OUCRL Statement on January 6 Riot
The Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life (OUCRL) joins in Vanderbilt’s strong condemnation of the violent riot at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. In particular, we witnessed several rioters carrying signs reading “Jesus” and flags falsely purporting to represent the Christian faith. It was reported that one of the groups participating in events yesterday characterized their action as a “Jericho March,” connecting themselves to a story from the Hebrew Bible. And so we additionally condemn, in the strongest terms, violence committed in the name of religion. Religion should call and enable us to be our best, as individuals and as a society. Religion should lead us to seek justice and equity for all people. Religion should help us promote healing and reconciliation. Religion should enable us to practice peace and nurture community.
While we cannot be certain of the reasons and motivations of every person or group yesterday in Washington, DC, two things are evident from yesterday’s mob violence: the continuing racism in our society and the power of words to shape our world. First, we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the racism and white supremacy that fueled yesterday’s violence, and the racist structures and institutions that continue to make our society unjust and inequitable. We commit to seeking equity, diversity, and inclusion in our community and society. Second, we affirm the power of words to make our world and shape our reality. Speaking truth in love is a critical part of a society where people might both trust one another and cooperate for the common good despite differences of opinion, and disagree and debate while maintaining friendships across lines of difference.
At OUCRL, we are committed to understanding and learning from the wisdom of different religious, spiritual, and secular perspectives and to building meaningful relationships across lines of difference. In this way, religion becomes a means of building bridges of friendship and peace, as well as showing the promise of a world where fear and violence will not hold sway.