The recent comments by the President of the United States toward Haiti and other majority black nations around the world are appalling, to say the least. Such disrespect of sacred human beings is unbecoming, especially when coming from the office of President of the United States.
This week, as a nation, we remember the life and tragic assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. President Trump’s comments at this time are especially disturbing to those of us who have spent our whole lives fighting for equality. These comments help to further destroy the civil discourse our nation needs to have concerning equality and respect for all human beings.
We fear that it will also lead to further acts of discrimination and violence against minorities, immigrants, and others who are considered “different”. To those who harbor hatred in their hearts, President Trump’s comment could be an inciting factor that nudges them toward violent acts.
Although put in cruder language than usual, candidate and president Trump has expressed similar racist ideas before. The very frequency of such racist (or misogynistic or anti-GLBTQ) statements poses the danger of deadening our moral senses to the denigration of our brothers and sisters. We, as members of the Progressive Religious Coalition of Augusta, oppose such racist and bigoted comments and behavior. We believe that God calls us to respect every person, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Failing to do so allows open bigotry to become the new normal.
Every person of faith believes in their own way that we have a spark of the Divine within us. To attack anyone is to attack that spark of the Divine. It is our duty as religious people to stand up to such attacks and to demand that such behavior cease.
Jesus was subjected to this same type of disparagement when in John 1:45-46 we read, “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.”
Likewise, we find in the Hebrew Scriptures, “Have we not all one father, has not one God created us all?” (Malachi 2:10)
Our respective religious backgrounds and traditions urge us to look inward and find the racism that lives in each of our hearts and to work to remove it. We must all work together toward this goal of ending oppression and racism in order to make any real progress.
As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
It is our prayer that you will find the courage and strength to stand with us as we oppose racism and bigotry where ever they exist.