Our Position

EquaSion statement on Israel-Hamas conflict and local implications

Our Position

EquaSion statement on recent violence against worshippers

An interfaith statement on recent violence against worshippers in sacred spaces during major religious observances

Sadly, this year the simultaneous observance of Ramadan by Muslims and Passover by Jews was marred by violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Western Wall, and other sacred spaces.  Members of all faiths should be free to worship in peace and dignity.  As interfaith partners working together as EquaSion, we acknowledge the strong ties local residents of the Abrahamic faiths have to this region of the world, and urge respect be accorded our different religious and cultural perspectives.  Locally, let us seek a common ground of compassion and collectively call to preserve the sanctity of sacred spaces of worship of all faith traditions.


EquaSion Board of Directors                                                                   May 4, 2022

Our Position

Help End the Death Penalty in Ohio

#NoDeathPenaltyOH is the official campaign to end Ohio’s death penalty. Since its reintroduction in 1981, the death penalty has proven to be an expensive, racist, arbitrary system that convicts innocent people.

The death penalty, with its brutal record of racial injustice and other myriad problems, is the epitome of all that is broken in the criminal legal system. In the death penalty system, racial bias works against defendants of color and in favor of cases involving white victims. Cases involving black victims are far less likely to result in a death sentence than cases involving white victims.

The likelihood of a death sentence reduces further if the defendant is white. And it doesn’t stop there. Racial bias infects every stage of the capital process – from prosecution to sentencing to execution. A 2020 study of Hamilton County found an impact when considering the race of the defendant: “A black defendant who killed at least one white victim faced odds of receiving a death sentence that were 3.79 times those of all other similarly situated defendants.”

There are many statistics of racial injustice connected to the death penalty referenced in this fact sheet These data demonstrate a strong correlation between race, geography and socioeconomic status and individuals sentenced to death, i.e., impoverished blacks are disproportionately sentenced to death. Compounding this issue is the disproportionate number of individuals with the same demographic characteristics who are wrongfully convicted in the first instance. Further, research on implicit bias also shows the role that race plays, even among the well-intended, in criminal sentencing, including, the death penalty.

To address this racial injustice and the myriad of problems with the death penalty, we are advocating for legislative change through HB 183 and SB 103, identical bills that would repeal Ohio’s death penalty. Both bills have strong bipartisan support, demonstrating how important repeal is to both sides of the aisle.

There are many ways people of faith and faith leaders can connect to this work in a one time or ongoing capacity. As people of faith, our voices are intregal in this campaign and we must stand up to support abolition of the death penalty.

Ohio Faith Communities for Death Penalty Abolition Week Friday October 8th – Sunday October 17th

candle light against Ohio Death Penalty
Join people of faith across Ohio to stand in solidarity for abolition of the death penalty. Recognizing the injustices in our criminal justice system, we are unwilling to participate in the cruel and inhumane practice of sentencing our fellow neighbors to death. We join together across religious traditions calling in one voice for the abolition of the death penalty.

There are several ways to participate:

Register today to participate in Ohio Faith Communities for Death Penalty Abolition Week (October 8-17, 2021).
If you have questions, please reach out to Allison Reynolds-Berry or Bekky Baker for more information.

Our Position

EquaSion Statement in Opposition to Ohio House bills 322 and 327

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”  Events following the murder of George Floyd sparked an optimism that our nation was on the precipice of long overdue racial reckoning, healing and justice for all.  The images of protests across the nation showed the power of inclusivity as people from all walks of life – young and old, multi-racial and ethnic, rich and poor, women and men – joined the fight for the cause of racial justice.

However, the pursuit for racial justice was met with sharp resistance.  Those opposed to racial equity and justice have sought to use the legal system to perpetuate the exclusion of the voices and perspectives of historically marginalized citizens of the United States of America.  Beginning with attempts to suppress the votes of Black, Indigenous and People of Color, many legislators across the nation, including Ohio, have proposed bills to reinforce existing racial hierarchies.  Through house bills 322 and 327, some legislators in Ohio seek to deny justice in the classroom by restricting access to honest, inclusive and equitable education.   Ohio’s proposed legislation seeks to ban uncomfortable truths of American history by restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts,” which is code for any teaching about race or sex that challenges the dominant narrative.   EquaSion is disheartened and concerned by these legislative efforts to white-wash American history.  Such efforts deprive students of historical facts, an inclusive education, knowledge of diverse perspectives and viewpoints and the development of critical thinking skills and instead, set the dangerous precedent that the government, not educators, decide what students will learn.

