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Murfreesboro Clergy Statement for Love and Diversity

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With upcoming rallies planned in Middle Tennessee sponsored by a group that calls itself "White Lives Matter,"  clergy in our area feel it may be helpful to make a statement from a Christian perspective about the importance of love and diversity in our community.  Following the example and commandment of Jesus the Christ, we strive to respond to threats toward the unity of our community by encouraging love for all our neighbors.

We repudiate any attack on others--physical, verbal, emotional, or otherwise-- on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, location of origin, legal status, class, or any other category used for the purposes of division and hatred. Long before Jesus, Moses was given a command by the LORD God that is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy 10:19: " You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." We recognize that many of our ancestors were, at one time, strangers to this land, and all the ancestors of Caucasians were strangers when they came to this land just a few hundred years ago.

After Jesus told the questioner in Matthew's gospel what the greatest commandments are: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself," Jesus was asked just who is our neighbor. He responded with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Samaritans were a distrusted and hated group of people, foreigners to Jews, and perceived to be enemies of the Jewish people. This is crucial to understand because Jesus was casting a vision for people to see the humanity of all others, not just those who looked like, thought like, behaved like, or worshiped like themselves. We believe Jesus’ words are relevant in the current climate of distrust toward people from other lands or differing racial/ethnic backgrounds.

We strive to love our neighbors as Jesus commanded, and we reject the alienation of others of any kind, especially in the name of Christianity. We repent of the ways we do not follow in Christ’s footsteps. We acknowledge the Church has been used to alienate groups in the community, and we renew our efforts to reach out with repentant hearts in love to marginalized people.

We also understand when one group is an oppressor and another group is oppressed, neither group is free to experience mutual love. We lift up the Christian ideal of equality that was so important to the founders of this nation. We believe equality means equality for all, and in that equality we will all be more Christ-like.

Finally, we uphold the great truth that all people are made by God in the very image of God. We believe to denigrate or oppress another human made in God's image is an offense to God and an offense to the Christ we serve.

Therefore, we invite all our sisters and brothers, Christian or non-Christian, to join with one another in a community unified by mutual love, respect, and charity, and we firmly stand against any attempts to create or expand divisions among the communities in Middle Tennessee.

In Christian Love,

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