The thousands of clergy members who comprise The Clergy Letter Project condemn in clear and unequivocal terms all forms of white supremacy and the violence that is associated with such racist views.
While members of The Clergy Letter Project believe in protecting freedom of speech, even odious speech, they are well aware that speech promoting violence is not protected under the United State Constitution. This means that some of the detestable language used by white supremacists may fall within the realm of protected speech – but the fact that it is protected does not make it acceptable.
As long as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, members of the alt-right, and members of any other group use vile and incendiary language, language that may be protected, it falls on the rest of us to talk back, to make it clear that such language is utterly unacceptable in civil society, and to point out the underlying fallacy of their hateful speech. This is exactly what the more than 14,700 clergy who are members of The Clergy Letter Project are doing.
The Clergy Letter Project was created to promote the teaching of evolution and to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible. Evolutionary theory, as well as the tenets of virtually all religions, teaches us about the similarity of all humans.
Even though it might seem counter-intuitive, from a genetic perspective, biologists know that there are more similarities across races than there are within races. Adam Rutherford, in his superb book entitled A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived made this point well and often. He notes that:
Genetically, two black people are more likely to be more different to each other than a black person and a white person. In other words, while the physical differences are clearly visible between a white and a black person, the total amount of difference is much smaller than between two black people.
In other words, he points out that there are often obvious morphological differences across what we consider to be different races but he demonstrates that “they’re not representative of the genome as a whole.” He adds that he is “unaware of any group of people on Earth that can be defined by their DNA in a scientifically satisfactory way” and that “for the average geneticist, race simply does not exist.”
From a religious perspective, we celebrate our shared humanity and are aghast when people promote any sort of racial hierarchy. Similarly, from a religious perspective, we know that all people, regardless of any demographic attribute, should be treated fairly.
Therefore, simply put, the vile rhetoric being spewed by white supremacists is religiously and biologically bankrupt.
The frequency of such loathsome language as well as the violence often associated with that language has been increasing of late and we find this pattern to be terribly troubling. We urge others, particularly politicians, to join us in making it clear that this is absolutely unacceptable. By pushing back forcefully, articulately and peacefully, we believe it is possible to combat the evil being promoted by those working to divide us.
We can build a better society – but our voices must be heard. If we work together, we can eliminate the scourge of white supremacy and the very real instances of racism that exist in our society. Please join us in our efforts.