As an organization whose purpose is to promote racial equity and justice, we feel compelled to voice our commitment to honesty in education and to address misconceptions about what the sponsors of house bills 322 and 327 labeled as “divisive concepts”, i.e., critical race theory (“CRT”).  Rhetoric surrounding CRT has purposely sought to mislead the general public about the theory.   CRT has been mischaracterized as a divisive ideology that views America as a racist nation.  Under a broad interpretation of “divisive concepts,” an argument can be made that Ohio’s proposed legislation would ban teaching on concepts such as race, racism, white supremacy, privilege, justice, equity.  It could also limit teaching on content such as slavery, civil rights and women’s suffrage.

In reality, CRT originated in the 1970’s as a legal framework designed by a racially and ethnically diverse group of legal scholars.  It sought to understand and explain the social construction of race and how race and race subordination shaped the law and society.  It demonstrates the complex structural nexus between race and systems within our society, such as education, health, political and criminal legal. And, at its core, it posits that the structural nexus, not individual actors or so-called “bad apples,” perpetuates existing racial hierarchies and determines who has access to advantages in our society.  It further seeks to explain how systemic racism is interwoven with sexism, classism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia among other exclusionary systems.

The attack on inclusive, honest education cannot go unchecked.  The educational system is the marketplace for the exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge.  Our nation is gifted by its ability to produce more robust knowledge because of its multiculturalism, diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.  In an academic setting, the diversity of thought is our greatest treasure.  Restricting or censoring the teaching of race, as proposed by the legislation, ultimately deprives students of knowledge and stifles the development of critical thinking skills derived from exploring competing perspectives and substitutes political ideology for academics.

Though framed as an effort to promote unity by banning the teaching of “divisive concepts”, the bills would actually deprive Ohio students of an honest and inclusive education, restricting what they learn about our country’s history, placing government bureaucrats over teachers’ shoulders as censors, and artificially dictating a false and narrow version of the American story.    

Ultimately, the lesson learned by schools and students alike will be that difficult topics must be avoided, critical thinking discouraged, and the mistakes of the past denied.  That is the opposite of what, as adults, we must model to our young people:  that to love our country is to know its history, to seek after the truth of it, and with courage and honesty accept the rose and the thorns—face what is uplifting in our past and what is painful.  The blessing and gift of diversity did not come about simply or easily, and to move forward as “a more perfect Union” we must learn truthfully about the shared history that made us what we are.  House Bills 322 and 327, if enacted, would make that immeasurably more difficult.

In closing, EquaSion categorically condemns any efforts, legislative or otherwise, that perpetuate racial inequities and injustice.   Thank you.

Tammy Bennett, Attorney at Law, Board Member

Tamie Sullivan, Board Member

Jan Armstrong Cobb, Board Member


EquaSion is a Cincinnati-based, nonpartisan civic organization informed by interfaith dialogue that embraces more than 30 faith traditions representing 13 world religions.  Its educational programming and advocacy are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and justice for everyone.  EquaSion’s signature programs are the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths and A Mighty Stream:  An Interfaith Community of Sacred Activists for Racial Justice

Our Position

Written Testimony on Ohio HB No. 294

TO: Members of the Oversight Committee, Ohio House of Representatives


My name is Tammy Bennett and I am testifying on behalf of EquaSion, a Cincinnati-based, non partisan civic organization that involves more than 30 faith traditions representing 14 world religions in its efforts to promote inclusion, equity and justice for all. I serve on EquaSion’s board of directors.

I am testifying against HB 294 primarily for the reasons set forth below.

On November 2, 2020, Ohio’s Secretary of State LaRose stated that the estimated 3.4 million Ohioans who voted early by absentee ballot or in person shattered previous records. Now, if passed, rather than to improve upon this success and continue to expand access and modern conveniences to eligible Ohio voters, the overall effect of HB 294 would restrict access to this fundamental right. While the bill provides some positive, constructive provisions, in totality it disproportionately limits voting access for Black and Brown communities.

Here are a few of the provisions that significantly harm Black and Brown communities along with the elderly, disabled and impoverished.

HB 294 codifies a 2020 restriction limiting the number of ballot drop boxes to one per county located only at the Board of Elections. This means that larger, more diverse urban counties are limited in the number of ballots that can be collected via drop box. There is a lack of known, verifiable security or integrity risk posed by ballot drop boxes. Further, HB 294 reduces the number of days the drop boxes are available from 30 to 10. Reducing the number of early voting days does not preserve, expand and/or modernize voting access rather such provisions restrict Ohioans’ from exercising their fundamental right.

In addition to reducing ballot drop box availability, the bill also reduces the number of early voting days and hours. Significantly, the bill eliminates one of the most popular early votes days, the Monday before Election Day. It does so in spite of a record setting turnout in 2020 and with high voter turnout in prior years on this date. The legislative purpose behind the cancellation is to prepare for Election Day. This rationale does not pass muster. Preparation for an event should not take precedent over active participation in the event. Here, the bill contemplates preparation is more important than actually allowing citizens to cast their votes. Again, every provision in a bill proposing to modernize the voting process ought to expand opportunities not restrict them.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, in 2020, Ohioans submitted nearly 3.8 million applications for absentee ballots. Following this record success in 2020, HB 294 attempts to restrict the number of absentee ballots by moving the deadline up seven days, which serves no apparent purpose other than to limit the number of absentee ballots.

