Indiana clergy: ‘White supremacy has been a permanent fixture of this country’

Letter to the Editor from Indiana Clergy
Indianapolis Star | Aug. 15, 2019
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When members of our human family are treated like “others” and targeted by hate, we have a moral obligation to demand action from those who represent us.

As religious leaders from diverse faith traditions across Indiana, we join you in extending our deepest sympathies to the families forever transformed by the horrific week of mass murder. We and our communities are also transformed. Condolences are not enough.

These acts were committed by men firing weapons intended for war into peaceful crowds — children enjoying a food festival in Gilroy; families doing back-to-school shopping in El Paso; and people enjoying a night out with friends in Dayton.

The dehumanizing rhetoric and speeches from our highest office have put us on a dangerous course toward the normalization of a renewed, open, and more emboldened white nationalism. Coupled with easy access to guns, this ideology has created a white terrorism crisis.

To stay silent, to fail to act, is to be complicit.

At the core of our sacred texts is a simple truth: we are all endowed by our creator with inherent worth and dignity. Our belonging is based on our shared humanity. And no one, certainly no group, lies outside of that humanity. When members of our human family are treated like “others” and targeted by hate — Muslims, Jews, Latinos, Blacks, and LGBTQ people — we have a moral obligation to demand action from those who represent us.

It is insufficient to denounce these incidents as individual acts of bigotry. White supremacy has been a permanent fixture of this country. Sadly, we experience it in Indiana. We must loosen its hold on our institutions, our laws, and our culture if we hope to heal our nation.

We should not confuse the dangers of white supremacy with all white people. For this reason, bold leadership — particularly from religious and civic leaders who identify as white — is crucial.

Governor, we write to you because you have a unique opportunity to keep Hoosier families safe. Indiana is among the top 20 states for gun deaths. We have ministered to families in big cities and small towns who lost loved ones to gun violence. We have reassured our neighbors of our love for them when their communities were attacked by hateful words and acts.

We urge you promptly to condemn the weaponization of hate and the ideology of white supremacy and introduce gun safety legislation in the 2020 legislative session: ban assault weapons, mandate background checks, and invest in public health approaches proven to curb gun violence. We appeal to you to demonstrate that actions speak louder than words.

We will continue to call on U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun and Indiana’s congressional delegation to take similar actions, starting with bringing H.R. 8 — the bipartisan background check bill passed in the House — to a vote in the Senate.

Let us not allow the forces of evil divide us or frighten us into silence. As people of faith, as neighbors, and as human beings, we pledge to work together so that everyone in our communities, our state, and our nation can live free from fear. To this end, we request to meet with you in the next 60 days, so that together we can build a safer and more inclusive Indiana.

This letter was signed by over 100 clergy from the 17 largest faith traditions in Indiana and respectfully submitted to Gov. Eric Holcomb on behalf of Faith in Indiana.

  • Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis
  • Rev. Shonda Gladden, CEO of Good for the Soul, Indianapolis
  • Rev. David W. Greene Sr., Purpose of Life Ministries and President of Concerned Clergy, Indianapolis
  • Rabbi Michael Friedland, Sinai Synagogue, South Bend
  • Rev. Rob Fuquay, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
  • Rev. Karen Staton, Destiny Life Center, Fort Wayne
  • Rev. Felipe Martinez, First Presbyterian Church, Columbus
  • Fr. Tom Metzger, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Noblesville
  • Rev. Timothy Murphy, Plymouth Congregational Church, Fort Wayne
  • Rev. Anthony Payton, Come As You Are Church, Fort Wayne
  • Rabbi Dennis Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis
  • Rev. Gilbert Washington, St. Paul Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, South Bend
  • Rev. Suzanne Wille, Episcopal Church of All Saints, Indianapolis
  • Fr. Paul Ybarra, St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church, South Bend

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