Social Transformation

A Statement from the US Grail

“The Grail in the US is dedicated to peace, justice and the renewal of the earth. We stand with those targeted for their peaceful resistance to hate and exclusion in Charlottesville. We recognize that the racism and anti-semitism that fueled the violence this weekend is systemic not isolated and we encourage efforts to eradicate it at all levels.”

The Grail values justice and works to transform the world by networking, education and action. Grail members work to promote peace and justice locally and nationally by being involved in International Grail networks and through our NGO status with the United Nations.

    In 2020, Grail members voted to accept the following Social Justice Policies in accordance with its vision and mission statements, to encourage members and non-members to take action towards achieving The Grail’s mission goals.   

     The Grail Core Social Policies

      Taking a Stand

      The Grail in the US is a movement which means that our members share values but may sometimes differ on priorities. There are some moments where unification is paramount, and at such times we as The Grail in the US choose to Take a Stand which means statements, sign-ons and actions can be taken by local, regional or national Grail groups without further vote if they are within the parameters of the policy statement.

      Taking a Stand: Poor People's Campaign, 2020

      TAKING A STAND:  GRAIL SUPPORT FOR THE POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN
      US GRAIL POLICY POSITION ON POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN

      1. BACKGROUND:

        In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC) has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.

        The PCC is made up of people of all backgrounds, “we are Black, Brown, White, Native, and Asian; we are old and young; we are Christian, Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim; we are people of faith and not of faith; we are people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; we are led by poor people and we are a cross-class movement; we are people of all abilities; and we live across this nation, from Alabama to Alaska, from Maine to California to Mississippi.” The PPC is strictly non-partisan and non-violent in its approach to improving the lives of the 140 million poor and low-income people in the U.S. today.

        The anchor organizations of the PPC are Repairers of the Breach, led by the Rev. William Barber; and The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, led by the Rev. Liz Theoharis.  As part of ongoing actions for justice, there are more than 170 Mobilizing Partners – churches, environmental and justice organizations, and many others – who endorse and are bringing their members to participate in a major action on June 20, 2020.  COVID-19 has forced what was to be a march on Washington into a virtual event. 

        June 20th is slated to be “the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-income people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in this nation’s history. A global pandemic has exposed the already existing crisis of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. On June 20, the 140 million poor and low-income people across this nation will be heard!”

      The PPC is organized by state committees, which take local actions, as well as national gatherings. The campaign was launched in 2018 with 40 days of action and mass civil disobedience.  Several Grail members did civil disobedience in Washington DC or state capitols as part of the Campaign.  In June 2019 the Campaign held its first national meeting, and endorsed a Poor People’s Moral Budget  https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/resource/poor-peoples-moral-budget/ Outlining an advocacy agenda for the movement.  Carol Barton and Carol Skyrm attended this meeting.

      For more information, the PCC website is https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/ . 

      The citations in this text come from PCC statements.

      For more information on the June 20th virtual event, please watch this video:  https://youtu.be/7PjveDCFbr8 

      1. TAKING PUBLIC POLICY STANDS AS UNITED STATES GRAIL:

        GA 2000 As approved by GA 1984 As amended by The Grail Council, 3/2010

        A number of factors have urged a reconsideration of the idea that the Grail take political stands as a movement:

        1. An understanding that our non-profit status under 501(C3) does not prohibit our working on issues, but only prohibits endorsing candidates and using a percentage of resources on lobbying (over 10%)*

        2. A strong consensus that we must undertake corporate work in the area of social and political action;

        3. A growing agreement on a number of issues. By adopting a policy of taking stands as Grail on clearly specified and agreed upon issues, we make it possible to advance our corporate work by joining coalitions on various issues, endorsing public statements and participating in the emerging movement of religious groups involved in the area of peace and justice. Before endorsing positions of joining coalitions, it is important to determine that related tactics, strategies, and ideologies are consistent with Grail values.