Additionally, other provisions of the bill further restrict Ohioans’ access to vote, including, by the way of example, requiring two forms of voter ID for registration and limiting the existing ability of the Ohio Secretary of State to prepay postage on election mail.

Even assuming, for the sake of an argument, that the bill is well-intended, its passage would disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities and negatively affect equity work. Its passage would deepen injustices by restricting the “vote-voice” of historically marginalized groups rather than promote racial equity and end systemic injustices.

In closing, I urge you to reject HB 294 in its present form and at the very least delete from its provisions those proposals that restrict voter access and are detrimental to the civic participation of our minority communities.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted:
Tammy Bennett, Attorney at Law, Member, Board of Directors
9830 Tollgate Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45242; (513) 806-9650

Our Position

Racial Incident in West Chester

To: Ann Becker, Trustee and Chair
Lee Wong, Trustee
Mark Welch, Trustee
Larry Burks, Township Administrator
Bruce Jones, Fiscal Officer

West Chester Township, Ohio

Honorable Trustees, Mr. Burks, and Mr. Jones:

We are writing to you about the incident of racism that occurred this week (11/20/20) at the home of Brian and Mia Harlan, 7737 Barret Road in West Chester. In a brash and threatening act, an anonymous hate letter was hand delivered to the Harlan’s home warning them to remove the Biden/Harris and Black Lives Matter signage on their property or face the consequences. The letter states, in part, “…this is West Chester, not Avondale, so keep your murderer types out of here… it was peaceful at one time, and if those (expletive) signs aint’ (sic) gone you are gonna be.”

View the Hate Letter

This is simply not the West Chester we know and love. We know this community as a diverse, progressive and welcoming suburb. As proud residents of West Chester, we also represent the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate, and EquaSion, a non-partisan civic organization founded upon interfaith dialogue that fosters greater understanding and respect for all people in our region. On their behalf, we have reached out to support the Harlans.

We know that West Chester Police immediately responded and are investigating this hate incident. While the Harlans have expressed their gratitude to the police, they have conveyed their understandable feelings of fear and stress from this terrible incident. No one should be made to feel fear in their homes or unwelcome in their community.

We respectfully ask you, our Trustees, to stand up and speak out. We believe it would be most meaningful for this victimized family – and this community – to be reassured by our public leadership that hate behavior is not only uncharacteristic of West Chester, but altogether unwelcome. Your involvement and exercise of leadership in this matter would send a strong message to those who would promote hate in our community.

We share the belief that one can only remove evil with good and can only remove hate with love. Let us be accountable to and for one another, and let us become more engaged in working together for the dignity and well-being of all of our neighbors. In short, let us come together as a caring community should!

We welcome your response. If there is anything EquaSion can do to assist you, please let us know. Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.


Jaipal Singh & Aasees Kaur
6425 Gem Stone Dr,
Liberty Township, 45044

Jan Armstong Cobb & Barry Cobb
9881 Bolingbroke Drive
West Chester 45241

Our Position

Voter Intimidation Incident

EquaSion response to voter intimidation incident, Hamilton County Board of Elections

TO: Gwen McFarlin, Chair; Alex M. Triantafilou, Board Member; Caleb Faux, Board Member; Charles H. Gerhardt III, Board Member; Sherry L. Poland, Director of Elections; Hamilton County Board of Elections

The reports of voter intimidation by those exercising their right of free speech are beyond concerning—they are disturbing. For Board of Elections officials to say they “are reviewing (measures being taken to ensure voters are not harassed)” speaks perhaps to the absence of a plan or a lack of training of poll workers and poll observers to identify, intervene, and diffuse situations that interfere with any voter, per Ohio law.

EquaSion stands with the Cincinnati NAACP, the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate, and others condemning any and all evidence of voter harassment during this election cycle.

Right now: EquaSion will step forward immediately to offer clergy monitors to serve as a calming force at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Further, members of our multi-faith organization will answer the call for in-person orientation of poll workers and poll observers to prepare them to constructively intervene in potential acts of voter intimidation. Thank you.

Our Position

Killing of George Floyd

Statement from Cincinnati’s Interfaith Community on the Killing of George Floyd

We, the undersigned members of more than 30 faith communities representing 13 world religions, stand united in denouncing the unconscionable killing of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department and the on-going systemic racism that corrupts justice in our country. Our prayers go out to the family of Mr. Floyd and to Minneapolis city officials our plea is that they bring the one officer to justice and continue to investigate the legal culpability of the others. While we affirm the right of protest and resonate with the public’s outcry, we deplore violence and vandalism as means of expression.

