Long Island bishop issues letter regarding political activity

Posted Apr 13, 2016

[Episcopal Diocese of Long Island] Long Island Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano issued the following letter April 13 in advance of a scheduled Republican Party fundraiser to be held Thursday on the same block where in 2008 an Ecuadorean immigrant was fatally stabbed by a white teenager. The teenager was one of a gang of high school boys who roamed the streets committing nighttime assaults on Latino men in Patchogue, a Long Island community 60 miles from Manhattan.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I write to you as a follower of Jesus Christ, a bishop of the Church, and a child of an immigrant family.

I write to assure you that in the face of the reckless and hateful attitudes portrayed by some in this political season, there are many more people of good will and faith that stand with you against the toxic, irresponsible rhetoric of some of the candidates for president.

Specifically, you should know that the planned fundraiser by the Republican Party in Suffolk County featuring Donald Trump, just yards away from the scene of the 2008 murder of Marcelo Lucero, will not go unmet by people of prayer and good will.

As a person responsible for the care of God’s people, I want you to know that we in the diocese understand what a difficult and scary time this is for each of you and your families. That is why I am asking the clergy and people of the Diocese of Long Island to join me in prayer and witness against the evil that once visited itself upon the Town of Patchogue, and is now threatening a return by the calculated and disgraceful plan to have this event at the very site of this hate crime in which young, white, high-school boys were encouraged to act in violence by the anti-immigration rhetoric of some of the then-elected officials.

The same mistakes cannot be repeated. We cannot and will not allow another season of violence to be initiated for the gain of some seeking political office.

Some may want to say that my call to witness and prayer is a violation of the separation of church and state. Let me be clear then, my focus is not the political process or the endorsement of any candidate, but rather the exercise of my role as a bishop of the church, to protect God’s people and especially those in my diocese.

It is my job to oppose evil, ignorance, and sin. This planned “political event” in Patchogue meets all three criteria.  Either the organizers are ignorant of the days when there appeared to be open season on immigrants—especially day-workers and their families—or the entire event is designed to reignite the hatred that existed and use it for political gain. Either way, you should know that the church stands with you. And we will continue to stand with you, as in the past, against the ignorance and violence of those who focus on hate and seek to draw others into their fear of people who are different from themselves.

In Jesus Christ we are all one body, brother and sisters of each other. United we will face the ignorance of those who seek to divide us in fear. Together we will build bridges of love and acceptance, not walls of fear and intolerance. Together we will seek to respect and admire the differences that make us unique children of God and build a community in which all are seen as equal and all know the dignity that is incarnate in our humanity.


The Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano

Bishop of Long Island


Comments (20)

  1. Ed Lane says:

    “Some may want to say that my call to witness and prayer is a violation of the separation of church and state.” Correct, he is on a slippery slope. As the clergy should have spoken out against Hitler though our clergy needs to speak out against Trump and his ilk…they are cousins.

    1. Dr. William A Flint, MDiv, PhD says:

      You have no idea what Hitler was like and to compare Trump to Hitler is offensive. Refrain from judging because the scripture clearly states that belongs to God and God alone.

  2. Thomas Hofer says:

    Dear Mr. Lane, Hitler faced opposition from clergy such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer who made a name for himself beyond his life and who was not alone in doing so. In every case, I support Bishop Provenzano and commend him for the letter he wrote.

    1. Ed Lane says:

      Bonhoeffer and some others did, but they waited too late underestimating the entire situation…read history. This Trump fellow needs to be stopped now but too many clergy in this country are also waiting. Part of that of course is the fault of the media who have supported his candidacy and have not spoken out. What are we to do, wait until this nut is in office and then worry about it. Like Hitler in “Mein Kampf”, Trump is clearly laying out his intentions to us.

  3. Frank Riggio-Preston says:

    Bless this bishop for speaking out against hate

  4. Paris Coffey says:

    Dear Bishop Provenzano,

    Thank you for your faithful witness and may God bless you in your continued work. If I was in NY right now instead of Chicago, I would stand with you in physical presence. As it is, I stand with you in prayer.

