Response To This Week’s Violence
A Letter From Dr. Alton B. Pollard III
President, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary


My Friends in Faith:
My Friends in Community:

These past several days have proven to be a true test of our humanity. Vile hatred has reached epidemic proportions.

On Wednesday, Metro Louisville experienced white supremacy in its most lethal form and the loss of two black lives. What sense is there to the violence of shooting human beings in a grocery store based on the color of their skin? 

The Jewish community of Pittsburgh experienced the travail and devastation of anti-Sematic hate on Saturday. What sense is there to the violence of entering a house of worship and taking the lives of others based on their religious beliefs? 

Package bombs were mailed to political and business representatives across the country. What sense is there to the violence of sending package bombs to those with different political views?

Our community – our country – has experienced this three-tiered trident of hatred over the past seven days. This is not humanity’s mandate from God. This is not how we build the “City of God.”

Racism, anti-Semitism, and political xenophobia are unacceptable in any context, especially when these expressions of hatred accrue human collateral damage – when God’s greatest gift, the gift of life itself, is violated, stolen, destroyed just because someone looks, thinks, or believes differently.

Where is God in the midst of all this terror? Where is the comfort of God in the throes of such disregard for humanity? This past Friday, Professor Scott Williamson delivered a powerful and relevant sermon in Louisville Seminary’s Caldwell Chapel. It was a sermon that challenged us to seek and understand God’s presence in our hearts in the midst of our own failures.

What do we do with that awareness? Do we really understand what God calls us to do?

It’s frightening that there are those in our society who believe that violence is a righteous testament of faith. Indeed, it is sad when lack of compassion, disregard for human life, and, frankly, a complete misinterpretation of sacred texts from across all faith traditions leads us down the path of self-destruction. 

Black, brown and white, Jewish and Muslim, transgender and gay and more – the Louisville Seminary community stands with all communities under siege in this very present hour. Hatred will not have the last word. Our better angels will prevail.

This is our declaration.

This is our vow.

This is our action.

This is our faith.

We are all in this struggle together.

Join us in our stand as a witness of faith rooted in compassion in a world of many different and beautiful faith traditions, cultures and ethnicities. God made us all in God’s image and likeness. Look in the mirror, look at one another and see the beauty of God’s face. Feel the warmth of God’s words. And celebrate God’s gift of life for all of us.

Alton B. Pollard III
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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