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Chicago Church Removes Black Lives Matter Sign

A Chicago-based church supported the Black Lives Matter movement, and got hell for it.

Yesterday, we reported on the criticism in response Beverly Unitarian Church’s decision to display “Black Lives Matter” on its electronic sign.

The church posted what they felt was an “inspiring and thought-provoking saying,” but received threats instead.

In an emailed statement sent to JET by Board of Trustee member Linda Symons Cooper, the church explained and defended its decision to support the controversial movement.

“In June our association voted in an Action for Immediate Witness to affirm the work of the BLM movement. That combined with the work being done within this congregation, the Beverly Unitarian Church Board, a representative body, picked “Black Lives Matter” to be part of a rotating number of sayings on our electronic board.

Our hope was that the message behind these words, that for too long, Black citizens have been demonstrably less valued, could inspire us all to look at how we might change. The statement “Black lives matter” does not mean that other lives do not matter. Indeed, it is exactly the opposite. If all life matters, then paying attention to those whose lives are demonstrably less valued by society becomes a necessary response. As Universalists, we believe that all life is equally precious and everyone should have the right to thrive in an environment of peace and freedom.

We have heard strong reactions on all side of this issue including threats to our children. Our policy calls for us to engage our whole congregation in a conversation around how to proceed forward in this important work.

In the public sphere there are few places where conversation is actually happening these days. A culture of dump and run supports the status quo with no real movement. As Unitarian Universalists our seven principles include and challenge us to real conversation where caring, compassionate listening and thought filled response happens. Real change begins by doing things differently.”

The church also took to its Facebook page to double down on its stance that Black lives do matter, and explained why they removed the message from its sign:

“The BUC Board picked “Black Lives Matter” at our mid-August Board meeting. We felt the message behind these words, that for too long black citizens have been demonstrably less valued, could inspire us all to look at how we might change.

We still believe the premise of this statement.

Having started the conversation far and wide our current posting says:
“Life Matters, Risk loving everyone”

(This too shall change.)…”

The problem does not seem to be a faith-based organization’s public support for a movement that seeks to bring about change and equality for people of color. The real issue appears to be discomfort, and in many cases outward racism with things changing in America, particularly less toleration when it comes to injustices experienced by Black people.

What a shame.