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An Open Letter to Twinkle Cavanaugh's Pastor

"Pursuing justice means laboring for the protection of others as fiercely as we would our own children. A racially reconciled church requires more than just sentiments and hashtags and twitter posts. It requires the humility to listen to one another. The empathy to see things from another's perspective, the charity to give their motives the benefit of the doubt that we would want them to give to us."

—J.D. Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention

Greetings Reverend Jay Wolf,

My name is Rev. Michael Malcom. I am the Executive Director of Alabama Interfaith Power and Light. Our organization is a part of a network of 43 state affiliate organizations with over 10,000 members. I am also the Environmental Justice Representative for the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. I serve as co-chair of the Council for Climate Justice with the United Church of Christ.

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. I pray that I reach that milestone. Thank you for what I saw you saying on June 2 in downtown Montgomery on behalf of racial reconciliation. It did my heart good to hear you, admit to, and give testimony to overcoming prejudice. I would challenge you on using the word racist instead of prejudiced, being that that was what you described. I also saw that in 1992 the Southern Baptist passed a resolution owning their racist past and denouncing racism moving forward. I would suggest including a statement against systemic racism on your websites.

I learned that Twinkle Cavanaugh is a member of your congregation. Twinkle Cavanaugh is the president of the Public Service Commission for Alabama. Twinkle and the PSC have failed to deliver moratoriums to protect vulnerable people from shutoffs and they voted to allow Alabama Power to add an additional expense to struggling Alabama citizens which will increase their existing disproportionate energy burden.

During your talk at the racial reconciliation rally you spoke about the Good Samaritan. It speaks about uplifting the suffering. A Good Samaritan is one that will make personal sacrifice to help those that are suffering. A Good Samaritan ensures that those that are suffering are cared for in an equitable manner. A Good Samaritan does not increase burden on the suffering knowing that it will add an extra burden on black, brown, indigenous, and poor people. 

The disparity in income of working black families result in only $1 for every $10 of a white family’s savings. During this pandemic and economic recession, we suffered over 60 million lost jobs. Many of those jobs were low wage-earning retail and service industry jobs where black people outnumber whites 3 to 1. These unrecognized, underappreciated workers provide the essential services that carry the weight of our country on its back. Yet, these citizens of Alabama have been shown absolutely no consideration in the decision-making process.

Twinkle and the Public Service Commission have routinely voted against renewable energy, including their most recent decision earlier in June. Renewable energy, and local control, helps our brothers and sisters and it helps the planet. I think that Twinkle Cavanaugh and the rest of the Public Service Commission could use that lesson of uplifting the suffering. This is in the best interest of the public. This is in the best interest of the suffering.

I know that you have a short time left as pastor, however, I believe that your voice at a time like this could prove eternal. You could model what the Good Samaritan’s behavior was. Show Twinkle that seeing suffering and carrying on with business as usual is immoral. Model for Twinkle and the PSC what a Good Samaritan looks like. Don’t miss your moment to model your message of deliverance and compassion. Tell Twinkle and the PSC to return over-collected energy cost recovery payments. That would lift the suffering. In addition, we’re asking you to support our Testify Tuesday which highlights the negative impacts that the Public Service Commission’s decisions have on Alabama citizens. Will you be a Good Samaritan?

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