Question: What does the Bible or any other sacred text you follow have to say about race and racism?
Nori Rost - Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Dr. Nori Rost is the minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church downtown and has been a community activist in Colorado Springs for 20 years.
Unitarian Universalists don’t have a set creed or scripture; rather we see the world as a sacred text, and each living thing a testament to life. We do have seven guiding principles by which we try to abide, the first being the inherent worth and dignity of every human. As such, there can be no place for racism or white supremacy in the world. Our Unitarian forebears held up the works of Jesus as an example to follow. He didn’t tolerate racism toward Samaritans, Syrophoenicians or others. The Universalist side of the house held that we are all on a level playing field and all are considered children of god regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or gender identity. We would do well to follow.
Alycia Erickson - Christian
Rev. Alycia Erickson, pastor of Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church, has a passion for working with the LGBTQ and straight communities.
Leviticus 19:18 states, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (NRSV). Jesus expands on this in his own teachings, and in Matthew 7:12 says, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (NRSV). What this tells me is that neither individual acts of discrimination, nor systemic racism, have any place in our world. If I don’t want to be treated in a racist way, I cannot act in a racist way toward those different from me. Nor can I stand by while other people act in racist ways. It’s really that simple, and yet unfortunately many expressions of American Christianity adopted and perpetuated white supremacy instead of learning how to love one’s neighbor.
Arnie Bass - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Arnie Bass is a bishop at Sunset Mesa Ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Colorado Springs. He has served in positions of both spiritual and administrative responsibility since 1991.
Racism is wrong and not of God. Two of the scriptures I try to follow are the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They both teach that God is the Father of all mankind and that he loves each of us. The Book of Mormon teaches, “he denieth none that come unto him, [both] black and white … ; and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). The two great commandments as taught in the scriptures are, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God … and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” I believe the Savior’s use of the word “neighbour” is intended to include everyone outside ourselves, certainly outside our immediate household. I believe He expects us to respect and appreciate one another.
David Gardiner - Buddhist
David Gardiner is an associate professor in the Colorado College Religion department, specializing in Buddhism and religions of China and Japan, and is co-founder and director of BodhiMind Center.
Of the many Buddhist texts from which I derive inspiration and guidance, only some of the earlier Indian ones touch themes of race/color. The ancient Indian caste system (alive today in altered forms) was not merely a socioeconomic hierarchy. The word for caste, “varna,” means “color.” Indians recognized color differentiations, and the hierarchy likely discriminated against persons of darker color. The Buddha grew up in this society; most of his disciples were “upper middle caste.” However, he spoke forcefully about the importance of not judging someone for their caste, or birth family, which likely implied color. He urged us to judge a person by their character, by the virtue manifest in their behavior. While Buddhist communities naturally have flaws, this ideal remains steadily present.
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