"Resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they represent"
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
August 04, 2019
Like so many of you, I am growing weary of the violence in our country. California, Texas, Ohio - when will this stop? While we must offer our prayers of condolence and hope that those prayers might lead to transformative change, we must also add action to those prayers - actions that no longer view this crisis merely through the narrow lens of gun ownership, but also through the lenses of our national mental health crisis, the creeping white nationalism spreading across our country, and the dangerous, divisive, and politically motivated discourse that continues to fan the flames of hatred and violence.
As I learned the news of the El Paso shooting, I sat among immigrants and Hispanics at the Annual Assembly of MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans). MARCHA advocates on behalf of the Hispanic/Latino members of the United Methodist Church and the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. Since 1971, it has honored the contributions and cultural values of Hispanic/Latino persons and serves as a movement that promotes respect of human rights as well as a commitment to peace, justice, liberty, and equality. I realized as I read the news that the act of terror was tied to a stance against the very people I was worshiping with. I must confess that I felt deeply that this act of terror assumed a stand against me, a Hispanic Latina.
And yet, less than twenty-four hours later, I learned of another deadly shooting in Dayton, and I was reminded that gun violence affects us all, regardless of the color of our skin. Every day, 310 people are shot in the United States. Among those, 100 are shot and killed, 210 survive gun injuries, and 95 are injured in an attack. This must stop! In fact, Hardly a day goes by when there is not a shooting somewhere right here in Louisiana. Any loss of life as a result of violence is beyond my comprehension. Violence against one is violence against us all. What shall we do? Pray, of course, but I believe that as United Methodists we must join together in our commitment to transform our cities and our world. For, in a sense, our lives begin to end when we fail to speak about and act upon the things that truly matter.
The shootings in El Paso and Dayton were horrifying on all accounts, and yet the manifesto written by the El Paso gunman indicates that he was motivated by his hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics/Latinos. This fact alone implores us to examine more deeply the underlying causes that fuel such hatred, name them, and do everything in our power to stand against them. White nationalism, white supremacy, and any movement, group, or individual seeking to marginalize, oppress, or do harm to any of God's children must be rejected and resisted on all fronts. Our baptismal vows demand that we "resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves." White nationalism and white supremacy are evil, unjust, and oppressive, and I ask that you join me in speaking out and standing against them in whatever form they present themselves.
My heart breaks for families in California, Texas, Ohio, and anywhere who have lost loved ones to these senseless acts. My heart breaks each day when I learn of another shooting in Louisiana. Today, I recommit myself to upholding my baptismal vows and will resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they represent. Today, I recommit myself to shining the light of Christ into the darkness of the world. Today, I recommit myself to being the change I hope to see in the world. I ask you to join me in this commitment.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey As most of you know, Lydia Patterson Institute is located in El Paso, Texas. For over 100 years, LPI, the only United Methodist institution on the border and supported by the Louisiana Conference, has been dedicated to building bridges between two countries. The school is committed to forming bilingual and bicultural leaders for the church and society. We are in contact with Lydia Patterson as they continue to monitor developments in El Paso. Our prayers are with LPI’s students, parents and staff as they prepare for a new school year in the face of this tragic event.