  5. Dick Garber says:

    I am so proud of Bishop Provenzano’s forceful statement. It only begs the question of why so many others in leadership positions, lay and religious, remain silent in the face of evil. God bless Bishop Provenzano.

  6. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas says:

    I am very grateful for the prayerfulness and the moral clarity of Bishop Larry’s statement. Whatever our station in life, wherever we happen to live or work, whatever our particular sphere of influence, each of us is called to bear witness to the transforming love of God that unites, rather than divides, and that stands with those who are excluded and marginalized.

  7. The Rev Dr Margaret Shepard says:

    This bishop has the blood of Jesus on his ling white robe.

  8. The Rev. Juan V. George says:

    “The truth shall make you free”
    Juan V. George

  9. The Bishop’s letter was great – May God continue to bless and the Holy Spirit empower him. He is not, however, on a slippery slope (as one commentor noted) with politics and religion. The separation of church and state – in both the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling, has to do with the Federal government not establishing or inhibiting any religion in the US. Religions can say and do whatever they feel called to. Remaining silent in the face of injustice, hate, violence, racism, bigotry, climate change because some claim it’s “political” is not what we are meant to do legally. We need to remember this important distinction.

    1. Ed Lane says:

      And you need to remember that the people are guaranteed freedom FROM religion also. We have far too many denominations already interfering with the rights of all. Your right to wing your arm end where the other fellow’s nose begins and your freedom of mouth ends at the other fellow’s ear. Too many religious leaders forget that.

      If this bishop really believes in his cause he should lead his flock into the arena where Herr Trump is speeking and confront him. A true leader leads from the from and does just say why don’t you and him go fight.

    2. Norman Hutchinson says:

      Thank you for those comments and the clarification. There is an issue with the IRS and tax exempt status for Churches. As Christians however we cannot let this silence our voices when we see injustice.

      1. Norman Hutchinson says:

        My above comments were in response to The Rev. Vinnie Van Lainson.

  10. McKinley Walker says:

    May God bless the bishop and his holy intention, in Jesus name. Amen.

  11. Br. John Ryan, O.C.P. says:

    All American Citizens have a right to speak there minds. As a voting member of this society I stand
    with Bishop Provenzano, he as I have a right and duty to speak up, coming from his system of belief.
    Right-winged Bible thumpers seem to think they are the only ones who can speak for Christian People,
    that is not so. Good job Bishop, yours and the voices of others in leadership must be heard.

  12. Doug Desper says:

    Oppose evil and injustice in all its forms. One wonders when the protest and indignation will swell towards candidate Hillary Clinton who responded to Chuck Todd on April 3, 2016 on Meet the Press: “When or if does an unborn child have constitutional rights?” Todd asked. “Well, under our laws currently, that is not something that exists. The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights”. (Clinton said).
    The Episcopal Church has been derelict in duty towards the unborn and mothers in crisis to help them affirm a life choice. In an age of less abortions, increased science which affirms unborn life, and new parents watching their unborn move in ultrasound this Church is silent. Silent towards partial birth abortion where the child was removed 3/4 from the womb and killed. Silent towards the harvesting of human organs and parts by Planned Parenthood. What about the Baptismal Covenant to “respect the dignity of all persons?” By our track record we are selective. Yes, speak up about all injustice — in all its forms — but stop being so predictable by selective preference to causes trumpeted by progressives and the Democrat Party.

  13. Dr. William A Flint, MDiv, PhD says:

    God is not a politician. All are welcome at the Altar no matter who they support for President of the United States. May I remind us that the Body and Blood of Christ does not belong to us. This is a gift from God. Stop acting like babies and grow up.

  14. Rev. Mark H. Hatch says:

    Thank you, Larry. I am proud to know you and to have, in some small way, once ministered alongside you, long ago. Keep the faith, and share it too.

  15. Richard Bidwell says:

    Thank you for the courageous and wise words.

Comments are closed.