Ecumenical Leaders' Group Response to Heinous Acts of Racial Bigotry and Hatred
and President Trump's Reactions
August 13, 2017
Re: Charlottesville and President Trump's Response
As Faith Leaders in Maryland, we join our voices with many others around our state and throughout the country in condemning the acts of hatred and violence seen in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. These heinous acts, perpetrated by white nationalists and other racist groups, are the face and language of modern day hatred and bigotry. These acts do and should continue to shock us and the escalating violence against the foundations of our pluralistic democracy should alarm all people of good will.
We are confident that preachers across our country stood in pulpits today and spoke against the sin of racism. We are confident that many people of all faiths offered prayers for healing, for justice, and for peace. Inasmuch as we are confident in these things; as people of faith and leaders in the faith community we affirm that our prophetic voices should not be confined to our places of worship. In many of our faith traditions, to “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” is a central commandment which unites us and calls us to stand in solidarity with courageous leaders of other faiths, and most of all, it compels us to action. Therefore, we urge Christians and people of other faiths to join us in:
• Demanding that President Trump condemn racism and bigotry by name and do so persuasively and consistently, affirming the basic values of our constitution that ALL people are created equal
• Seeking out and engaging every opportunity for building inclusive communities that have a zero tolerance for violence in any form, including hate speech
• Making public statements affirming that symbols matter and that while history is important and teaches us valuable lessons, symbols that honor and celebrate values contrary to those of justice and compassion have no place in today's public spaces, which must be places that are safe, affirming, welcoming and hospitable to all people
• Honing skills that will allow us, when necessary, to confront the perpetrators of racist violence with non-violent means with the goals of bridging the divides and restoring our culture and our country to its position as a leader in human and civil rights.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." We believe that yesterday's violence and hatred indeed proves these are times of challenge. We invite the Faith Community and all those of good will to join us in courageous action for the sake of the soul of our country and on behalf of all those victimized by the violence of racism and hate.
Rev. Mary D. Gaut, Chairperson of the Ecumenical Leaders Group of Central Maryland
Rev. Dellyne Hinton, Chairperson of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council
Rev. Dr. Franklin Lance, Executive Director of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council
*The Ecumenical Leaders Group is made of the bishops, presidents, executives of Christian denominations in Maryland called together by Central Maryland Ecumenical Council. The ELG meets five times a year and we address, with one voice larger justice issues.