Too many African American men and women have lost their lives due to police brutality. The persistence of this injustice in spite of numerous police reforms reveals that we have much work yet to do to root out the institutional racism deeply ingrained in not only the law enforcement establishment but in all areas of society.

Our community of Cincinnati has had its own history of police mistreatment of African Americans, but to its credit the Cincinnati Police Department has owned its accountability and adopted practices and policies to lessen the potential for the use of excessive force. Prompted by civil unrest in the aftermath of a 2001 police shooting and a subsequent lawsuit that resulted in the historic Collaborative Agreement, CPD’s police-community reforms have become the model for other communities. Yet, we, too, must remain ever vigilant.

We need to stop paying lip service and honestly address the societal problems caused by our racial inequities, evidenced recently by the disparities in the infection rate of COVID-19. We must commit ourselves to eradicating systemic inequities and doing more to close the social distance gap that still exists between our racial, religious and ethnic groups. Our community’s minorities continue to be victimized by bigotry and hate.

All of our religious traditions, without exception, have tenets that call for their believers to behave toward their fellow human beings with compassion, respect and justice, and to treat every person with dignity. Accordingly, our religious convictions require us to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever it occurs. We have done so before; we do so now; and we will continue to do so.

As spiritual leaders, we share the belief that one can only remove evil with good and can only remove hate with love. We, therefore, call upon all persons of goodwill to a greater degree of personal accountability and engagement. Let us be accountable to and for one another, and let us become more engaged in working together for the dignity and well-being of all of our neighbors. In short, let us come together as a caring community should!

Our Position

Anti-Semitic Graffiti

EquaSion Statement on the anti-Semitic graffiti incident in the Madisonville-Oakley area of Cincinnati

EquaSion, a civic organization informed by interfaith dialogue and which embraces 30 faith communities and 13 world religions, condemns in the strongest possible way this despicable act of religious bigotry perpetrated against our Jewish neighbors; and we stand in solidarity with them at this time.

Our community is better than this. We are a community of compassion and we value and safeguard all faith communities for their cultural, civic and spiritual contributions to our quality of life. Our Jewish community warrants our full support as they sadly experience, yet again, a gross act of antisemitism.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Our Position

Gun Violence

Calling upon lawmakers to take action in response to upsurge in Gun Violence

TO: Federal, state and law elected officials in Southwest Ohio

We, the undersigned faith organizations, communities and individuals from across the Cincinnati region are strongly united in calling for immediate action to address gun violence in America. Collectively, we represent 30 faith traditions including 13 world religions, but across our differences, we share a belief in God and in the sanctity of life. And as people of faith, we feel a moral imperative to speak up in the wake of the most recent horrific shootings in El Paso and in our neighboring community of Dayton—where one individual, armed with a military grade weapon, killed nine people and injured twenty-seven others in just 30 seconds.

We are heartbroken, but we are no longer shocked. The shootings this past weekend are not anomalies or isolated tragedies. We have watched in horror as gun violence has invaded our churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Just this year, 131 people have died in 23 mass killings. By comparison, 140 people died in mass killings in all of 2018, including seventeen innocent children who were murdered in their school in Parkland, Florida. In too recent memory, mass killings have occurred in Colorado (2012), Orlando (2016), Las Vegas (2017) and just last year here in Cincinnati, and in each of these years, there are tens of thousands more gun-related deaths that do not make national headlines.

We recognize and respect the right of law-abiding Americans to own handguns and rifles for legitimate purposes, but we refuse to accept a dystopian future where schools, houses of worship, community centers, shopping malls, theaters, and other venues require armed security, and where children and adults are fearful of going out in public. Along with enhanced security measures and investment in mental health treatment, common-sense gun safety reform is an imperative. We urge you to do everything within your power to prioritize this issue and to enact policy changes that would keep guns out of the hands of those who are most likely to use them for criminal activity, such as red flag laws, universal background checks, restrictions on gun ownership for domestic violence offenders, regulation of “strawman” purchases, and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support these actions.

Our faith communities have a deep and abiding concern for public safety. Driven by our belief in the sanctity of life and the commandment against murder, we are committed to a comprehensive approach to confronting gun violence. No single solution will prevent all future tragedies, which is why we advocate for a balanced, multipronged approach. Reasonable gun safety measures must be a piece of that approach.

Our shared value of “compassion through action” instructs that prayer without action is just the recitation of words. The time for lawmakers to act is now.

As the residents of Dayton, Ohio said at their recent vigil, “DO SOMETHING!” Thank you.


Inayat K. Malik
Board Chair
Bridges of Faith Trialogue

Robert C. “Chip” Harrod
Executive Director

(Signed by more than 100 faith leaders.)