Charlottesville Violence and a Christian Response
My sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego:
As I traveled to this diocese last weekend, an enormity was unfolding in Virginia. The hatred and violence in Charlottesville killed one young woman and injured a score of others. The terror unleashed has rippled across this land and across the world. We follow the Prince of Peace, who repeatedly confronted the prejudices and ancient norms of his society, insisting that the job of all faithful people is to love God with all our might and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus insisted that ‘neighbor’ included the outsiders of his day, and, as this weekend’s gospel reminds us, he himself expanded that expectation to include a Canaanite woman – someone who at that time would have been judged beneath the notice and outside the social orbit of an observant rabbi.
The enormity is not confined to Virginia. Our nation had its teeth set on edge when our forebears ate the sour grapes of slavery, Jim Crow, and newer expressions of imposed second-class status. There is nothing loving or neighborly about insisting that certain categories of human beings should be treated with less than equal dignity. The promises of our baptismal covenant insist that we respect the dignity of every human being, and that we will strive for justice (which is the public expression of love for all neighbors) among all people. There is no place in Christian theology for attitudes of superiority or supremacy that privilege some categories of human beings over others. We are all children of the same God, and our willingness to follow Jesus means we go in company with all the people of this earth.
I urge us as a Diocese to confront the evil of thinking some are more equal than others – in our own hearts, in our own actions and those of others, and in the social and legal structures of our communities and nation. None of us will ever be truly free until all are free. None of us will live in peace and safety until all do. Please reach out to a surprising neighbor – today, this week, and every day to come – and discover the dignity of a human being made equally in the image of God. May you discover a blessing there, waiting for you.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori