“To our shame, overt racism is becoming more acceptable in American culture today,” writes Bishop Scott Jones, the United Methodist episcopal leader of the Texas Annual Conference, in his recent pastoral letter. “It is a deep affront to the Greatest Generation that their sacrifice in defeating racist, anti-Semitic Nazism is no longer respected. When Nazi slogans, Nazi salutes and Nazi flags are combined with racist slogans, racist chants and racist flags in public demonstrations Christians must stand up and bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. We must name evil and condemn it before it gathers strength.”
The staff of Good News wholeheartedly agrees with Bishop Jones.
Furthermore, we fully support Bishop Sharma Lewis, the episcopal leader of the Virginia Annual Conference, when she states: “We need to stand together as the people of God and have our voices heard. Our witness is lost when we as Christians do not stand up and advocate, especially in times like this. We need to denounce white supremacy, neo-Nazis and the KKK. No race is superior to any other; as Christians we know that all persons are created equal in the image of God. Our baptismal vows remind us ‘to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?'”
Our prayers are with Heather Heyer’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of a young woman killed for opposing a movement that promotes hatred and division. We also pray for the families of the two Virginia State Troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died in the line of duty in a helicopter accident as they monitored the mayhem this past Saturday. We mourn with those who mourn.
“The events in Charlottesville this past weekend are only the latest in a long series of warning signs that our on-going fight against racism needs a response and recommitment from all Christians,” concludes Bishop Jones. “Those of us who are white bear a special responsibility to make sure that our sisters and brothers from other races are supported and affirmed in this scary time and they need to know that they are not the only ones that speak up against bigotry and racism. This is a Christian responsibility.”
We join with our fellow United Methodists in the Wesleyan Covenant Association in our commitment to “work for the elimination of hatred, bigotry and prejudice, and to ensure that God’s best is fully available to every person. We proclaim that the life of Jesus is light for all people, that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
We encourage United Methodists to take seriously their spiritual discipleship to confront racism, violence, white supremacy, and the unholy misery and suffering unleashed under the swastika. Love wholeheartedly. Pray for peace.