The following statement is being circulated by the
California Council of Churches and will be released to the press on May
24th at a Forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Please do whatever
you can to motivate clergy and church leaders of any faith to fax to the
Council their response as signators by May 21st. Additionally, IF YOU ARE
WILLING TO SIGN THE STATEMENT THOUGH YOU ARE NOT CLERGY, please DO respond
by fax by May 21st, indicating that you are a lay supporter of the statement.
Thanks so much. Please post this on list-serves and spread it widely. --
PUBLIC STATEMENT ON PROP. 227
May 14, 1998
Please join California Church IMPACT in a public statement
challenging the present political attacks on bilingual education and the
efforts to restrict and criminalize the use of languages other than English
in California's public schools.
Beyond contentious issues of the merit or quality of specific
bilingual education programs across the state, the present attacks touch
on something much deeper than preferred methods of language instruction
or differences in political agendas. We believe they probe the very essence
of what it means to create and sustain a diverse, humane, and just society
where all persons are validated and have voice.
Is the English language truly the crucial, uncompromising
glue which binds us together as a society, so much so that children or
adults in our communities who have not yet acquired English must be forced
to learn it under extreme, untested, and time-limited conditions? Or does
this kind of civic language restriction destroy the respect for diversity
and humanity which we preach, and which must be at the base of any just
and democratic society? We believe without a doubt that the latter is true.
Please read carefully the enclosed press statement, and
fax the sign-up form to me by Thursday, May 21st. A special Forum will
be held on Sunday, May 24th, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco entitled,
"The Sacredness of Language: What's at Stake in the Bilingual Education
Debate?" We want to be prepared to distribute this statement to the press
at that event. If you are willing to speak to the press in the days following
the statement's release, please so indicate by adding your telephone number
to the response form.
Scott D. Anderson Executive Director California Church
A Statement in Support of the Sacredness of the Languages,
Cultural Identities, and Humanity of All Persons
As clergy and other religious leaders who seek to live
our public and private lives in witness to deeply held moral and religious
beliefs and convictions, we the undersigned feel compelled to speak out
publicly against the restrictive and dehumanizing efforts in California
and the nation to forbid and even criminalize the use of languages other
than English in schools and public institutions.
God’s creation is richly diverse; multiple languages give
voice and personal expression to millions of human beings, unique and valuable
like ourselves, within this created diversity.
The United States has always been a nation of immigrants,
as well as the globe’s grandest experiment in nation-building across diverse
racial, ethnic, linguistic, class, and faith communities. Throughout its
history our country has never tolerated the imposition of one official
political party or one faith tradition. On what moral grounds, with what
definition of justice, would we now impose the restriction of only one
language – English – in schools and public institutions?
While a shared language is unquestionably useful for effecting
national communication and dialogue, the use of one language should not
be radically imposed through measures which are unfounded in research,
which jeopardize children’s access to equal education, and which take away
parents’ and communities’ rights to choice in the education of their children.
Strong democracies are built by binding together in complex, messy, practical
and symbolic, but necessarily just ways, the hopes and energies and voices
of many diverse persons and communities. They are weakened and finally
undermined when these diverse persons and communities are stripped of their
voices – that is, their language – which is a key element of their cultural
identity and their basic humanity. (END)
Please add my name as signator to the Statement in Support
of the Sacredness of the Languages, Cultural Identities, and Humanity of
Name as you would like it to appear (please print): ___________________________
Institution (church, synagogue, judicatory, university,
Do you wish to have your institution listed with your
name? Yes ________ No ________
Are you willing to have your telephone listed next to
your name, in order to receive calls from the press about this statement?
Yes _________ No ________
If YES, please indicate the telephone number to be listed:
Please indicate here if you wish to sign the Statement
as a LAY SUPPORTER rather than as clergy ________
Please fax this response form by Noon, Thursday, MAY 21st
to: Scott Anderson California Chruch IMPACT Fax (916) 442-3036
California Church IMPACT 1300 N. Street Sacramento, CA
95814 Phone: (916) 442-5447
Thank you for your support!