The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council stands on the side of justice and against the white supremacy that still greatly influences our nation, fueling fear and division. This past week religious symbols were used to foster hate, violence and bigotry. That is not what religion and faith is about. When people proclaim that “God is on their side” as they carry out crimes of hate and strengthen systems of oppression we must speak out. We call out those who weaponize religion in such instances as the abuse of a cross by insurrectionists as part of their violent occupation of the Capitol, the promotion of violence against Jews (the Camp Auschwitz and 6MWE shirts), the comment that “Hitler was right about one thing” by a member of Congress and much more.

God is on the side of the poor and the dispossessed. As people of faith, we condemn leadership that fans the flames of hatred and injustice- who appoint people to powerful positions who not only undermine democracy but actively work to ensure that the systemic racism grows even stronger. We condemn the actions of those who actively aid and abet criminals and terrorists in their quest to establish a country where white supremacy stands strong. We believe that had the terrorists been black, they would have been shot before ever reaching the Capitol steps. Instead, these terrorists were allowed inside. This is the result of white supremacy in power.

We all need space to heal, not just from the events of this week, but from cumulative anger and grief. The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council encourages you to seek support from friends, family, counselors, your spiritual community or one of us on the Council. We also encourage you to work against the embedded systems of injustice that we live in, the systems that fostered white supremacist leadership and stoked the events of this past week.

We were given a glimpse of what hate and white supremacy can lead to. We will all need unwavering compassion, courage and support in the days and weeks ahead. We invite you to join us in our efforts to help create a more loving, equitable and beloved community.

Signed by:

Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen, President Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council

Rev. Carolyn Baskin-Bell, Senior Pastor, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Santa Monica

Kathleen Benjamin, ALSP, Agape International Spiritual Center

Pastor James Boline, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Santa Monica (ELCA)

Rev. Dr. Janet Bregar PHD., Village Church, Los Angeles

Douglas W. Clark, Retired Teacher

Neil Comess-Daniel, Rabbi Emeritus, Beth Shir Shalom

Rev. Debrah Friedland-vanZyl, Interfaith Minister, So. Calif. Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

Dr. Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies, LMU

Bonnie Johnstone, The Church in Ocean Park, Interfaith

Sam R. LaDue, Seminary Intern, Mt Olive Lutheran Church

Shawn Landres, PhD, Jumpstart Labs

Ericka Lesley, Co-Chair Intercultural Equity & Excellence DAC (SMMUSD)

Darci Niva, The Westside Coalition

Laura Owens, Co-Rabbi, B’nai Horin Children of Freedom

Diane Rose, Rabbi and Cantor, Cool Shul Santa Monica

Rev. Peg Schultz-Akerson, D. Min Lutheran Church of the Master

Rev. Eric C. Shafer, Pastor, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church

Tahil Sharma, Hindu-Sikh Interfaith Minister in Residence, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Santa Monica, CA

Rev. Andre van Zijl, Interfaith Minister, All Paths Divinity School

Willa Wells, Commission for the Senior Community, Santa Monica.