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A Response to Charlottesville

from On Earth Peace

On Earth Peace stands with the Church of the Brethren, its pastors, leaders, agencies, and members, in rejection of the racist violence and white supremacist intimidation on display once again in Charlottesville, Virginia (August 12, 2017).

The “Unite the Right” marchers chanted words of hatred against Jews, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those who were targeted in these chants, to the injured, and to the families of those who have died. We are outraged and horrified that anyone should have to experience such physical and spoken cruelty against their very being with threat of violence.

We want all those who experienced this onslaught of rejection and threat to know that we hear the false equivalency in some of the arguments being made. These arguments are designed to minimize and deflect attention away from the utter moral repugnance of the hatred you have suffered. For example, we hear the false equivalence in these statements:

  • The core issue has to do with the placement and maintenance of a statue (instead of naming the long and painful history of slavery, oppression, and violence which the statue represents)
  • There was violence on all sides (instead of naming the harmful, violent message of the marchers which initiated and incited violence and which was responsible for the deaths and injuries of nonviolent counter-protesters).
  • The focus should be on the driver of the car that killed one and injured nineteen to make sure he is prosecuted (as if this heinous act was isolated from the purpose, encouragement, and message of the sponsoring hate groups). 

We welcome the guidance of all targeted persons in deepening our awareness and understanding as we seek to awaken ourselves as a majority white denomination to the urgency of backing up our commitments with action. We have acknowledged:

"We must see that the denial of basic human rights and the violence and counter-violence that terrorize humanity are all related; we cannot address one without addressing the others. They are connected."
1986 Annual Conference statement “Making the Connection”

Given the violence inherent in all forms of hatred and discrimination against marginalized people, we recognize that the church must not stand by in silent indifference or passivity. OEP reaffirms its commitment, following the example of Jesus, to come alongside those who have been marginalized and targeted for hatred and to support them in their leadership toward a more just world.   

In Faith & Hope,

OEP Board of Directors and Staff

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