Interfaith Statement and Gathering for Unity, Love and Strength

The Union Church in Waban is a member of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, who issued the following statement regarding the recent events in Charlottesville, and the upcoming events in Boston.  For those interested in learning more about the Interfaith Gathering planned for 5pm, Friday, August 18th at Temple Israel, Boston, you can find a link to the Facebook page HERE.  

Dear friends,

The events of Charlottesville, VA have shaken us to the core. We grieve the loss of the dead and pray for the healing of the injured. We despair that today’s neo-nazis feel emboldened to spew hateful venom into the public square with impunity while wearing helmets, wielding shields, and brandishing weapons. We are confounded by those who are prone to violence. The moral fabric of our nation is frayed. 

We know that you need to do something. Many of you are desperate to be a part of the solution. You want to confront the evil, face it down, expose it to the light of day for what it is. We love you for this. We love you for your fierce anger and will to do good, to make a difference, to take a stand for God.

Similar groups to those who visited hatred upon Charlottesville plan to hold a rally on the Boston Common on Saturday. We have had lengthy meetings with City officials and other inter-religious leaders, including colleagues in the Black community, Muslim community, and Jewish community. We ask you to investigate your own conscience and decide where you are called to be, to show up with love , act in nonviolence, and please prioritize the safety of yourself and others. 

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization will host an Interfaith Gathering of Unity, Love, and Strength this Friday at 5pm, at Temple Israel of Boston.  At GBIOs Spring Delegates Assembly in April, GBIO adopted the, “Out of Many, One” campaign to fight against threats to vulnerable communities. On Friday we will continue in the spirit of this campaign as we stand together as an organized powerful voice in Greater Boston. Whatever else you choose to do this weekend, we hope you will make this a high priority. We will hear inspiring words from faith leaders across Greater Boston, as we stand together against all forms of hatred, to affirm the power of love and righteousness. All members of clergy will be invited to stand together on the bima (raised platform), in full spiritual regalia, then at 6pm, Temple Israel is inviting our interfaith community to join them for “A Sabbath of Love and Light,” a Shabbat worship experience open to all, devoted to the values of justice and compassion. Please extend this invitation to your family and friends.  This is the time for us to be together with all who wish to counter messages of hatred by kindling the light of compassion and human dignity for all.  

Finally, a group of interreligious leaders have prepared a statement which the GBIO Strategy team has endorsed. Please see below and Click Here to share and invite other signatories. 

In faith and solidarity,

Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Temple Israel

Rev. Liz Walker, Roxbury Presbyterian Church

Shayk Yasir Fahmy, Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

Rev. Dan Smith, First Church in Cambridge

Rev. Nancy Taylor, Old South Church in Boston


On the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia

Would that the troubles visited upon Charlottesville were unique. Alas, they are not.

White bigots, some proudly wearing Nazi regalia, shouting racist invectives and egging for a fight, engaged in brutish scuffles, fear-mongering, and even murder in broad day light…

These, alas, are “unoriginal” sins, with language and symbolism drawn from one of the darkest, most ghastly moments in human history.  

Adding to the pain of this horrific event is the failure of some of our political and religious leaders, including President Trump, to call out this behavior instantly, unequivocally—to decry it with instinctive, full-throated condemnation. There should not be any hesitation in naming and denouncing these vicious acts of pure, unadulterated racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.

As religious leaders, we are outraged by the disgusting behavior of the hate mongers in Charlottesville and the immoral responses of so-called public servants and spiritual guides. We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of life in Charlottesville. May the murder of Heather Heyer and the deaths of state troopers Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates call us to recommit ourselves to the hard work to which the US Constitution calls us as human beings, created by God, equal and beautifully diverse. 

We take some heart, however, that precisely because the sins in Charlottesville are not new, we have the will and the resources to respond to them, if we heed the lessons of history and reflect deeply on the spiritual and ethical teaching of our respective traditions. 

The remedy for these unoriginal sins include an unwavering commitment to justice and peace; a collective summons to renewed moral decency; open-hearted engagement with the “other” whom God also fashioned from earth and breath; and honest reflection about the roots and branches of racism and bigotry in our own communities, whether in Charlottesville or Boston.

The remedy also requires us to admit that it is far from “self-evident” in this country that “all people are created equal.” Rather, this remains a sacred aspiration to which we the members of these United States—northerners and southerners alike—struggle to achieve. To do so, we must work daily to dismantle entrenched systems of oppression and degradation.

As clergy and religious professionals living together in the historic city of Boston, we stand united in support of the foundational democratic value of pluralism—religious, ethnic, racial, and otherwise. As we decry the abhorrent behavior of the violent bigots in Charlottesville and the underwhelming response of some of our national leaders, we also call on our communities to rededicate themselves to serving as agents of healing in our homes, houses of worship, work places, schools, playgrounds and streets. 

*Knowing that many people in our communities will gather for prayer and public action this weekend, we offer the following questions for contemplation and discussion:

  • What is one concrete action you can take today to oppose the despicable actions in Charlottesville and elsewhere in our country?
  • How can you help address issues of racism and bigotry in your own community?
  • Where might you engage in meaningful conversation and/or action with people from other religious and cultural communities? 
  • What sustains you in your peace and justice efforts? What resources do you need to carry this work forward?