From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Hate crimes targeted by United Methodist Women

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 20 Oct 1998 13:13:03

Oct. 20, 1998	Contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York     {601}

STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - The brutal killings of Matthew Shepard in
Wyoming and James Byrd in Texas have helped spur United Methodist women
to expand their efforts in fighting hate crimes.

Directors of the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries took the action against hate crimes at their Oct.
16-19 annual meeting. The division is the administrative body of United
Methodist Women (UMW).

Shepard, a gay college student, was beaten by two men and died on Oct.
12, after five days in a coma. In early June, Byrd, an African American,
was beaten by three white men and dragged to his death behind a pickup

Directors of the Women's Division agreed to encourage UMW members to
organize and advocate for stronger hate crime laws. The division will
create resources to help members "analyze the language of intolerance
among groups that use religious language and emotionally charged images
to camouflage their intention."

The division also will:

* Provide funding to community-based networks that provide education for
* Track hate crimes through the news media and other sources, and engage
in a media campaign to promote tolerance and report hate crimes.
* Provide biblically based resources that address hate crimes and
intolerance, and work on an interfaith level to create worship resources
promoting tolerance.
* Work with grass roots and national organizations to create joint
strategies that address hate crimes.
* Contact all state governors, urging them to appoint a task force to
investigate hate crimes.
* Work through local organizations and schools to review policies and
training programs related to discrimination and sexual harassment.

"United Methodist Women have historically been proactive about issues of
race and gender," said Lois Dauway, assistant general secretary for
Christian Social Responsibility. "We must act to stop the increasing
incidents of hate crimes in our society." 

A resolution on global racism passed by the 1996 United Methodist
General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, states that
United Methodists will work "in coalition with secular groups to monitor
and actively combat the activities of hate groups, extremist groups and
militia groups in the United States and other parts of the world."

In other business, division directors voted to send one or more
delegates to several events, including a peace meeting in The Hague,
Netherlands; The Older Women's League national convention, Nov. 6-8, in
Washington, D.C.; the Religious Organizing Against the Death Penalty
Project Conference, April 8-11, in San Antonio, Texas; the Jobs With
Justice meeting, Feb. 26-28, in Louisville, Ky.; and the Second Cultural
Environment Movement Convention, March 25-28, in Athens, Ohio.

Directors also agreed to contribute $15,000 to support the Jubilee
2000/USA Campaign, an ecumenical and secular coalition aimed at reducing
the global debt crisis.

United Methodist News Service
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