Local clergy denounce anti-Semitism and racism [column] | Local voices

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“A good tree bears good fruit; a bad tree bears bad fruit, ”says Matthew’s gospel. POWER Interfaith Lancaster religious leaders strongly denounce the hateful white nationalist and anti-Semitic rally held in a Lancaster County barn in August 2020, as several LNP articles recently revealed | Lancaster online.

As angry and disgusted as we may be reading this report, we are not shocked. The bad fruit of anti-Semitism and anti-black white supremacy exposes the roots of hatred behind the deeds. What these investigative stories reveal is the truth that there are deeply held beliefs in white supremacy and anti-Semitism beneath the surface in our county. There’s dirt here that bears bad fruit. This group has found allies here and a gathering place to sow hatred, lies and division. This reporting and the event itself are legitimate causes of fear and trauma among Jews and people of color. We mourn with them and fear for their safety as well, given the potential threat that exists to them here.

We are not to believe that this event is just an isolated incident involving non-residents or foreign influence entering our beloved community. Local Jews, Blacks and Hispanics witness hate speech and other acts of violence against them here.

The white Christian leaders who are part of POWER Interfaith confess our own complicity in anti-Semitic and white supremacist speeches and actions. We have not done or said enough to expose the roots of our own evil fruits that have oppressed and harmed our Jewish neighbors and our neighbors of color. White Christians must name the ways in which we have abused the scriptures and falsified the truth to tolerate white Christian power over others. And in this repentance, we share the good news that everyone, everywhere, is worthy of love, respect, care, and equal justice. The house of God is large enough for all of God’s children of all races, creeds, genders, and gender identities.

We must not believe that the white nationalist rally held here 15 months ago is only part of an unwanted marginal element that has emerged in a period of political turmoil that will recede without concerted opposition.

“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor,” wrote Ginetta Sagan. Our silence perpetuates evil, does not protect and breathes fresh oxygen on the flames of hate.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” observed Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. We wish this story had come to light much sooner. We are appalled that it has taken more than a year to gain public attention, but happy for the courageous and persistent reporting that uprooted it. The actions of these groups can incite violent acts of aggression and intimidation and authoritarian seizures of power. The story is newsworthy and compels everyone to respond with renewed judgment and vigilance. There is no neutrality when it comes to racism or anti-Semitism. Neutrality is a form of indifference to violence.

We encourage Christian leaders to stop fomenting sectarianism in their places of worship and to speak out against its existence in their religious communities and neighborhoods. We invite religious leaders to join us in our continued efforts to confront and dismantle the injustices that threaten our neighbors – especially the forms of racial, religious and economic suffering promoted by the group that gathered in our county there. at 15 months.

The answer that one of the headlines asked – “Why here?” – is, unfortunately, “Why NOT here?” The bad fruit of segregation is still evident in our public schools and in the homes of Lancaster County and Town. At local school board meetings, people seek to prevent children from learning specific information about how racism has been part of U.S. history and seek to censor books – not just by choosing to ‘preventing their own children from reading them, but trying to prevent everyone’s children from reading. them. And the “good” people complain against each other, but we rarely come forward to insist that schools must teach a precise history and provide access to literature that reflects the fullness of human experience.

Education can expose and root out bigotry. Education can also sow the seeds of genuine understanding and respect for the growing diversity of our country. But we fear that the seeds of white Christian power are spreading like a choking weed among us. We have to uproot this weed and take care of the soil. Then we can bear sweeter fruit.

This editorial is co-authored by Rev. Andrea Brown, Grandview Church; Reverend Greg Impink, Ironville United Methodist Church and Newtown United Methodist Church; Reverend Devin Jeffers, First Reformed Church United Church of Christ, Lancaster; the Reverend Jennifer Mattson, St. Thomas Episcopal Church; the Reverend John Morris; Reverend Rachel Nolt, Akron Mennonite Church; Reverend Jason Perkowski, Faith United Methodist Church and Oregon Community United Methodist Church; the Reverend Tamie Scalise, Calvary United Methodist Church, Mohnton; Reverend Israel Buffardi, Universalist Unitarian Church of Lancaster; Reverend Mark Harris, Historic Salem United Church of Christ, Columbia; the Reverend Beth Reeves; Nathan Sooy, regional director of POWER Interfaith; Reverend Matthew Carlson, Akron Mennonite Church; Greg Carey, professor of the New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary; the Reverend Amanda Knouse of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lancaster; Reverend Carla Christopher Wilson, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Lancaster; Ronald E. Ashby, Lancaster Friends Reunion.

Reverend Matthew Lenahan of the Lutheran Church in Zion is the author of this editorial on behalf of the grassroots organization POWER Interfaith Lancaster County.


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