Clergy Coronavirus Press Conference
Friday, March 13, 2020 Jay Leach
Good afternoon. I am Jay Leach, one of the ministers of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte.When the president spoke in Charlotte just two weeks ago, he proclaimed: “Our country is stronger than ever before . . . ” “Jobs are booming . . . incomes are soaring, poverty has plummeted, confidence is surging . . .”And, he claimed, “America has now become the hottest economy anywhere on the planet Earth.”
Yesterday, just 13 daysafter the president’s audacious assertions,the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve is making “vast sums of short-term loans available on Wall Street.” Why free up a trillion-and-a-half dollars? To prevent, it said, “ominous trading conditions from creating a sharper economic contraction.”
Our Federal Reserve is now taking extreme steps because, our economy, touted with such hyperbole just days ago, is proving to be feeble, fragile match for the rampaging virus infecting our nation and world. The economic system now needs drastic, desperate help to slow its precipitous, perilous plunge.
magine then, the plight of those already vulnerable—
those lacking access to health care,
those facing eviction or the discontinuance of utilities,
those caged in our prison industrial complex
or carrying the burden of a record,
those depending on a school system or a soup kitchen to eat,
those belittled, ostracized and oppressed
because of where they are from,
who they are or for who they love.
If our capitalist system is not up to the challenges of this virus,
what of those long marginalized bythat system? If Wall Street, if Wall Street, needs a massive hand up and handout what might those on our streets need to survive these ominous times?
We join as Charlotte religious leaders in an appeal to the many who make up our city’s thousands of congregations
to act responsibly where health is concerned,
to act compassionately
where the needs of our neighbors are concerned.
Amidst mixed, often contradictory messaging, we trust what science is telling about this virus. We urge our colleagues and congregations to do the same. As you make decisions about participation in your congregation, as you make decisions about continuing to gather, please set such decisions in the context
of our fragile public health system—asking not just “what is good for us?” but rather, “what is good for all of us?” We appeal to the quaint, almost forgotten virtue of . . . the common good.
If our nation’s shared coffers can be opened so widely to prop up fragile investors in these times, surely our community’s hearts and minds can be opened generously, both in the ways we make responsible decisions about our own gatherings, and in the ways we respect, honor and support those on the margins.