Saturday, July 09, 2005

Extinguish the Fires of Hate

Hate crimes and violence in America go on all the time. The latest outrage is directed against a Virginia congregation of the United Church of Christ -- whose General Synod endorsed gay marriage this week. Here is a report on that -- and a few others from the past few days.

Thanks to blogger and UCC seminarian Chuck Currie for alerting the blogosphere to a vicious hate crime. Someone set fire to a UCC church in Viginia today. A local newspaper reports that "The outside of the church was vandalized with anti-gay messages and a declaration that United Church of Christ members were sinners. The graffiti's message appeared to be a reference to the national church’s decision earlier this week to endorse gay and lesbian marriages. The United Church of Christ's General Synod voted Monday in Atlanta to approve a resolution that is accepting of gay and lesbian marriages but is not binding on local congregations. A member of the congregation discovered the graffiti Saturday morning when he stopped by to mow the grass. He went into the church building, and when he opened the sanctuary there was still a small fire."

"I have no idea," Currie writers, "whether or not the congregation at St. John’s Reformed UCC were in favor of the resolution passed by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ supporting gay marriage or not. That is irrelevant."

"It is tragic that whoever committed this hate crime did so because they were misled into believing that supporting legal equality for gays and lesbians is sinful. It simply is not."

"The rhetoric of the religious right and their allies in the political right, Currie continues, "who claim that homosexuality is a sin -- must take some of the responsibility for the increase in hate crimes such as this one. Albert Mohler, the prominent Southern Baptist leader, has even compared legal and legislative decisions in support of gay marriage to the attacks against the United States on September 11th. People hear that kind of hateful preaching and believe they are acting as faithful Christians as they torch churches or beat up gays."

The United Church News further reports that "two other churches in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley were vandalized near the time the United Church of Christ's Stillspeaking Initiative began running television ads welcoming all people, including gays and lesbians."

Contributions to help the church can be sent to:

St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ
1515 Arbor Hill Rd
Staunton, Va 24401

The Associated Press is also reporting that two, apparently unrelated black churches were burned to the ground in Tennnessee, as well as a mosque in Indiana. The latter is being investigated as a hate crime.

Meanwhile, a clinic in Palm Beach, Florida was closed following a serious arson attack on Monday. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinal reports that the arson follows a similar attack last year at this time. Terrorists often pick symbolic dates for thier crimes. In this case, the Palm Beach arsonist torches clinics on or about the fourth of July. Domestic terrorism aimed at abortion providers has been going on for a long time, inflamed in part by the rhetoric of the leaders of the Christian Right, in much the same fashion that hate is directed against others.

Hate crimes and domestic terrorism take many forms. Sometimes that hate is directed against people because of their race, thier religion, their sexual orientation, or for excercising thier constitutional right to receive or provide reproductive health services to women.

It is time to extinguish the fires of hate.

[Crossposted from]


Blogger dogemperor said...

Per private email, SPLC is going to be listing this incident in their HateWatch weekly listing of hate incidents and will also be investigating further.

Should further incidents of hate crimes targeting UCC churches come to light, please let Southern Poverty Law Center know ( as they are now doing a project involving investigation of hate speech and hate activities among dominionist/"Christian Supremacist" groups.

4:16 PM  

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