Sunday I spent the day in San Juan Island. I preached a the Episcopal church. I gave a sermon on Antisemitism and then led an adult forum on anti-Muslim hate groups. As you may remember, a young girl on the Islands had her genitalia inspected by her babysitter and a friend without the permission and presence of the parents. These two went to the police. Instead of calling CPS, they called Homeland Security.
Antisemitism is the historical precedent for racial and religious bigotry in the Christian Church and the European and North American contexts, even while Antisemitism continues to be a force all it’s own. Antisemitism is woven into much of Christian biblical interpretation and in the texts themselves at times. One among a thousand questions: Who killed Jesus? The Roman Empire did that, along with 15,000 to 20,000 other people in a campaign of terror of public execution on crosses. That is what dictators do, as we are now being reminded in the imagery from Ukraine. Are most people in Christian Churches clear about this? I doubt it.
This creates an us vs them dynamic between Christians and people of other traditions that is easily spun out to create an adversarial attitude toward other groups.
After the sermon we began an adult forum on the role of anti-Muslim hate groups. A few years a go they leveraged a cultural practice by some in Africa to slander American Muslims. That cultural practice (female genital mutilation) is not a part of Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. But the hate groups said it was. This led two people on San Juan Island to act abusively to a child and call Homeland Security. The Sheriff’s office has shown great reluctance to investigate what these two women did.
I encouraged the two churches I worked with to rise to a challenge: When any minority religion or community’s rights or dignity are being denied, it the responsibility of the majority to stand with and behind them.
An elder of the Upper Skagit Tribe joined me in going to San Juan Island. She wanted to stand with this family. Other community members on San Juan are standing up, too. When rights or dignity are denied, we must all stand with each other.
PTU will participate in the creation a public event. We will help involve and center the voices of people of many cultures who have experienced some loss of rights or dignity there. PTU staff will be there to assist and encourage the community in lifting up the values they want to live by together.
We will keep you posted about what is happening there, and the courage and leadership that community is bringing to issues that impact all of our communities.