A Response to Events in Charlottesville

From Rev. Alison W. Eskildsen

Speaking for the members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, we grieve with the family and friends of Heather Heyer, as well as Jay Cullen, and Berke M. M. Bates, both Virginia State Police Troopers, all who recently died in Charlottesville, Virginia. We also regret the injuries suffered by others at the rally and hope all will recover soon.

We believe the hate and violence promoted by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were not exhibiting American values. Hate and inequality and violence are not values we should stand up for. The values we should uphold are the values American troops fought for during World War II when they rid the world of a Nazi regime that espoused hatred of Jews and other non-Christians. The values our statues and memorials should commemorate are the values President Abraham Lincoln exhibited in emancipating enslaved Africans and their descendants. Our nation should be one of equals where no single identity is superior to any other.

Unitarian Universalists are guided by the principle that all people have inherent worth and dignity and should be treated with equal respect. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens does not condone violent protest nor does it support the divisive beliefs held by white supremacists. While respecting free speech and the right to assemble, Unitarian Universalists advocate non-violence. We encourage respectful dialogue around ideas and our coming together peacefully to solve the challenges of an increasingly modern and diverse society.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” We Unitarian Universalists are committed to ending hateful racism in all its forms. We Unitarian Universalists join with others who wish to further peace, justice, and love. We at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship seek to be a sanctuary of support in the face of hate and violence. We will always stand on the side of love.

Rev. Alison W. Eskildsen