Religions Work Together To Remove Hate Speech From Church

December 8, 2016 in uncategorised

Muslims, Jews, Atheists and Christians worked together to remove “Heil Trump,” the swastika and homophobic words from the walls of a Liberal Church in the USA which the Reverend had intentionally left up for nearly three weeks after the vandalism occurred, only days after the U.S. elections.

Reverand Kelsey Hutt described the atmosphere, on the 30th of November, as both emotional and positive, in which roughly 250 people gathered to remove the black graffiti despite their usual attendance of only 47. Hutt said, “We had people who were just incredibly happy to be able to just scrub once. There were so many people here that we couldn’t really have scrubbed for very long. In fact to scrub to scrub twice and then they have to hand the brush on.”

Jan Holloway, a parishioner from St David’s Episcopal Church, said that it only took 15 minutes to remove the graffiti. Over 50 people volunteered to help, some contributed tools and others prepared homemade food for everyone at the event. Jan said that there was, ‘a lovely sense of community and togetherness and love.’

Hutt mentioned, “We had tons of people, not just from our immediate community but we had people from the reader Indianapolis area, we had people from out stat, we had people from Columbus Indiana, so they came from everywhere to help us.”

Hutt explained the support that they received was international. She said, “We received letters of hope from New Zealand, England, Brazil and Australia. And as a kind of boost and uplifting to my congregation, I could not necessarily convey the amount of support that we were getting. I took all of those messages of hope from Facebook and our voicemail and I posted them on cards, I printed them out on each individual little card and posted them all across the inside of the church. So as a note, to remind them that they were supported by more than just me and more than just this community but the world and to kind of allude to the interesting iconicity of having the outside of our walls being marked with the hate but the inside of our walls remaining strong and covered with love.”

The Reverand said they didn’t have any specific reason for taking it off on the day that they did, except that, “We think it accomplished what it needed to accomplish. We wanted to remain as a symbol of hope and wanted to offer the community, not just my parishioners, but the community an opportunity to have closure. It was very cathartic for them to actually be able to scrub it off the walls, so that’s why we decided to take it down.”

Reverend Kelsey Hutt confessed her initial feeling of shock, hurt and anger but said, “We decided fairly quickly to leave it up to embrace the fact that we were targeted for the right reasons and use it as a message of exclusiveness and love.”

Hutt described the churches ‘right reasons’ as inclusion and acceptance of everybody, that they welcome gay couples and don’t discriminate anyone based on their background or the colour of their skin. She worded it like this, “We believed they picked us because we are an inclusive church and we accept you no matter where you come from, what colour you are or who you love, you are welcome here at St. David.”

Matthew AbdulHaqq Niemi, a secretary at the Islamic Centre of Bloomington, was out of town during the event but responded to the vandalism by saying, “I am frightened and saddened by it all, and hope that Americans can once again learn to love wisdom, dignity, and humility.”

The Brown County Sheriffs Office, who investigated this case, did not comment.

Mary Catherine Carmichael, spoke on behalf of John Hamilton, the Mayor in the neighbouring county, “Our community, Bloomington, Indiana, is greatly disturbed by these acts of violence. Civic and faith-based organizations are speaking out against such acts, and are reaching out in support of any group or individual who is threatened.As local government, we are tracking any hate-based incidents, reporting them and responding to each as needed.”

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