Editor's note: The names of local faith leaders were erroneously attached to the wrong article in Tuesday's News & Record. Here is the correct article they submitted, in its entirety.
Together as a coalition of Greensboro area faith leaders, we join countless other U.S. citizens in grief and outrage after the Jan. 6 attack on democracy at the center of American government. Believing that all of us are created in the image of God, our response flows from our understanding of the justice and love of God, which span across our diverse traditions to unite us in common commitment and compassion.
We grieve this insurrection for its deep disturbance and fundamental threat to our democracy. We are outraged at the violence that led to the death of at least five people, while initiating trauma for so many others as it reinscribed the fear experienced by the most vulnerable in our nation.
However, our anger should not be mistaken for surprise, nor our grief for resignation.
These deeply disturbing events were also the logical trajectory of the actions and rhetoric from the highest levels of leadership — particularly presidential leadership. The recent attempt by the president of the United States and some of his supporters to undermine election results is the latest episode in a pattern of leadership that has emboldened white supremacy and utilized nationalistic fervor for political gain. This was evident in the use of religious symbols in the attack on the capital, right alongside an erected noose and artifacts of the Confederate rebellion against the United States.
However, white supremacy and Christian nationalism are not recent aberrations, but part of a longstanding legacy in our country. Many times throughout U.S. history, white Americans have supported unjust election processes and thwarted judicial justice to marginalized and vulnerable Americans. Such inequity continues to plague America, while standing against the goodness of God and God’s will for beloved community. Consider the treatment of Black people protesting police brutality and centuries of racial injustice versus the treatment of white insurrectionists storming the Capitol to disrupt the certification of an election and the peaceful transition of power because of a conspiracy theory. Our country is apt to regard Black protest as a threat, while white rioting is treated as an entitlement.
The Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel wrote: “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.” We will not be indifferent but stand against injustice. We will not be silent, choosing what Dr. King called “a negative peace” that is the absence of conflict, but rather work for the “positive peace” that is the presence of justice.
We in Greensboro, given our history as the place where four N.C. A&T State University students sat down at a lunch counter in order that others could stand up for justice, have a particular appreciation for seminal moments such as this. We recommit ourselves to the urgent work of this moment — nationally and locally — acknowledging that peace cannot come without justice, and reconciliation must be preceded by repair. We will strive to embody God’s love in our own lives and communities, and we call on people of goodwill to join us. May our grief motivate compassionate action and our anger inspire transformative work.
As faith leaders, we commit to do our part, drawing on the resources of faith and community to learn and grow. We will be inviting the community to a series of upcoming virtual conversations around the intersecting issues that are reflected dramatically in this moment, but continue systematically in so many moments unseen.
As we join in action, we also join in prayer. We pray for our country, our public servants, and the peaceful transfer of power to the new president on Jan. 20. We also pray for our community, that this city we love might live out its own ideals, celebrating diversity, working for the enfranchisement of all its citizens, encouraging neighborly love, and pursuing more fully the justice and love intended by God.
The Rev. Steve Allen is president of the Pulpit Forum; the Rev. Kim Priddy and the Rev. Alan Sherouse are co-chairs of the Faith Leaders Council. This column was written on behalf of, and with input from, both organizations. Rabbi Fred Guttman also contributed to the writing of this piece.