As followers of a just and loving God, we condemn the deplorable, racist terror that erupted this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. We stand in solidarity with those putting their bodies on the line to resist hate. We recognize that bigotry comes not from “many sides,” as President Trump initially stated, but from a warped ideology that threatens the sacred dignity of people of color.
We also stand in prayer with the family of the murdered justice activist, Heather Heyer, as well as with the families of the state troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, whose lives were lost in the crash of the helicopter from which they were monitoring the conflict.
To those who have worked for racial justice for decades and those are mobilizing for the first time: May you have the vision to imagine beloved community, the resilience to sustain you for the work ahead, and the courage to challenge hate in all its forms. We stand together in this sacred work.
In a time such as this, these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonate so strongly and remind us of how we must ground ourselves lest we become victims of the possibility of retribution:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
from Strength to Love, 1963
As additional fascist, racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic groups plan rallies in the Bay Area, we recognize that no community is immune to hate. White supremacy doesn’t always hide behind a hood or a Swastika, but lurks in our congregations and our classrooms and inhabits our economic and social policies. We urge all people of faith to dismantle white supremacy in its many forms, and invite your partnership in the work of preparing spiritually rooted leaders with the vision, resilience, and capacity to bring about the world we pray for when we say, “your kin-dom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Resources & Reflections
We will keep this page updated with resources and reflections from the PSR community and beyond. If you have resources you wish to share or relevant events you’d like us to announce, please email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Space for prayer and reflection Rev. Ann Jefferson, Director of Community Life and Spiritual Care, is setting up space for quiet reflection and prayer on PSR’s campus. Rev. Ann shares, “Should students feel a need to gather to express those things that have emerged for you or simply to have someone offer the witness of silent presence, please let me know or stop by the Office of Community Life – know that I am praying with and for us all!” Email Rev. Ann at email@example.com
- Tender Flesh: Charlottesville, White Supremacy and Resistance as Revelatory Vulnerability Professor Sharon Fennema shares her experiences with direct action and resistance as a spiritual practice.
- Denouncing the Violent Privilege of White Christianity Dr. Susan Abraham, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, reflects on toxic theologies of exclusion.
- The Confederacy, Charlottesville, and California Erin Burns, Marketing and Communications Director, explores the historical context surrounding the racist violence erupting across the country.
- Ignite Webinar: Dealing with White Supremacy in Faith Communities Our Ignite Institute offers tools to help faith communities and leaders engage in conversation about white supremacy.
- Ignite Webinar: Worship Resources for #BlackLivesMatter Former Ignite Director Jakada Imani and Director of Worship Life Sharon Fennema discuss worship resources for centering and honoring Black Lives.
- Words for White Christians Blyth Barnow (MDiv ’17) crafted these reminders that our faith calls white Christians to stand against racism.
- The Charlottesville Syllabus: The University of Virginia’s Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation assembled these resources on the context of white supremacy in Charlottesville.