Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. . . . Those who say, “I love God, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4: 8, 20 NRSV)
Whereas, in the post 9/11 world, reports of hate crimes or acts such as the following have become part of the daily lives of people both in the United States and around the world:
- a Muslim Arab-American woman receives a threat from a coworker “You and your kids will pay . . . death”;
- a Catholic high school student is punched and kicked on a bus by a group of youth for looking “Chinese”;
- a teenage boy is beaten with a baseball bat because of his perceived sexuality;
- anti-Semitic graffiti is spray painted on a store selling kosher meat products;
- four men attack and kill one of twelve undocumented immigrants;
- a cross is burned on the lawn of a house for sale after being viewed by an African American family.
These acts encourage social movements that promote bigotry based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and national origin (white supremacists/nativists) to appeal to racial and other fears.
If we look only at these acts as the acts of individuals or groups of individuals we will fail to recognize the wide context of fear and hate that gives rise to these individual acts. That context has both historical roots and grounding in current economic and political realities. Demographic change and economic uncertainties contribute to a sense of insecurity and anxiety about the future leading to old animosities and prejudices being revived and new ones.
The United Methodist Church reaffirms its historical commitment opposing acts of hate, hate speech, and violence in both church and society. The church commits itself to redouble its efforts to speak out against hate crimes and work to transform the context of fear and hate that gives permission to these acts, naming and challenging the culture that perpetuates it.
Be it resolved, that The United Methodist Church, with assistance from the appropriate boards, agencies, and local churches, implement the following recommendations:
Faith and Biblical Resources:
- provide biblically based resources for young people and adults that address the historic and systemic roots of hate that lead to hate speech and hate crimes;
- create resources to help United Methodists analyze the language of hate among groups that use religious language to justify hatred and bigotry;
- work with ecumenical and interfaith groups to create worship resources, and develop community activities to unite religious groups on behalf of justice for all;
- develop educational materials to build understanding of the systemic, institutionalized culture of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of marginalization;
- develop materials to explore and challenge expressions of hate, including: personal attitudes, scapegoating, individual violence, media distortions to public policy, and collective violence, including state violence;
- educate United Methodists about trends of hate in the US and the world and how the church can prevent and respond to acts of hate;
- encourage United Methodists to report hate incidents to the police, and to organize support for victims of hate crimes;
- ecourage United Methodists to end complicity with hate by speaking out when jokes, disparagements, and stereotypes are based on identity or status;
Annual Conferences—Responding to Hate Crimes:
- annual conferences develop data bases of information of local and state hate groups and explore the connections between anti-immigrant/refugee groups and white supremacist organizations in order to develop strategies for response for use by local churches;
- organize letter writing campaigns and denominational and ecumenical delegations to meet with state government officials to advocate for the passage, funding, and implementation of strong and comprehensive state hate crimes laws that extend civil rights protections to all individuals and groups;
- encourage law-enforcement personnel to maintain records on hate crimes and to bring to justice the perpetrators of such violence and intimidation;
- strongly encourage local churches, annual conferences, general agencies, campus ministry units, and any other place where The United Methodist Church has a witness, to create opportunities to hear from excluded groups about the reality and impact of hate and to partner with them to act for justice;
- be active participants in civic or religious organizations that promote unity and diversity and work to eradicate acts of hate, as well as working with diverse grassroots and national organizations;
- engage in efforts to enable communities to unearth the truth about past hate violence, to bring perpetrators (including state actors) to trial, and to heal wounds and seek reconciliation based on justice and more equitable power relationships. This effort is based on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and other efforts now linked through the Center for Transitional Justice;
- work through local organizations and local schools to ensure their policies and training programs adequately address various forms of discrimination and sexual harassment based on gender and perceived sexual identity;
- use United Nations and other resources for adults and children in efforts to build a global culture of peace;
- create an annual conference taskforce to develop strategies to address actions of the media that use or condone hate speech, stereotypes, or racial profiling.
The United Methodist Church calls on annual conferences to report on their work on the culture of hate and hate crimes at their annual conference meeting; to include hate crimes in their conference report to the General Commission on Religion and Race; and to work with the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Global Ministries, including the Women’s Division on this concern.
See Social Principles, ¶ 162A, H, and J.