Statement on Charlottesville Events: Naming and Repenting Evil
Executive Committee of the Florida Council of Churches
In every generation the face of evil appears, bringing death and confusion. We speak against this evil. On the weekend of August 11-12, 2017, white supremacists committed acts of terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia, including intimidating the church at prayer Friday night and causing the death of innocent persons on Saturday. The life of Heather Heyer, 32, was taken maliciously as she was marching for love and justice. The lives of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, both officers in the Virginia State Police, were lost as they sought to maintain order. We offer their families our love, sympathy and prayers for consolation and justice. To the leaders and people of Charlottesville, especially the interfaith group Congregate Charlottesville, we stand in solidarity to your witness to truth and peace.
The appearance of the evil of racism in undeniable form is a moment of discernment for the nation. History is judging us all by our response to the events in Charlottesville and elsewhere. The terrorism there does not stand alone. The same groups that generated it also moved a young white supremacist to murder the Charleston Nine at Mother Emanuel in Charleston on June 17, 2015. White supremacist hate groups have an ongoing campaign of American terrorism that has killed hundreds of people since 2001, either in recognized terrorist acts or in individual hate crimes. The anti-Semitism they espouse rightfully deserves unequivocal condemnation.
Evil must be named and confronted as evil. There can be no equivocation or moral equivalency about it. Every political, religious, community, and business leader who calls racism, white supremacy, and American terrorism evil has spoken truly and is to be commended. Any leader who demurs from naming this evil is creating a safe haven for it and must be called to repentance. We owe the innocents whose lives have been taken this dignity, and we owe our own souls this truth.
On Sunday, August 13, and throughout the week following, people of faith and goodwill have gathered across the country in vigil and prayer to remember Heather and Officers Cullen and Bates. Our national remembrance includes commitments to address racism and white supremacy directly. In response to this American terrorism, municipalities have removed from prominence in public spaces the symbols and monuments that white supremacists and their affiliates use as their rallying points.
In this moment of discernment, the nation is revisiting its past. For 150 years, we have been blind to the reign of terror in African descent and other communities and deaf to their cries of injustice. We have allowed a false narrative of racial preference and virtue to hide evil. It is incumbent upon all of us that with opened eyes and unstopped ears we see and hear the truth. The best religion and science tell us that the historic rationales for racism and racial disparities are lies about our common humanity. In naming evil in our generation, we must also affirm a future beyond that evil.
Let us embrace the truth that there is no biological distinction among us that determines separate races; rather, each one of us is created in the image of God. We are brother and sister to each other. Let us continue working together to ensure that all of us enjoy the fruit of God’s creation, for the endemic racism embedded in culture and the marketplace has been the means to deny well-being to a great many in this country and around the world. Together, let us choose the Beloved Community as our purpose and desire.
Rev. Dr. Raymond Johnson, President
Rev. James G. Golden, Esq., Secretary
Ms. Lynda Mack, CPA, Treasurer
Rev. Dr. Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director