Ashland Christians Standing Against Racism

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The attempts by the Mayor and the Ashland City Council to silence those calling for transparency in regards to racism in our community have caused us great concern. Fighting racism is not a “special interest.” Racism is a sickness that affects us all, and its reduction benefits the community as a whole. While a city government is not able to “change the hearts” of its citizens, it can, and should, do whatever is in its capacity to minimize its existence. By not condemning racism in your words and actions, it is allowed to continue to fester and go unchecked.

On August 23, 2020 hundreds of Christians in Ashland gathered at Freer Field to pray, including a prayer of repentance for racism in our city, nation, and world. It was a beautiful and needed moment of corporate repentance and confession to address America’s deeply entrenched sin. If we are truly repentant, and we should be, then we will take steps forward to no longer tolerate acts of racism in our city and flatly condemn them both individually and collectively.

For Christians, the call to pursue justice is an intrinsic part of our faith. Those created in the image of God should be able to live in safety and security regardless of their race. As the prophet Isaiah said we must “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17). A Christian’s fight against injustice must extend beyond empty words and ineffectual statements. A follower of Christ must “not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

We, therefore, concerned citizens of Ashland representing various Christian denominations and faith traditions, unequivocally denounce the actions taken by our local leaders to inhibit healthy and productive dialogue on the issue of racism in our community. We specifically denounce the words of councilman Steve Workman forbidding citizens of Ashland to bring up the topic of racism at city council meetings. The council said in their statement on the subject of racism that they are “guided by Christian values,” but have failed to take concrete action to put these values into practice.

The governing officials in our city should approach the concerns of the people regarding racism and discrimination with humility, and investigate and root out any potential injustices with an earnest desire to do good for all citizens of Ashland. Therefore, we implore the mayor and city council to reopen the dialogue. The community should have ample space to share their concerns and provide constructive feedback in order to further the development of practices and policies that make Ashland a safe and inviting place for people of color to feel welcomed, protected, and celebrated.

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