GLOVERSVILLE - Rabbi Dennis Ross, director of the Concerned Clergy for Choice, spoke to a crowd of almost 20 Tuesday about contraceptives, issues concerning abortion and the separation of church and state at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.
Ross began the night with a look back 50 years to when these issues began getting coverage from the media, and pointed out that the same issues are still being debated in politics.
The clergy was heartsick that women were being sexually abused and assaulted by people who claimed to be doctors because they didn't have health care, Ross said. Some clergy members decided to form Concerned Clergy for Choice.
Rabbi Dennis Ross and the Rev. Ralph English talk after Ross’ speech on abortion and contraceptives Tuesday at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Gloversville.
The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini
"I think it's important [to talk about it], especially with people who support the access to women's healthcare that includes birth control and safe abortions," he said.
He also explained that some religious officials understand these problems can occur, and is surprised that other people don't realize that sometimes.
"We recognize that intimacy enhances the bonds of a relationship outside of marriage," Ross said. "We've been talking about intimacy since The Bible. Adam and Eve were intimate, so it's sort of surprising to me that some people think religion sees something wrong talking about intimate life which is a part of our faith."
Ralph English, the church's pastor, explained he wanted Ross to come speak about these issues because the church's congregation has always been at the forefront of social issues.
English said the congregation at the church helped start Planned Parenthood; Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Family Counseling Center in the city.
"The people [of this congregation] have always been moved by, 'What do we have to do on the behalf of the disenfranchised?" he said. "Because church is so often about individuals thinking it's about a scheme and one-upmanship, but it's all about service and giving and opening one's arms to people who are in need."
Another point Ross made was for people to call policy makers they agree with and express their concerns. He said that when policy makers and politicians begin getting 10 calls a day about a topic, they will realize that something is going on, and they're going to look into the issue.
This point stuck with those in attendance, and the attendees agreed with Ross that people should make these calls to state and federal politicians.
"You have to continue to be out there, expressing everything to politicians. Don't assume that he's on your side," Gloversville resident Mark Finkle said. "It's about supporting the people that support you. They don't hear that. They hear the negative. They don't hear the support."