We renounce violence and all acts of hatred and discrimination against our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) sisters and brothers. However, our Christian witness must go beyond our words spoken from a distance. The Body of Christ is injured, and the Church is weakened when we stand idly by and allow vitriolic words and continued acts of hatred directed to our neighbors as though we all are not harmed when part of the community is harmed.
We repent of the sin of silence in light of the more than 3,795 hate incidents reported from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, as recorded by The Stop AAPI Hate National Report. Racism and discrimination directed toward Asian Americans has increased and gone uninterrupted taking the form of verbal harassment, civil rights assault, online harassment, physical assault and murder.
According to the Pew Research Center Survey, three in 10 Asian Americans (31%) report having experienced racial slurs or racist jokes since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is a critical time to reach out to those we know who may feel especially vulnerable and unsafe and assure them that we will not remain silent or ignore their stories of pain and demands for justice. The familiar passage in Micah 6 is not a call to applaud justice but to “do justice” and love mercy and walk humbly with God.
To “do justice” is to engage in walking alongside those who are targeted and victimized and demonstrate love in the public square. Our Baptismal Covenant as United Methodists must be more than words on paper. We are unequivocal in our response of “I do accept the freedom and power God gives me (us) to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
States have Hate Crime Laws because some criminal behavior is driven by hatred toward others based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. There are daily crimes of the heart and mouth and—as Bishop and a follower of Jesus—I invite you to step into this moment and stand in the gap with those who cry out to stop the hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
I’m reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“If anyone says, I love God and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen“ (I John 4:20).
Rev. Dr. In Suk Peebles has expressed her feelings about this prolonged season of pandemic and hatred directed toward Asian Americans by saying, “Each one of us is called by our Lord Jesus to disrupt our desire for comfort and familiarity, to enter a beloved community where all can flourish.” And let it be so.
May we walk together in this season and commit ourselves to be part of the solution.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church