The Western PA Conference Anti-Racism Team is urging United Methodists to speak out against hate, particularly racialized hate. The Team issued the following statement addressing escalating violence against Asian Americans.
The news tells us a man buys a gun in Atlanta and uses it to kill eight people, six of them Asian American women. The news tells us that the law enforcement officer speaking to the press reported the man with the gun was “having a bad day”. This comment prompts outrage and a national newspaper columnist asks: have Americans become so accustomed to racial attacks that we can now describe them as “having a bad day?” Perhaps most of us have not become so accustomed to racial violence that we can accept it so casually but racial violence cannot be a surprise either for Americans. We have the recent examples of the attacks in El Paso and the Tree of Life to suggest to us what can happen when hate speech does its work, in addition to a long history of white against black violence. The news also tells us that hate speech and attacks against Asian Americans have risen dramatically in the past year, attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. An elderly Asian American woman is attacked and punched in the face. An Asian American man is stabbed in the back. Countless verbal assaults which did not reach the level of physical action were noted. Hate speech creates an atmosphere where deadly violence can seem, in retrospect, to be inevitable.
Christians are once again called to raise their voices after the violence. Once again, we are called to mourn for the dead, and we do. Christians everywhere mourn and regret the loss of a single human life to racial violence. The members of the WPAUMC Anti-Racism team join in the mourning for the dead and the prayers for the living, particularly the family members bearing an unspeakable loss. But these actions alone, for Christians, are not sufficient.
The United Methodist Church tells us that racial violence and racism is a sin against God. The members of ART call on all Methodists to raise their voices and speak out against hate, particularly racialized hate. The members of ART believe God does not call us to be only silent mourners but to be active opponents of racialized hate. God calls us to speak out consistently against hate whenever we hear it, not just in the days after another national tragedy. We urge all Christians to speak out against and call out hate speech directed to persons of color whenever they hear it. We believe God calls us all to action to address the sin of racism in America that has already taken countless precious human lives. Let us mourn, pray and act.