      * for clarification; this summary begins the multi-page policy on taking a stand

      Taking a Stand: Migration, 2019

      The Grail in the United States affirms the following:

      1. We stand on the side of justice and dignity for all migrants, including asylum-seekers.

      2. We call on the US government to adopt humane US migration policies that promote, protect and fulfill international human rights, including human rights at international borders; women’s human rights and the rights of the child. The US must extend dignified and humane treatment to migrants, including asylum-seekers.

      1. We call for an end to family separation, detention and deportations. We condemn the detention of children, which must end immediately. While we particularly challenge the role of private prisons in detaining migrants for profit, the government must seek alternatives to ALL forms of migrant detention.                                                                                                                                              
      2. We denounce the criminalization of migrants due to their migration status. Recognizing the global realities of economics, politics, discrimination and war that force people to leave their homes and the pull of employers and governments seeking migrant labor while denying their rights, we affirm the right to migrate as well as the right to remain at home.                                        
      3. We denounce the “externalization of borders” such as that occurring between the US and Mexico, where the US pressures Mexico to prevent migrants, including asylum-seekers, from reaching the US. Offering asylumseekers consideration of their claims is an obligation under the Refugee Convention. We challenge US efforts to deny asylum on multiple arbitrary grounds.                              
      4. We recognize that there are many reasons that migrants leave their home. Some of these fall under the Refugee Convention and some, including economic conditions, climate change and gang violence, do not. Yet all are equally deserving of welcome and legal protections in countries of destination. We reject a false narrative of “deserving asylum-seekers and refugees” and “undeserving migrants,” and work to challenge this.                                                                                                                                               
      5. We recognize that US economic, political, trade, and climate policy in Central America and throughout the world has played a major role in creating the conditions for large movements of migrants today. As such, the 2 US has a responsibility not only to receive migrants and refugees, but also to end military support and militarization while investing in just, equitable and sustainable development.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
      6. We call for a process to regularize the status of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the US as well as an expansion of legal pathways for migration to the US. All migrants, regardless of status, must have access to public services as healthcare, education and housing as well as access to the justice system.                                                                                                        
      7. We call on the US to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (it is the only state not to do so). In addition, we urge the US to sign the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. Whether or not the US joins the global community in these commitments, it still has an obligation to respect the human rights of children, including migrant children and their families, in all situations.                                                                                                                           

      Taking Action:

      We call on US Grail members to:

      1. Listen to migrant voices and support their leadership in discerning effective ways to take action for migrant justice.                           
      2. Explore ways to provide direct solidarity and support for migrant communities across the US and globally, through providing direct financial and material support, legal aid, know-your-rights support, sanctuary, and more.                                                                 
      3. Speak out, issue statements, support statements, advocate with elected officials and mobilize to change the deeply disturbing US immigration policies that violate migrant human rights.                                                                                                                                       
      4. Challenge US policies that create conditions of forced migration. Support US policy that affirms democratic, just and sustainable development in Central America, Mexico and throughout the world. This includes support for democratic institutions, protection of human rights and environment defenders, and investment in healthcare, education and jobs that pay a living wage.                          
      5. Work with International Grail members, including the Grail Migration Network, to explore and challenge the global impact of US migration policy as well as the global realities of xenophobia, detention, deportation, racism and criminalization of migrants.

       Statements, sign-ons and actions can be taken by local, regional or national Grail groups without further vote if they are within the parameters of this policy statement.

