Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Office of Public Witness Director Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II Leads Prayer Following First Ever Congressional Hearing on Solitary Confinement

Closing prayer and message given by Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, II during the religious leaders’ breaking of the fast at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture Press Conference (NRCAT). The press conference followed the first ever hearing on solitary confinement. Religious leaders participated in the 23 hour fast representing the number of hours that persons are allowed under the present law to be held in solitary confinement.

Let us pray.
Gracious and Eternal Creator, we thank for allowing us to stand one more time in your name. We give thanks that You allow us to stand through this public witness in obedience to Your will. Consecrate our fast, that it may be a light upon the hill to those who are bound by incarceration, and detention. We come asking that You be with those suffering in solitary confinement. And, may the hearings today be a new beginning to much needed reform throughout our criminal justice system. Let our collective witness beyond religious affiliations be a beacon of light for the world to see our witness and follow Your will as we have been guided to remember in our fasting and prayers. We pray in the name of the Sovereign Creator who gives us life, health, and strength to make a difference. Amen.  

As an Interfaith group of justice advocates, we are engaged in fasting to remind and be reminded of our common commitment to end prolonged solitary confinement, while reinforcing our commitment to our Creator and one another. Our fasting is not for display; however, our public presence here today is a collective witness on behalf of our brothers and sisters who undergo mental, emotional, and spiritual torment while in solitary confinement.   
            We fasted for the past twenty-three hours to sound the alarm, for our prophetic traditions call us to speak truth in love to power, while alerting our nation to engage in this struggle against the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical lockdown of the human spirit encountered by persons who are incarcerated and detained throughout the world. 
            We fasted to symbolize the deep spiritual hunger and relational void that many encounter while held in isolation from other human beings.
            We fasted for righteousness’ sake, while acknowledging our own human frailty.  We recognize that only our Creator is perfect in both will and Spirit.  While we are seeking to be used by the Almighty we offer ourselves in humble submission to the only help that we know who can overturn wayward powers and principalities in this present age.
We fasted and prayed that our President and our Congress can one day see the global vision of reforming laws, so that love may be the ethos of our engagement, even with those persons who are guilty of crimes. We believe that this effort can begin with making it illegal to hold human beings in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours.
Now, we publicly break our fast by partaking of this bread which symbolizes our collective belief that through our standing together in solidarity within our various faith traditions, our Creator will break open new possibilities through us and others while we hold the light of awareness on this critical issue of our day. We break the fast, but not our commitment to end prolonged solitary confinement.