In the ten days following election day, 867 incidents of hateful harassment were reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center. These incidents have been directed toward immigrants or people who are perceived to be immigrants, people of color, Jews, Muslims and LGBTQ people. They have taken place all over the country including in our home state of Massachusetts.
The recent presidential campaign certainly did not create racism and prejudice. These issues are deep seated, systemic and long standing in our country. However, reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the data analytics firm Ushahidi, all point to a sharp rise in hateful incidents since the election. This is deeply concerning to us. We ask all who live and work in our local towns to come together, regardless of political party or any other differences, to continue to build what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the Beloved Community, where trust, respect, and a commitment to non-violence prevail.
We believe that now is the time for all of us, and especially the leaders of our communities, to send a clear, strong message that we will not accept hate speech, bigotry or acts of aggression. We must say no to name calling, no to swastikas and all other symbols of hate, no to racial slurs, no to messages and jokes which demean or dehumanize women, immigrants, people of color, religious minorities, or people with disabilities. We believe that every member of our local communities should feel and be equally safe, equally respected and equally valued, regardless of race, religion, country of birth, gender, sexual orientation or ability.
For us as Unitarian Universalists, this is a matter of faith, grounded in our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We would like our neighbors to know that the members of First Parish Church of Groton will not rest in the face of prejudice. We hope you will join us.
Rev. Elea J. Kemler, Minister
and the Governing Board of First Parish Church of Groton