Dear Members of the Berkeley Divinity School Community,
The onslaught of police violence against black people that has surged in this nation takes place in the midst of the loss, pain, uncertainty and isolation of COVID 19. This pandemic has revealed to our nation, in stark terms, the disproportionate suffering and death affecting the poor and people of color. As our black brothers and sisters unjustly suffer we stand with those that Jesus stands with: the poor, the oppressed, the hurt and the despairing. We stand with our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington DC Mariann Budde, the Reverend Robert Fisher, Rector of St. John’s Lafayette Square and Berkeley alum. We stand with the Bishops of Province 1 who write:
What President Trump did in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square on the evening of June 1 was disgraceful and morally repugnant. Displaying a Bible from which he did not quote, using as a mere backdrop an Episcopal church where he did not pray, and – more callously – ordering law enforcement to clear, with force and tear gas, a path through demonstrators who had gathered in peace, President Trump distorted for his own purposes the cherished symbols of our faith to condone and stoke yet more violence.
Despite the 14th Amendment’s noble guarantee of equal protection under the law, bias persists based solely on the color of one’s skin. We are outraged by the killing of yet another black person. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the countless others before him, known and unknown, deserves our outrage and our action. Our Holy Scriptures reveal to us what our baptismal promises confirm; every person is sacred.
As I marched in New Haven on Sunday with peaceful protesters, black, brown, white, elders, and youth I witnessed, in the faces of protesters and police alike, the courage to face what must be changed. In the words of James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” May we find the moral energy these suffering times demands of us to be part of the change. May we extend mercy and justice, especially to those whose life, liberty, and humanity is threatened by the persistent sin of systemic racism.
In prayer and action,
The Rev. Dr. Cathy H. George
Acting Dean and President
Berkeley Divinity School at Yale