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White supremacy and racial superiority has no place in today’s America.

Last week we saw images of a noxious rally with a message of hate in Charlottesville, Va. Groups of individuals with White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi ties attacked those who came to show their solidarity against such bigotry. One person was killed and many others severely injured.

All the great world religions call on their followers to live in goodwill and peace. It is only when these religious beliefs are perverted that misguided followers choose the path of hatred and violence.

Christians believe Jesus called his disciples to form a church that would be multiethnic, multinational, from every family, language, people and nation. This message is opposite to hatred. It says love your enemies, live in peace and settle disputes without violence. The White Supremacist agenda is exclusionist, while Jesus’ agenda of “God so loved the world” includes white, black and yellow. God equally loves them all.

The history of our country is based on striving to treat all people with equal rights and equal opportunities. More than the 241 years since the Declaration of Independence, we have not always met this ideal. Yet, our Constitution, our courts and our legislative bodies have made great strides toward achieving equality. It is ironic and tragic that the events in Charlottesville took place but a few miles from the home of and shrine to Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

I served near Charlottesville as an Episcopal rector of a parish in 1990s. I was the first non-white rector to serve an Episcopal Anglo parish in Virginia. I did experience the ugly head of racism at times during my time of serving there. I also witnessed reconciliation and people of all races learning to work together in harmony. Change is possible.

Threads of the disease of racism are still found widely in our country. It lingers in implicit and covert ways in our cities, schools, culture and society — even in some unconscious attitudes. Often it is based upon the belief that white people are superior than people of other races. Therefore, they should dominate other people of color.

Historically, this gave some their supposed divine right to chattel slavery. Four million blacks were denied personal freedom at the outbreak of the Civil War. Christian churches in North America and later in South Africa mistakenly used the Bible to justify holding slaves, supposedly to civilize and liberate them from savagery.

This caused much suffering, death and scars that linger to today among us in America. Close to the end of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address spoke to the wounded soul of the nation. He said “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

We carry the scars of the sins from our dark past. The Charlottesville White Nationalist march reminds us that these demons are still haunting us. We must counteract bigotry, hate and racism. It means owning up to American history and seeking ways for redemption and healing. The America we live in today is an example of democracy, a light on the hill of equality, prosperity and liberty. But under this veneer, there remains much pain from an ugly history of oppression, hatred and segregation.

Our nation is now not one dominant race. We are now a nation of many ethnicities and colors, which give us our beautiful heritage. We dare not retrace our footsteps to the past to resurrect the ugliness of racism and racial superiority. We are created equal in the image of God, and need to live in goodwill, peacefully with each other.

We all need to stand up against all forms of bigotry. One of Jesus’ prime teachings concerned our relationship with our fellow humans. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” The Bible offers an inclusive and healing message for a divided nation: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

There is no place for white nationalist or racial supremacy in the church of Christ, or in America. I appeal to people of faith not to stay silent spectators but to stand in solidarity with those who seek unity, and reconciliation to heal the wounds of our past sins.

Unite us in peace to solve our differences and advance a common prosperity to make America beautiful, a land where we all can cherish liberty and freedom.

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The Very Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine is rector of Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse.

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(16) comments

johnnybragatti

Spot on !,
Drumpfts lack of condemnation , for the Nazis, is no suprise., just blame the Lefty?
ALL Nazis are,in fact...Republican.
Now that makes sense !

kingman10

it is telling how the far right wing nuts who love to post their love for Trump and oppression are eerily silent when there is a column like this. They continue to refuse to label those hate groups terrorists. The hide behind their dear leader, hoping and crossing their fingers he won't tweet something more idiotic because they feel compelled to defend anything he stands for. It is telling how silent they are now.

Redwall

Trump made clear how disagreeable the hate groups are. Your must count yourself among the illiterate subscribers to the Fibune.

kingman10

redwall to trumps's rescue. I guess I didn't see that "disagreeable" part of Trumps press conference on tuesday. What a strong word you used, "disagreeable". Sounds like those terrorists groups are almost civil if given a chance. I guess the other politicians missed it too, including many republicans. Those hate groups are thrilled with what Trump had to say, they are ecstatic, guess the missed what Trump said too. But low and behold, Redwall figured it out. Those "disagreeable" groups better look out now.

Redwall

See my comments above. Then take reading lessons. "Reading is fundamental"

taxedout

I read Rev. Augustine's letter this morning with respect and thanksgiving. When I saw that there were 3 comments, I looked forward to reading some positive feedback but hence, there it was, 3 ugly remarks on a piece that was meant to unite.

Kingsman, you weren't looking for supportive comments from the right that would agree with Rev. Augustine, you were looking for a fight. There are white supremacists in our mists and they are to be condemned but the wide brush you are using to encourage prejudice against innocent people is wrong and hateful.

There are approximately 10,000 members in this despicable group. Their behavior is not condoned by Conservatives and you know that. I did not see one reference to President Trump in Rev. Augustine's letter. He wrote from the heart and shared his experiences in order to warn us of the evils that still exist in our country.

If we are to overcome and heal from Charlottesville, we have to unite against the supremacist groups. We are a sad and wounded nation that will certainly fall if the kind of rhetoric that you wrote here doesn't stop.


kingman10

oh really taxedout, looking for a fight? I merely commented how quiet the far right was. The reverend did not mention trump, but the reason he felt compelled to write a column is because our president failed in his duty to call these hate groups what they truly are, which is domestic terrorists. I too am calling out the hate groups, and the alt right, which you darn well know sympathize with these terrorists. We cannot heal a a nation unless we reveal and acknowledge the evil that exists and work to stop it. It is people like you and redwall and others whose rhetoric is preventing the truth from coming out. If these so called conservatives you mentioned do not condone those terrorists groups then why don't they come out and bluntly say so, and call them out what they really are? I am still waiting....

Redwall

So true. I am a conservative and I agree with the reverend and believe trump would also agree with the reverend.

Redwall

Did you read the column? Do you know how to read? The reason I ask is that Trump was never mentioned in the column and you apparently think otherwise. In fact, I think Trump would agree with the reverend.

kingman10

Trump says there are fine people on both sides. So I guess there is room in Trumps world for KKK an white supremacists and Nazis because some of them are "fine people." I wonder how many "fine people" Trumps feels actually belong to these hate groups. I have yet to meet a "fine" Nazi! I doubt very much that Trump would privately agree with this column.

Hey19

Hey kingman10, how many Nazis have you met?

johnnybragatti

Not a bad idea...

Redwall

the less you say the more sense you make

kingman10

Inspirational column! Most clergy would agree 100% with this column. However there is a big part of Christianity that still clings to hate and judgement of our fellow man. Southern Evangelicals sternly support Trump and his remarks. they also have no time for other religions or beliefs and quickly cast harsh judgement upon them, as if that is their job. So hate still persists in some religious circles. It is like a rash that you have to treat with an ointment over and over , and after a long time it will heal. So to with hate and bigotry, it will take much time. I read that some graduates of Liberty University are returning their diplomas after being disgusted with that University's continued support for Trump. A small but important event that shows some people can change.

Redwall

Trump condemned the hate groups, you moron. Try educating yourself

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