TO: The People of the Open Door Churches and the Community of Salem-Keizer
FROM: The Pastors of the Open Door Churches
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
On Saturday, October 17, members of the White Supremacist organization The Proud Boys gathered at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, with the express intent of intimidating and harassing the families and other area residents who were there to do nothing more than enjoy a beautiful fall day. Heavily armed and heavily drinking, the Proud Boys stood out from the others at the park that day, walking the pathways and even training their gun sights on some of the park patrons they deemed to be in conflict with their purpose of proclaiming White Supremacy. It was an ugly, brutal display of force.
These kinds of actions must stop. These persons were not counter-protestors or responding to some imminent threat to life or property. They were simply trying to make a statement of power, using all manner of deadly weapons to enforce that message.
We proclaim our belief that all persons are created in the Image of God and categorically reject the notion that any “race” is superior to another. We call upon the Christian leaders and churches of Salem-Keizer to speak out against such forms of violence, abuse, and intimidation. Such things are in direct opposition to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which proclaims:
- “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:18, NIV)
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45, NIV)
We furthermore call upon the elected and appointed authorities to intervene in the event any such situations arise, since the Proud Boys and others have already publicly stated their intent to return and continue such tactics. We expect that more proactive measures will be taken to protect the people of our city in the event that such behavior is repeated, which seems highly likely in the near future. If there are laws that allow for such behavior, those laws must be changed. And, in the meantime, we would remind the authorities that violence is not always physical in nature: Though a specific statutory law may not have been broken, the lack of intervention by the authorities in this case allowed the violence that is intimidation to occur. To stand by and refuse to act “until a law is broken” is simply inviting more of the same and places innocent persons in danger.
Finally, we invite all of our sisters and brothers in Christ to join us, as well as other communities of faith and no faith at all who are people of good will. We must unequivocally reject such behavior and clearly proclaim it is not welcome, here or anywhere.
Grace and peace,
Rev. John Fleming, Rev. Alyssa Baker, Rev. Kalina Malua Katoa, and Pastora Zaida Huereca