Clergy convene in Charlottesville, protesting Alt-Right rally

by Margaret Wessel Walker

On Friday night, ahead of tonight’s planned rally, members of the alt-right and white supremacist groups marched through the streets of Charlottesville, VA carrying torches and chanting slogans steeped in the history of bigotry. “Blood and soil,” a Nazi ideology of so-called purity based on ethnicity and national origin, “Jews shall not replace us,” and “white lives matter” were among their rallying cries. They are protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Some counter-protesters clashed with the white supremacists near a statue of Thomas Jefferson, but many remained in a peaceful prayer vigil at St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church. Clergy from many different faiths and from across the nation were present, answering a call from the bishops of the Diocese of Virginia. For some time, the white supremacists surrounded the church, but they were eventually disbanded by police for unlawful assembly. Traci Blackmon, a United Church of Christ minister tweeted that the police weren’t letting people inside the church go out for their own safety.

Rev. Winnie Varghese asked those gathered in the church to invoke in prayer “those upon whose shoulders you stand today, those whose footsteps you follow.” “Let’s take that Love to the streets,” she said in the conclusion of her prayer. Dr. Cornel West spoke this morning at First Baptist Church, saying, this would be the “biggest gathering of a hate-driven right wing in the history of this country in the last 30 to 35 years.” He cited Virginia as having “a long history of racism and fighting racism.”

Video from Sojourners of silent marchers in Charlottesville

The Diocese of Virginia added that all clergy are currently safe, and said they would continue to bring updates to their Facebook page.

Charlottesville is a majority progressive city, and the mayor, Mike Signer, said in a Facebook post that he was “beyond disgusted” with this display “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance” on the part of the alt-right protesters. Many felt that the torches were reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan, and Rev. Seth Wispelwey of the local United Church of Christ said “White supremacists rallying in our town is an act of violence.”

In her Final Charge during last night’s prayer service, Lisa Sharon Harper said,

“Oh, God, cut darkness tomorrow, Lord!
Hover over us tomorrow, Lord!
Be with us like you were with the priests who exited the exile!
Blow your holy spirit over us, holy God!
And remind us of your faithfulness to our ancestors!
Walk with us Lord and let.there.be.light!

Amen.”

Saturday afternoon the bishops and clergy gathered at Trinity Episcopal:

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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Oops! Sometimes my full name appears and sometimes it doesn't... hm... Sorry, it seems I may not have adjusted well to the new site (which looks fab!).
Cynthia Katsarelis

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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My last post seems to have been censored or gone to a spam folder.

Christopher, here are eyewitness accounts: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/08/what_the_alt_left_was_actually_doing_in_charlottesville.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

Antifa is credited with saving lives and stemming the tide of violence from the Nazi's and KKK.

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Ann Fontaine
Editor

Probably because you did not sign your first and last name on the post as on this one. Editor

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

"We shouldn't have Confederates on a pedestal anymore than we should have statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Romel, et al."

Thank you for clarifying that Americans in the South during the Civil War are the equivalent of Hitler and Goebbles.

I believe this says all we need to know about the logic operating.

I was in Berlin last week on business. Next time I am there I will explain to incredulous Germans that their fascist monsters who committed genocide have their counterparts in R.E. Lee. And then when they accept that, they will of course need to think through how Goebbels is U.S. Grant or Thomas Jefferson.

Grace and peace.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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Exactly, Gwen. We shouldn't have Confederates on a pedestal anymore than we should have statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Romel, et al. Many of those Confederate statues were added in the 1960's for obvious reasons. In case it isn't obvious, it was to oppose the Civil Rights Movement. Even Robert E. Lee thought that all the symbols of that war should be put away.

The Civil War was a blood bath to protect the institution of slavery and the "sacred" white supremacy. The founders said as much. All the mythology about that needs to be debunked as quickly and strongly as possible. Putting the statues in museums and whatnot, for context, is adding to history, not erasing it. I don't condone vandalizing that statue in Durham, but there are plenty more to tell that awful story.

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Gwen Palmer
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Gwen Palmer

Prof Seitz, I'm not an advocate of erasing history, but the Confederacy is a particular nation that was not the USA, was traitorous to the USA, and fought it. And lost. No US federal, state, or local government branch, including state universities, should be displaying its statues or flag, because they are the artifacts of another, and an opponent, nation. When non-government and private entities, like churches or private colleges, decide to rename buildings or parks, and to remove portraits or statues, as independent organizations they have the right to make those decisions. Now - whether it's erasing history, or simply placing its artifacts where they belong, which is in private organizations' buildings, or in museums, is the question. Inhumane history needs to be told. It needs that done with information and displays that tell the full story, not that simply glorify a flag, a character, or a "heritage."

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