continually asked Congress for more funds to expand the regime of immigrant detention, requesting $2.8 billion for fiscal year 2019 to finance a 30 percent increase in the number of immigrants detained by the federal government each day.

Detention and COVID-19

Detention poses substantial health risks to immigrants amid the SARS-COV2 pandemic. The public health advice to maintain physical distance from others cannot easily be followed in most group housing situations, including detention centers. This makes these facilities ticking time-bombs. Inadequate medical care and suboptimal conditions make it very difficult for the system to responsibly confront an outbreak of COVID-19 in detention facilities. The constant churn and turnover of detention facilities may also facilitate the spread of the disease, as previous detention-based health crises have shown. Detention centers must release as many detainees as possible for the health and safety of all concerned.

The Medical Necessity of Releasing Detainees

Immigrant detention has demonstrable negative impacts on the mental and physical health of detainees. From the moment an immigrant arrives at a facility their quality of life begins an inexorable decline. Detention centers are not designed to provide top-notch mental health care and physical health care to those detained. We have seen inhumane conditions in too many instances due to America’s immigrant detention infrastructure.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that ICE has confirmed 449 COVID-19 positive detainees, with the largest single outbreak occurring at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in southern California. At that facility, nearly 100 detainees have tested positive for COVID. There have also been reports of ICE failing to quarantine symptomatic detainees while they await the results of their COVID screening. Detainees would be much better off physically distancing themselves in their own homes, rather than remaining in a massive group situation at detention facilities.

Detainees are not the only ones put at risk by keeping detention facilities open. The guards and other staff who maintain detention centers also face threats to their health by continuing to show up to work. At the Otay Mesa facility in California 15 detention center employees have tested positive for COVID-19. These employees go back and forth between the detention center and their homes, increasing the chances of spreading the virus to their families and the wider community.

The Importance of Action

Today’s form of immigrant detention is a modern-day innovation, and an unnecessary one at that. A better way is possible. With the exigencies of COVID-19 we must act now to press the administration to change course and release detainees. Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in policy and to act. The stakes in this situation are very high; it is essential that we raise our voices in support of humane treatment of immigrants. We cannot allow the continuation of harmful policies to deter us in the fight against COVID-19.   

Join the Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries on Tuesday, May 19 at 4PM ET for Immigrant Detention during COVID-19: Prophetic Action & Compassionate Response. This seventy-five-minute webinar will include clergy and lay leaders from the Dioceses of Georgia, Ohio, and Western Louisiana with professional and ministry background in different models of detention visitation ministry.

The online presentation will provide viewers with an understanding of our country’s immigration detention system, including reports of inhumane conditions and privately-owned prison facilities; an understanding of the reasons immigrants may be detained and how they may be released; and, a discussion of the current situation in detention facilities during COVID-19.

The webinar will also discuss practical actions that anyone can take to speak out for and respond with compassion to the needs of our siblings in detention. Questions must be emailed before the webinar to emmwebinars@episcopalchurch.org.

Register at bit.ly/detentionwebinar

Rushad Thomas is a policy advisor in The Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (commonly known as coronavirus) presents a host of challenges to our immigration system. The Episcopal Church was no great supporter of the pre-pandemic enforcement regime and has long supported alternatives to immigrant...