A Pastoral Letter in response to recruitment efforts of the Klan

. 3 min read
You may have read or heard about the front page article in
last Sunday’s Time’s Leader about a cross burning by the KKK in the
Mountain Top area. The article is available here: http://timesleader.com/news/489335/ku-klux-klan-recruiting-in-northeast-pennsylvania-for-a-new-era
The clergy of Mountain Top have prepared A Pastoral
Letter in response to recruiting efforts of the Klan.
The text is below. This will print in the Citizen’s Voice on Sunday and the Times Leader on Tuesday, as well as in the Mountaintop Eagle and the Mountain
(date TBD).
To take your stand and endorse this letter with us, please
register your support at http://openwelcome.blogspot.com/.
Please keep this matter in prayer and commit yourself to
making everyone welcome in our fellowship and community. Thanks to the Bishop’s
office for funding this printing.

As pastors of churches in and around Mountain Top, we are at
once grieved and dismayed to read recent local news of Ku Klux Klan recruiting
in our county and a cross burning in our own Mountain Top community. Grieved,
because this anti-Christian and un-American organization claims to represent
Jesus our Lord and the values of our nation. Dismayed, because we are concerned
that local media coverage of these events only serves to publicize the Klan’s
message of fear and hatred. As leaders of the religious community in Mountain
Top, from Catholic, Protestant, and Independent churches, we stand together against
the Klan’s efforts in our entire region and are committed to welcome and
celebrate our African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Jewish, Arab, and Asian
neighbors and friends.

The Klan brands itself as a peaceful Christian organization
protecting and promoting Caucasian culture and heritage and claims that the
burning cross represents nothing other than the light of Christ. This is
nonsense; symbols have meaning rooted in the history of their use, and the
burning cross is today what it has always been, a symbol of terror used to
intimidate nonwhites into subjugation. The Klan’s methods and language clearly
demonstrate their fear, hatred, and embrace of violence. In an October 18 Times
article, their Imperial Wizard claims the organization is
nonviolent, but ominously adds, “If someone interferes, I can’t tell you what’s
going to happen.” One local member says, “We’re called the Invisible Empire
because nobody knows who we are. We could be your neighbor.” This language is
both violent and threatening; the Klan and other hate groups, in spite of
claiming to be Christian, only demonstrate the potential of Scripture to be
abused by evil. As followers of Jesus, we categorically reject the hatred,
fear, and violence of the Klan as sinful, evil and anti-Christian.
Furthermore, we embrace one of the great gifts of the
American tradition: the diversity that makes us great, our roots as a nation of
immigrants, and our ongoing welcome of immigrants. The Emma Lazarus poem on the
pedestal of the Statue of Liberty names Liberty the “Mother of Exiles” and
calls out in welcome to the world,
. . . Give me your tired, your
your huddled masses yearning to
breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden
We therefore denounce the efforts of the Klan as both un-American
and non-Christian.
It is our hope that our community and churches will continue
their long tradition of welcoming “the alien, the orphan, and the widow”
(Deuteronomy 24:17-22) into a community “from every nation, from all tribes and
peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9). We devote our support to victims of
racist violence and bias, and our leadership to making our churches and
communities safe and welcoming for all.
Rev. JP Bohanan, Christ United Methodist Church, Mountain
Rev. Mark Dodson, Stairville, Slocum, and Faith United
Methodist Churches
Rev. Joseph Evanko, Saint Jude’s Catholic Church, Mountain
Mary’s Catholic Church, Dorrance
Rev. Michele Kaufman, Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church, Mountain
Rev. Brian Knorr, Mountaintop Family Center Church
Rev. Tom Miller, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Mountain
Rev. Jim Shanley, The Presbyterian Church of Mountain Top
Rev. Jeffrey Tudgay, Saint Jude’s Catholic Church, Mountain
Mary’s Catholic Church, Dorrance
Rev. Virginia Miner, Acting General Presbyter, Presbytery of
Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Salsgiver, District Superintendent,
Lewisburg District,
Susquehanna Conference, The United
Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah J. Park, Resident Bishop, Harrisburg Area,
Susquehanna Conference, The United
Methodist Church
To take your stand and endorse this letter with us, please register
your support at openwelcome.blogspot.com.