      Taking a Stand: Berta Cáceres, 2016

      The Grail in the United States joins the rest of the world in condemning the assassination of Berta Cáceres, co-founder of COPINH (Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). Our Sisters in Honduras worked together with her in the struggles to preserve the environment, indigenous and feminist rights and the return to democracy in Honduras after the 2009 military coup. She inspired them with her unrelenting commitment to the indigenous people of Honduras, her courage, creativity, leadership, humility and deep spirituality. For this reason, her death strikes us personally, and we are deeply saddened as well as enraged. It is also a dire setback in terms of social movements in Honduras, where murders of community leaders are frequent, and a global leader like Berta cannot be protected.                                                                                                                                                                      
      An indigenous leader from the Lenca community, Berta has been one of the leaders fighting the Agua Zarca Dam, a project imposed on the Lenca without prior consent, in violation of ILO Convention 169. She fought against World Bank funding of an earlier dam project and against the U.S.-trained and -supported Honduran coup in 2009. She did this work despite repeated threats on her life and the
      lives of her family.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
      She was recognized around the world for her leadership, and received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Through her efforts, the Lenca community were able to temporarily halt the construction of the dam, although construction is again underway. A Lenca road block to halt the dam has recently led to a tense stand-off between the community, police and the military. We grieve the loss of an amazing fighter who was an inspiration to many, and we pledge to keep organizing in her memory. She fought for life, for land, for dignity, for happiness!                                                                                                                                                                                                              
      The United States played a significant role in the 2009 coup which opened the way for an intensification of corporate extraction projects. The U.S. has also played a role in backing a heavily militarized Honduran government and training the elite “Los Tigres” military squad at the School of the Americas, creating the conditions for repression against activists protecting their communities.
      We are profoundly concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with internationally financed Honduran company, D.E.S.A.’s Social Investment Programming, through the MERCADO project, linking U.S. taxpayer dollars to the repression and violence against COPINH. We strongly condemn the role in Rio Blanco of Los TIGRES in defending
      the private interests of D.E.S.A.                                                                                                                                                                                             
      We ask that all concerned people send a message to the Honduran embassies and government, the Organization of American States, the U.S. government and the United Nations calling for an investigation and denouncing this and other assassinations of other human rights defenders of COPINH and Honduras. We recognize the role of the U.S. in backing a heavily militarized Honduras and creating the conditions for repression against activists protecting their communities.

      We call on the Honduran government to act immediately for:

      • An impartial international investigation into the forces behind Berta’s death to determine the
        intellectual and material authors of the crime. 
      • An end to impunity in the murder of Berta Cáceres, as well as the murders of all other social
        and environmental justice activists and journalists since the 2009 coup.
      •  The immediate return of environmental rights leader, Gustavo Castro Soto, witness to the
        murder of Berta Cáceres, to his country of Mexico.
      • The suspension of all megaprojects that have been denounced by human rights defenders,
        including the hydropower plant Agua Zarca on Rio Gualcarque, the Blue Energy project on Rio
        Cangel and all those where there has been no free, prior and informed consent in accordance
        with ILO Convention 169.
      • An end to the violence, persecution and criminalization of human rights defenders, including
        immediate special protection for members of COPINH, and the respect of the democratic rights
        to free speech and assembly for all Hondurans.
      • Protection of democratic rights to free speech and assembly for all Hondurans.
      • The declaration of Rio Gualcarque as a Sacred Heritage Site of Humanity in honor of the
        lifework of Berta Cáceres and the spiritual worldview of the Lenca people.

      We call on the U.S. government to:

      • Immediately suspend all U.S. aid, including military and “development” aid, to Honduras until
        the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights certifies that corruption in the military and
        human rights violations in Honduras have ended.
      • Use its influence in international financial institutions to cease all “development” aid to
        Honduran projects that violate human rights and/or where there has been no free, prior and
        informed consultation, in accordance with ILO Convention 169.
      • Hold U.S. corporations invested in Honduras accountable to international human rights law.
      • The immediate closure of all six U.S. military bases in Honduras.

      We condemn the patriarchy, endemic corruption, racism and militarized capitalism that have escalated in Honduras since the 2009 coup. Forces of evil cannot extinguish such a beautiful spirit. She is now part of the rivers, the mountains, and the forests that she defended so well. We will continue her struggles for women, for land, water and indigenous rights throughout the Americas. We are all Berta. Ella no murió, se multiplicó.

      Berta Cáceres, Presente!

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