October is national anti-bullying prevention month. White House First Lady Melania Trump supports anti-bullying through her Be Best initiative. Governments, churches, schools and businesses have all stepped up to oppose bullying. And yet, hate still comes to town.
This past Tuesday that hate was directed at Morning Star Baptist Church in north Spokane. A congregation I knew and a congregation of largely multi-racial membership. Hate filled flyers promoting white supremacy/nationalism and celebrating Adolph Hitler were attached to poles and signposts surrounding the church.
Responsibility was openly claimed by the Feuerkrieg Division through their social media site Telegram. The FKD is an offshoot of the Atomwaffen Division and affiliated with The Base. The Inland Northwest has a long and sad history of racial violence and tolerance toward white supremacist groups like Richard Butlerís Aryan Nations and The Order (criminal groups who advocate and practice domestic terrorism). Oklahoma, Charleston, Orlando, Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and too many other US cities, houses of worship and businesses have all been terrorized by these and related groups.
As people of faith we are commanded to love one another. As community leaders we have a civic responsibility to counter hate with love. I continue to be inspired by the response of Billings residents in the early 1990s when hate came to their town. The simple use of a paper Menorah spoke volumes of the new found unity in that community. The need for such vigilance continues today. Perhaps the fading words of Pastor Martin Niemoller need rekindling if we assume as white Christians we are safe: ďFirst they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew, then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.Ē Itís once again time to become the change we want to see in the world. Letís stand in solidarity and on the side of love the next time hate comes to town.