Sisters and brothers:
As your pastor, I would be totally remiss if I did not speak up about the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. While the freedom of speech is something sacred in our nation, hate speech is not something we should simply tolerate or turn a blind eye to. (Inciting violence is NOT protected under the first amendment.) And while violent acts perpetrated by anyone should be denounced, it is clear that those carrying torches in hand while chanting anti-Jewish and racist tropes, were not there for a simple peaceful protest in the park. Nor were they there simply to peacefully protest the removal of a historical monument.
Perhaps like me you were shocked and appalled to witness people being run down by a car, images of folks bearing KKK and Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Neo-facist and Alt-Right Flags, shields and symbols. Most of us thought that racism was on its way out. But it has become clear that hate is alive and well here in America.
While there have been some great pronouncements against racism, many of us are disturbed by the lack of leadership from our President.
Where is the clarion call denouncing these events? Where is the clear and unambiguous pronouncement that this kind of hatred has no place in America? Where is the sharp warnings that those promoting violence and bigotry will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law?
Rather than denouncing racism in all its forms, he has sought to equate those holding Nazi ideologies with those (both clergy and laity) who came out to protest against hate. Sisters and brothers there is no equating the two. Nazis, supremacists, and the KKK do not have a corresponding group on the political Left. There is no Alt-Left.
There is no doubt that we have folks who identify as Republican, Democrat or Independent in our parish. We would never want to dictate what political party one should be part of, or what political views one should hold. Each of us are welcomed here. Each hold sacred value. But sisters and brothers, there comes a time when things go beyond mere politics. There are times when we must speak about moral and ethical issues. This is one of those times and frankly, political allegiances be damned.
Let us be clear: Hatred has no place in our hearts. Racism is a moral value. We as sisters and brothers in Christ MUST denounce these acts and rise up against this evil whenever, and wherever it rears its ugly head.