A worshipping community has been attacked with violent hatred and lives have been lost again. The massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand is horrific. It echoes the deadly White supremacist logic of fear, hatred, and attempts to foment racial wars in the name of a misshapened drive for purity and preservation of a value system that is isolationist and touts a kind of superiority that denies the reality that our lives are a tapestry of brilliant design rather than a weary monochrome of sameness. We have been here before in the U.S.—Sutherland Springs, Charleston, Oak Creek, Pittsburgh—different religious traditions from Christian, Sikh, and Jewish with the same devastating result, but, I pray, that although lives were lost, we refuse to play into the racist and phobic bile that massacring people in houses of worship is in the name of preserving a culture or the purity of a race or securing our borders. It is not. It is a rampant racism mixed with Christian nationalism and mindless conspiracy theories that are not grounded in the vibrant gospel message of love, faith, hope, and justice.
This barbaric hatred that demands that we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Christchurch and across the globe and here in Tennessee as we have stood with other religious communities who have carried the weight of White supremacist acts of violence toward them—and ultimately against all of us. We must stand against hatred that preaches its wicked gospel of annihilation. We must stand for life and reaching across our differences—religious, racial, gender, class, ethnicity, and more—and continue to build love, justice, and peace as foundations for our world.
Emilie M. Townes
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society