The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, released this statement on August 14 in response to racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11 and 12:
Like many Americans, I was horrified to watch white supremacist violence in Charlottesville spiral out of control this weekend. As an Episcopalian, I was particularly sickened to watch racists perpetrate violence and hatred in the name of Christianity.
When confronted with the ugly underbelly of our history and tradition, it is tempting to say that racism is not Christian, and that what we saw in Charlottesville this weekend is no part of who we are or what we believe. But far too often throughout history, Christians have killed, maimed, and abused people in the name of our religion. What happened in Charlottesville was part of a Christian tradition that we would far rather forget.
Even though we sometimes fall short, we Episcopalians strive to be Christians who follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves and who have promised to respect the dignity of every human being. And so, we bear a special responsibility to recognize and atone for the perversions of Christianity espoused by white racists and to work for a more just vision of the church and the world.
Please pray for Heather Heyer, who was killed on Saturday in Charlottesville, for the state troopers who died when their helicopter crashed, and for their family and friends. And then act. Join a vigil in your community, oppose racism in your churches, schools, and workplaces, educate yourself about systemic racism and the ways in which it deforms our lives and country, and raise your children to build a more just and equal world.
Featured image photo credit: Mary Wilson