Gamaliel Statement on the Act of Terrorism in Atlanta

The following is a statement from Rev. Dr. John C. Welch, Chair of Gamaliel’s Board of Directors, on the act of terrorism against the Asian population in Atlanta on March 16, 2021.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh terrorized Oklahoma City. In 1996, Eric Rudolph terrorized Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA. In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold terrorized the town of Columbine, CO. In 2012, Adam Lanza terrorized Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. In 2017, Stephen Paddock terrorized Las Vegas, NV. In 2015, Dylann Roof terrorized the Mother Emmanuel congregation in Charleston, SC. In 2018, Nikolas Cruz terrorized the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, FL. In 2019, Patrick Crusius terrorized patrons at a Walmart in El Paso, TX. This is a list of just a few incidents of domestic terrorism that has faded from the proverbial memory of this country.

The shooting at the spa in Atlanta where eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women, is just another note in the litany of terroristic acts of violence. To not characterize this as a racially motivated act against Asians, spawned by the discriminating false narratives associating them with the Coronavirus will be a miscarriage of justice. This parade of lies and mischaracterizations has stoked a venomous assault against Asians in this country.

These terroristic embers have never been fully extinguished, embers lit and fanned by the ideology of White supremacy. Black Americans, Latinos and Asians have long been the targets of bigoted vitriol and violence, hatred too often witnessed by a great number of apathetic minds and unsympathetic hearts — but more importantly, witnesses who are unwilling to extinguish the hatred.

We cannot be a land of liberty and still live in fear. We cannot be the land of liberty under a misguided and misinterpreted constitutional right to bear arms, a freedom of speech that allows for unrestrained hate to be spoken from the mouths of the most powerful people in our country and others, and an explicit undermining of our democracy. Hate against Asians is no different than hate against Indigenous peoples, against Blacks, and against Latinos. White supremacy has been the problem since the founding of our country and will continue to be until we the people destroy it at its roots.

As people of faith, we have a greater witness for whom we are obligated to take action. It is the God whose name we have attached to the founding documents of this country and whose name we have attached to the currency of our economy. We may have forgotten the lives lost to domestic terrorism at the hands of White supremacists, but God has not. God also has not and will not forget our inaction. Let us not continue to forget and instead move into prayer and action.

Rev. John C. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D.
Chair, Board of Directors | Gamaliel Network
Read the Gamaliel National Religious Leaders’ Caucus’ Theological Statement on Hate Crimes and White Supremacy.