August 12, 2017
The Interfaith Peace Project expresses its sorrow and outrage at the recent events of racial hatred and bigotry that have erupted in Charlottesville, VA. Our prayers and concerns are with the injured and our deepest sympathy to the families of those who have died. The attack on peaceful counter-demonstrators was no less than an act of terror against the basic civil rights of all citizens of our Nation. White Nationalism has no legitimate claim in our civil society. We stand with the Interfaith Community of Charlottesville who were among those assaulted by the White Nationalists. We applaud our Interfaith sisters and brothers who not only stood up against the hate groups that invaded Charlottesville but also stood up for the equality and dignity of all our citizens. We stand in solidarity with governmental officials who have decided the time has come to remove the symbols of racism, hatred and bigotry from the public squares of America.
We have warned for months that divisive and hostile language leads to and fosters hatred, intolerance and violence. Our political rhetoric must be salted with the demands of justice. We reject the idea that there are “sides” when it comes to racial, ethnic, and religious intolerance and hatred. The time has come once again for us as an Interfaith Community to uncompromisingly witness to the rights of all people to live in peace and security.
We call upon all people of good will to engage in and support programs that address the racism that still infects our society and culture. We must understand what motivates hatred as we seek to confront such movements as White Nationalists. Former President Barack Obama in his response quoted Nelson Mandela:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his
skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate,
and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love
comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Racism is America’s “original sin” and the time has come upon us once again to address this issue with the seriousness of legislation that ensures the voting rights and freedom of all our citizens to live with a sense of self-respect and dignity. Our religious and cultural leaders must take the lead in demanding our governmental leaders live up to their obligations to pass legislation that encourages every sector of our society to confront the issues of prejudice, racism, segregation, and intolerance.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
With the Board of Directors