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Province of Sewanee bishops condemn racist incidents

Province of Sewanee bishops condemn racist incidents

A statement from the Province IV bishops

As Bishops of Province IV of The Episcopal Church (also known as The Province of Sewanee) who share in the oversight of the University of the South, we in no uncertain terms condemn the harassment of the Vice Chancellor of the University last month by, as of now, unknown vandals and the more recent racial epithets hurled at scholar athletes from a visiting college by young people in the crowd during a lacrosse game. We hope and pray those engaging in such despicable behavior are not students at the University. In our minds, any racist behavior is intolerable, does not represent the virtues of our faith, and we denounce it emphatically. We trust the Vice Chancellor and the University Regents will together address these hateful acts with all deliberate speed.

The Right Reverend Scott Benhase, Vice President, Province IV

The Right Reverend Robert Wright, Bishop of Atlanta

The Right Reverend Frank Logue, Bishop of Georgia

The Right Reverend Phoebe Roaf, Bishop of West Tennessee

The Right Reverend Brian Cole, Bishop of East Tennessee

The Right Reverend Mark Van Koevering, Bishop of Lexington

The Right Reverend Rob Skirving, Bishop of East Carolina

The Right Reverend Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta, Res.

The Right Reverend Peter Eaton, Bishop of Southeast Florida

The Right Reverend Morris Thompson, Bishop of Louisiana

The Right Reverend Terry White, Bishop of Kentucky

The Right Reverend Glenda Curry, Bishop of Alabama

The Right Reverend Sam Rodman, Bishop of North Carolina

The Right Reverend Jose McLoughlin, Bishop of Western North Carolina

The Right Reverend McKee Sloan, Bishop of Alabama, Res.

The Right Reverend Russell Kendrick, Bishop of Central Gulf Coast

The Right Reverend Andrew Waldo, Bishop of Upper South Carolina

The Right Reverend Dabney Smith, Bishop of Southwest Florida

The Right Reverend Greg Brewer, Bishop of Central Florida

The Right Reverend John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee

The Right Reverend Henry Parsley, Bishop of Alabama. Res.

The Right Reverend Brian Seage, Bishop of Mississippi

The Right Reverend Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina


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Fr. Jabriel S. Ballentine

Jesus said He did not come to condemn. Rather He came to offer salvation. Rather than condemning (& not lifting a finger to help remove the burden of sin), what would it look like for these Bishops to offer salvation to the supremacists/sinners who prevent the becoming of Beloved Community?

Last edited 10 months ago by Fr. Jabriel S. Ballentine
Gerald Winthrop

“With all deliberate speed” ?! They’ll trolling us, aren’t they?

Margaret Will

Sewanee knows who the perpetrators are. Whether or not anyone has the courage to name them depends on who the parents of the guilty are. Students of high dollar donors do not receive any discipline as a rule. Students who don’t want behind-the-scenes paybacks will not speak. If no identifications are made, The Episcopal Church and the federal government should consider repercussions to the entire university, first by shutting down lacrosse.

Eric Bonetti

I am so very much in agreement with Mary that I cannot really capture this with words.

The core issue isn’t even the outrageous and deplorable racism that we are seeing. Instead, it is a system, built up over the years in TEC, in which words, like those in the baptismal covenant, are a fig leaf for real accountability.

My example is this: After the Heather Cook debacle, the task force responsible for reviewing the situation issued a report noting a lack of urgency and accountability over issues of impairment, adding that similar reports have been coming out of church headquarters for years with little effect.

As a result, myriad diocese committed to revisiting their alcohol policies. Indeed, here in Virginia the diocesan website said that updates to the policy would be released shortly. Years later, we finally saw some minor tweaks to the policy —ones that probably took a few minutes to draft.

The upshot is that the underlying issue is one of accountability and urgency, and the message it sends when we see neither.

Thus, merely condemning this behavior is not acceptable. The bishops referenced above need to put down the regalia, stop the meaningless condemnations, and insist on meaningful action NOW to address the issue and hold people accountable.

And for the record, if students at Sewanee cannot adhere to even these basic standards of conduct, like no hate speech, it’s not a fit on either side. Sewanee is not right for them; they are not right for the school.

Finally, I don’t know who came up with the idea to use the phrase “all deliberate speed,” but it illustrates just how clueless the church is on race. The language comes from Brown v. Board of Education, and was the weasel-wording that declared segregation illegal, but gave a wink and a nod to states that didn’t want to actually do anything.

Use of the phrase is patently offensive to anyone who is African-American or cares about desegregation.

Mary Zabawa Taylor

This doesn’t come close to the appropriate response. Can’t you see it’s not enough to condemn these hateful acts? Listen to your students of color. These acts spring from somewhere. They spring from something more widespread and deeper than you want to believe. They live, every day. You have a system at play that nurtures and allows this and that is what needs examining. And it’s the hardest work you will ever do. But if you don’t you’ll be outraged again at another act of hate and discipline those folks and never get to the root. We’re really good at that pattern. It has persisted for centuries. We’ve fine tuned it and our response. It’s time for a new song.

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