African American Clergy Respond to Charlottesville
It is with deep and profound conviction and righteous indignation that we denounce the march for hatred and bigotry that took place in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 12. We denounce, as well, the subsequent inflammatory and detestable words of President Donald Trump supporting the hateful actions of the KKK, Nazis and white supremacist groups. The President went to great lengths to condone the behavior and beliefs of those who espouse white supremacist values, ideology and theology. He even went so far as to say that some white supremacists are “fine” people. These “fine” people marched with torches and guns on the campus of the University of Virginia spewing racial hatred and bigotry. These “fine” people intimidated churchgoers, attacked clergy and threw bottles from the tops of steps into the crowd of counter protesters—those who were standing against their hatred, bigotry and white supremacist values. These “fine” people have a history of terrorizing African Americans, Jewish people and their allies, with lynchings, brutality, murder, rape and the most inhumane acts of violence. And, one of these “fine” people drove a car at high speed into a crowd, taking the life of Heather Hyer and injuring 19 innocent people.

We are grateful for all of our clergy colleagues and the lay leaders who were in Charlottesville standing in peaceful opposition to the “Unite the Right” march. But, we know that our work as people of faith to stand against racism, bigotry and hatred is far from over.

Appallingly, the President’s support for white supremacists has emboldened them and put the lives of African Americans, other people of color, our Jewish sisters and brothers and all people of faith who oppose their hateful agenda in danger. We are witnessing the vile and hateful rhetoric from the campaign trail being manifested into repulsive and intolerable actions right before our very eyes with a President who seems to stand in support of those who hate all non-White people.

No, Mr. President. There are not many sides. There is only one wrong side, and we now know you stand firmly and defiantly with those who are on it.

As African American clergy, we recognize and grieve the opening of deep wounds that your words, as President, and the hateful actions of white supremacists have unleashed in our communities and our nation. We have fought long and hard against the ideology, theology and violent acts that the KKK, Nazis and white supremacists have perpetrated against Black people. White supremacy is wrong. It is evil. It stands in fierce opposition to God’s word that all people are created in the Divine image. It attempts to diminish the character of Almighty God and reduces God’s people to be less than God created them to be. We stand against it and against all those who support it—either by their words, actions or by their silence in the face of such evil.

This is a moment in which we must all come together to respond and speak boldly and loudly against the kind of hatred and violence being promoted by white supremacists. We must also recognize and dismantle the oppressive systems and policies that continue to perpetuate violence and discrimination against Black people in our nation, including the criminal justice system, policing, education, wages and voter suppression. Therefore, we call on every member of Congress, denominational leader, local pastor and community advocate to speak out against this evil and to rebuke the President’s statements condoning the KKK, Nazis and white supremacists. We call on white evangelical church leaders, in particular, to speak out against the evils of white supremacy in unequivocal terms. We urge churches across the country to create safe and sacred spaces for prayer, healing, dialogue and honest conversations about the history and reality of racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism and white supremacy in this nation. Our youth and young adults especially need a place to process this assault on their being and the very soul of this nation.

The words of Mordecai to Esther echo in a moment like this: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Regardless of what position we find ourselves in, this is a moment for moral clarity. We must speak out against the evils of white supremacy in no uncertain terms and fight against every form of hatred, bigotry and violence that rears its ugly head in this nation.

As #BlackClergyUprising, we are resolved that we will not go back but instead move courageously and boldly forward toward the ideals and promise of justice and righteousness for all of God’s people.

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