August 15, 2017 — The Israel Palestine Mission Network stands in solidarity with those who stood up against racism and violent intent in Charlottesville this past week, and denounces the violence that took place. Many in our ranks have stood in the face of violence that erupted during peaceful demonstrations in Palestine, at Black Lives Matter events, and at Standing Rock. We know both activists and clergy who chose to make a witness in Charlottesville this past weekend against the evil of neo-nazi and white supremacist philosophy and behavior.
We stand in prayer for the family and friends of Heather Heyer, a 32 year old activist who was killed marching peacefully in a Charlottesville city street. We stand in prayer for the family and friends of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, the two Virginia State Troopers who died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the demonstration from the air. We stand in prayer for other victims hospitalized and injured by the same automobile attack that killed Ms. Heyer. We stand in prayer for all who now suffer emotionally and spiritually as a result of the violence and hatred unleashed this past Saturday. We also stand in prayer for our society and our world as it once again must deal with the aftermath of self-serving human passion and pursuits that are in direct conflict with the example and nonviolent witness of Jesus Christ. We stand in prayer for all our interfaith partners throughout the world who share with us the ideals of nonviolent witness and peace bestowed upon us by our common Creator, whom we affirm as one human family.
We stand against racist beliefs and terroristic threats and actions that lessen the human life and dignity of brothers and sisters of every race, ethnicity, land of origin, or religious expression. We stand against postures and inclinations that seek to justify philosophical, political and even theological and religious designs to selfishly pit human beings against themselves anywhere in our nation or our world. And most importantly, we stand against any attempts by leaders, media, or anyone else to draw equivalencies between neo-nazi, white supremacist and alt-right activists who came prepared to not only demonstrate but effect violence, and those counter-protestors who stood up in the face of that racism, hatred and violence.
We are not so naive as to pretend that some counter-protestors did not engage in violence, but we recognize that those who did comprised an extremely small percentage of the many who were standing for justice. We humbly remember that even within Jesus’ own inner circle, when religious authorities came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane, he had to tell those closest to him to put their swords away and not violently resist the evil thwart upon them. We know that we are all ultimately sinners who stand in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Even so, the equivalency that has been drawn between the two groups (and still is being drawn even following President Trump’s second attempt at denouncing the violence) is false and reflects no reality faithful Christians would or should recognize.
IPMN is thankful for the statements that have already been made by the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA), as well as those made by our ecumenical and interfaith partners. We also stand in support of U.S. political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, who have forthrightly stood for the best values of justice upheld by the United States Constitution. It is our continuing prayer that this tragic event will be transformed by the Spirit of God in such a way that our subsequent dialogue and actions will help uplift the value and worth of all humans into whom God breathed the sacred breath of life.