As thousands of white nationalist and “alt-right” protesters descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, for the “Unite the Right” rally Saturday and clashed with counterprotesters, voices from both sides of the aisle were raised to condemn the gathering.
Included in those voices were two members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board — a group of pastors and faith leaders who advise Trump — and also a Latino evangelical minister who delivered a prayer at the presidential inauguration in January.
And while Trump failed to single out white supremacists and “alt-right” groups at the center of Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, the ministers who spoke out in statements were not so reticent.
“I condemn the forces of white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism that divide our country today and I also condemn those who seek to politicize it all for their political gain,” said minister Samuel Rodriguez, who took part in Trump’s inauguration.
“Unless, we bridge this senseless and partisan divide there will be more horrors to come. It’s on each of us to be a part of solution and it begins with turning our political swords into plowshares. We must begin to work together to heal our nation,” he added.
Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, said the protesters at Saturday’s rally did not “represent in any form or way the Christian faith or the values followers of Jesus stand for.”
“In fact, white nationalism and white supremacism are anathema to the teachings of Christ, who called us to love and to serve our neighbor — regardless of skin color, gender or religion — to give up our life for our friends and to even love our enemies.”
Johnnie Moore, a former senior vice president at Liberty University and also one of the President’s evangelical advisers, echoed Floyd by saying, “White supremacism, racism, and anti-Semitism are bigotry and they are pure evil. I hate them, and I call upon all Americans to defy them with intentional acts of solidarity and love.”
Moore added: “The right remains too passive and the left remains too political when it comes to ethnic divisions in this country. One side underestimates the issue and the other side provokes further conflict. Both sides distrust each other. This must end if we are to find national healing.”