Written by Don Byrd

What do the horrific events in Charlottesville over the weekend have to do with religious liberty for all? Plenty.

In a column posted online entitled  “Reflections on Charlottesville,” the Baptist Joint Committee’s Executive Director, Amanda Tyler, lends a powerful voice to the need for people of faith to speak out against the hate, directed against religious minorities, we saw on chilling display over the weekend.

Here is an excerpt:

I refuse to label anything so wrong as white supremacy and anti-Semitism as “right,” and the views of this dangerous minority are not just “alternative” but malignant. I stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers who are the targets of their venomous epithets and threats.

While the ostensible rationale for their convergence in Charlottesville was in reaction to the decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue, their ideology of hatred and exclusion is directed not at one group but at many. Swastikas, “Sieg heil” and “blood and soil” chants, and a torchlit rally are direct references to the Nazis’ genocide of Jews and others they deemed to be inferior. Among the many firsthand accounts written from Charlottesville, this piece by Alan Zimmerman, president of Congregation Beth Israel, brought home for me the impact of the aggression on one faith community.

For months, I have been writing, preaching and speaking about how hateful rhetoric and violence targeting religious minorities is as much a threat to religious liberty as any law or executive order. These individual acts not only demand responses from our officials, but also from we the people. 

Read the whole thing.