Statement on Atlanta Shootings

Friday, March 19, 2021

To the Members and Friends of the Congregational Library and Archives,

I am writing to you in grief and sadness over the shooting in Atlanta earlier this week.  Eight people were killed, many of them members of the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.  This was an act of misogynistic and white supremacist violence.  With over 3,800 anti-Asian, racist hate incidents in the United States in the past year, mostly against women, it is important that we not be silent.  Such hate has no place in our democracy, and people of faith must do everything in their power to counteract white supremacy and protect our AAPI neighbors.  They are integral members of our communities whom we value and respect.

There are numerous organizations that have published statements of solidarity with the AAPI community, but the Congregational Library and Archives and the churches with which we work bear special responsibility for working to counteract this violence.  I was particularly disturbed to hear that the domestic terrorist in question claimed "sex addiction" and the resultant "temptation" as the justifying rationale behind his attack.  Sex addiction means something particular in Evangelical circles that differs from its use in other parts of our culture, and the use of "temptation" as a justification means that Biblical interpretation played a role in the violence that he enacted.  In addition, the perpetrator's personal context is that he is the son of a youth pastor and active in a Southern Baptist church.  I lay this out because it is important to recognize that he adopted a faith-based narrative in which he was out of control, had a sex addiction, and was taught to blame, objectify, and react violently to "temptations."  This shooting was, in effect, a toxic brew of misogyny, faith, and white supremacy, and Christian churches and organizations such as ours which interact so intimately with churches bear a special responsibility for denouncing it.

One of the ways that we exhibit our faith in public is to not remain silent in the face of such hate.  Misogyny and racism have no place in Christian faith, nor in our society. Women are not "temptations."  To the members of the AAPI community, know that we at the Congregational Library and Archives stand with you, and we are committed to resisting white supremacy among our churches and in our land.

May peace be with us all,

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray
Executive Director
Congregational Library and Archives, Boston, Massachusetts