Grieving and Repenting from Acts of Hate and Violence (80627-C2-R9999)
New resolution replacing Resolutions #182-185 children and youth on the sins of hate and bigotry;
Confessing the sins of hate and violence
Violence permeates our society, perpetrated by those who hurt others because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their religious identity, or no reason at all. Violence exists as persons and groups from around the world have lashed out in anger and fear, persecuting those whom they see as different. These acts of hate include such actions as "ethnic cleansing," deportations, genocide, torture, tyrannical rule, religious intolerance and persecution, church burnings, rape, murder, war, and civil unrest that scar the lives of millions.
One deplorable form of violence is hate crimes. Hate crimes result from the intentional selection of victims or property as the object of violence because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, class, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation of the individual victim or owners of the property.
It is not just hate groups who perpetrate such crimes. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, "most hate crimes are carried out by otherwise lawabiding young people who see little wrong with their actions. Alcohol and drugs sometimes help fuel these crimes, but the main determinant appears to be personal prejudice . . . such prejudice is most likely rooted in an environment that disdains someone who is 'different' or sees that difference as threatening."
The United Methodist Church must be proactive in resisting hate and teaching all members how to live in our diverse social world without passively accepting the rise of hate and bigotry. When church members do nothing about hate language or horrifying atrocities, we participate in the social support of hate.
Racism and crimes against persons based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, class, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation is not limited to the United States alone. Unfortunately, racism and the violence that emanates from racist attitudes are global. According to Amnesty International, an estimated 300 million indigenous peoples face widespread discrimination and cultural marginalization. Ethnic groups such as the Kurds in Turkey, the Roma in Eastern Europe, the Karen in Myanmar, and the Uighurs and Tibetans in China all face discrimination and violence. The United Methodist Church upholds the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December of 1966 and ratified by the United States in 1992. The ICCPR states that, “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
Assaults against people perceived to be gay or lesbian are increasing at alarming rates and are characterized by viciousness. According to the 2004 U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation constituted the third highest category reported and made up 15.5 percent of all reported hate crimes in the United States. Human Rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International regularly report discrimination and violence against people throughout the world based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conviction and Sorrow about the Sins of Hate and Violence
Although The United Methodist Church is in conflict over the place of gay and lesbian people in The United Methodist Church, we grieve over the violence committed against the gay and lesbian community. We also grieve over the violence committed against transgender persons. We urge United Methodist congregations, youth and campus ministries, and church agencies to promote opportunities where we may be a witness, helping to heal wounds of violence in our communities and congregations, witnessing through work groups, Bible studies, community missional outreach, prayer, and involvement in ecumenical and interfaith groups and coalitions.
The United Methodist Church grieves as God grieved when Cain killed Abel and Abel’s blood cried out to the Lord from the ground (Genesis 4:10). We grieve as God grieved over the oppression and enslavement of the Israelites. God saw their misery, heard their cries, and was concerned for their suffering (Exodus 3:7). We grieve as Jesus grieved over Jerusalem which killed and stoned the prophets sent by God to proclaim the word of God to the people of God (Matthew 23:34-37). Yet, in each of these passages God does not meet violence with violence. Instead, God offers the option of repentance to those who perpetuate violence and hate.
Repentance from Sins of Hate and Violence
Therefore, we as United Methodists and individuals within the global community seek to reconcile the violence found within our own hearts. We seek forgiveness for the injustices we ourselves have committed against each other, our friends and family, and the global community. Whether it is our actions or our thoughts, our words or our deeds, our voice or our silence, where we have done wrong, we seek forgiveness. We pray for mercy as we seek to walk humbly with God, and in peace with our families and friends, with our communities, and with ourselves.
We as United Methodists express our grief for the broken covenants of the church, both in The United Methodist Church and the church universal. We define a broken covenant as being actions that we may have committed in the name of faith that have locked persons out of relationships with Jesus Christ and the church, whether it be because of differences, prejudices, or through ignorance. We seek forgiveness for acts of hate and violence committed in the name of faith.
Redemption from Sins of Hate and Violence
Yet, our grief is only the first step towards what God desires for creation. “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10a). Repentance entails a turning away from sin, from actions and attitudes of hate and violence and a turning to acceptance, compassion, hospitality, and love. Jesus requires all of his followers to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24).
Therefore, repentance must lead to redemptive action and social change. Violence, hate, and civil rights violations go against the long heritage of United Methodist commitment to justice for all persons. Today, it is increasingly apparent that such commitment must be translated into action in new ways for Jesus has called us to rise up and minister to a broken world that it may heal and that we may one day live in a world free from violence where “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Therefore, we resolve that The United Methodist Church, with assistance from the appropriate boards, agencies, and local churches continue to educate:
seminary students and clergy on the trends of hate in the world and how the church can faithfully prevent and respond to acts of hate; and
all persons in The United Methodist Church about the sins of hatred and bigotry that have been committed in our United Methodist Church against our members and against those with whom we seek to minister.
We also resolve that the members of The United Methodist Church:
be active participants in civic or religious organizations that promote unity and diversity and work to eradicate acts of hate;
take strong nonviolent action in opposition to hate groups;
develop support group(s) for persons active in antiracism strategies and for persons ministering to victims of hate crimes.
evangelize those individuals who would choose to be a part of hate groups or who commit acts of hate and violence individually and show them the compassion and saving grace of Jesus Christ;
promote diversity dialogue and programs in all churches, annual conferences, central conferences, general agencies, campus ministry units, and any other place where The United Methodist Church has a witness;
support a restorative-justice response to hate crimes, which aims at dialogue, accountability, and healing between victims and offenders rather than adding more punishment of offenders if their crime was motivated by hate; and
speak up when you are a victim of hate crimes. If you are subject to an act of bigotry or racial violence, tell someone. Tell your family, your friends, neighbors, the church; seek support for yourself. Report the incident to police. Insist that the crime be reported as a "hate crime."
We resolve that all United Methodist congregations, under the leadership of the General Board of Church and Society to advocate for:
law-enforcement personnel to maintain records on hate crimes and to bring to justice the perpetrators of such violence and intimidation;
hearings on hate crimes, particularly in those states where statistics reveal an increase in the activity of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups;
hate crimes prevention legislation that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.