Statement of Conscience
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

We, the undersigned clergy, and people of faith and moral concern, call upon Tennesseans and all Americans to recognize hard-earned lessons from the past to protect freedom and liberty now.

Unchecked power gives rise to authoritarianism, resulting in disastrous effects on human and planet life. The United States is still reeling from two hundred and fifty years of slavery made possible by faith traditions who were complicit then and today in continued bondage to racist systems. The church and religious community in Germany failed to rebuke the growing concentration of power of the Third Reich as various groups were targeted for discrimination and death, including all persons of Jewish heritage and practice; minorities; those of different sexual orientation; those with mental illness or disability. World history tells us that had the church in Germany and its religious institutions been more intentional and organized in rebuking the beginnings of Nazism, at least six million Jewish lives and 70-85 million lives globally might have been spared. Destruction and institutionalized bias does not happen in an instant. It creeps in under charismatic leaders who exploit fears to their own advantage by denigrating others.

Today, we witness the unlawful deployment of United States troops into our cities against the request of state and/or local officials; scapegoating against people of color and religion; attacks against the free press, the scientific community and the judicial system. Suppression of the vote is now at hand.

History is repeating itself in many forms.

We must speak, as we know

"There is no liberty without morality, no freedom without responsibility, [and]
no viable 'I' without a sustaining 'we.'" Jonathan Sacks

We will not be silent.

We will
* exercise the sacred right to vote our conscience and encourage others to do the same;
* advocate for racial and economic policies that promote the common good through respectful and civil discourse within religious communities and circles of influence;
* call out all labels that desecrate the inherent worth of each person, and lead others to engage in conversation, speeches, sermons and study that deconstruct labels used to divide the human family, and
* stand against the oppression of those whose human rights are trampled upon until “all are created equal” resounds not only in word, but in practice.

Democracy calls us to this challenge. Our Creator demands that we rise to it.
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