Many people have spoken so courageously about standing up against the hatred shown in Charlottesville, Virginia by the KKK, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, and Alt-Right groups. I’ve been watching, while sharing the words of others on Facebook. My stomach has churned, my emotions roiled, and my heart is sad-yet-determined. As a child who watched the courage of the Civil Rights Movement on our Black and White TV, I have had flashbacks to those days. As a seminary student who studied the Nazi movement in Germany, and specifically the religious leaders part in it, I am experiencing a depth of horror. What I learned in that study is that many religious leaders failed to speak up when the politics of the day stepped on the crux of the gospel: to love our neighbor.
Pastors today are often told not to speak politics from the pulpit. When we do, we make people mad. We, of course, know how many people we anger on a regular basis. Though it is hard, it is a part of our role in society: to speak truth even when people don’t want to hear it, and even when it touches on politics. And so today, because we have come a ways and we must never go back, and because Truth must be told, I speak out with my brothers and sisters:
This evil called racism, hate, and bigotry must be shut down. The Church cannot be silent while the world is crying out. Pastors and church attenders must step out of our comfort zones, and pews, and move into the streets with gestures of protection, love, and with a stronghold of unity. Today is the time to BE the church IN the world. Don’t come to church to be comfortable. Come to be challenged, energized, and changed. And know that the first change might just start in you.
To the United Methodist Church: now is not the time to speak of division. Shame on us for planning schism while the world is fighting hatred. We must not be distracted by our “theologies” when there is blood in the streets. Let not this blood be on our hands, because we chose to fight internally, rather than to join the world in fighting a great evil. Do not be distracted by a Split, but rather come together to follow God into the streets where Jesus is truly crying alongside those who have faced the evil, or lost lives.
To the current President: You are walking on the wrong side of history. And to those who counsel him: Do what you can to shut down the evils of war, hate groups, and racism. You too, will be written up in history. Will you be a s/hero, or an embarrassment?
To the Clergy: March with me. Don your collars, your robes, your stoles with the courageous group shown above, and be ready to march. Get trained in non-violent resistance. Preach peace. Open your eyes and your heart to learn new things. Protect those who are most hurt. Preach like you’ve never preached before. For, we too, will have a place in history.
I’ve been moved in the depth of my soul by this picture. It changed me more than the pictures of violence. We are strong. We are together. We are ready to March On!