The continuous rise of hate language and atmosphere across the American social and political landscape of the 21st century erupted in hate-filled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. The hatred of one race for other races in our beloved America tears the seamless gown of our Lord and breaks the heart of our nation that embraces the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.
While there has been (through Monday morning) an absence of moral outcry and presidential leadership against the white nationalist extreme segments of our society, Christian faith must respond with denunciation and condemnation. Our vows of Christian baptism call us to accept and exercise the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Evil, injustice, oppression reside in and confront the American people in the acts of violence in Charlottesville and in every other expression of racial superiority, privilege, and discrimination across our land.
In the strongest terms possible we must denounce and resist every effort to promote unrest and violence of one race against others. Such temperament and action do not exhibit the highest of American ideals and do not promote the building up on one another in love and decency and civility. Love, decency, and civility surely receive the embrace of all three major streams of religion that trace themselves through Abraham. These we must support among the peoples of America.
As I said in the sermon of last Sunday (August 13, 2017), whenever these extreme white nationalist hate groups exhibit the Nazi flag and Hitlerian salutes, they fly in the face of the ideals of the free world that valiantly resisted such fascist ideologies during the Second World War. Such groups attack the fiber of our nationhood and have no place among us. As Americans and as Christians, we have taken our stand against them, and we must not tolerate them now – in Charlottesville or anywhere else.
As we move forward in our national life, let us remember the prophetic voice of those who have gone before us:
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” (M.L. King, Jr.)
Hear in your heart another voice of profound wisdom:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. (Nelson Mandela)
Remember President Kennedy’s citation from Dante’s Inferno:
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”
And then again, be nurtured by President Kennedy’s address to the United Nation’s General Assembly on September 25, 1961:
Terror is not a new weapon. Throughout history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or example.
But inevitably they fail, either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats.
Let us each, then, examine our conscience on these matters, draw strength from our baptism, and stand in a way that will honor our Lord, that will resist evil, and that will further the reign of God among us.