Witness against hate violence

Resolution for the 2011 New York Annual Conference

Whereas, in 2010 the New York Annual Conference passed a resolution drawing attention to the problem of hate crimes in the United States and calling on the conference to “commit itself to an active ministry opposing bigotry, hatred and violence in all its forms” and further resolving “that our clergy preach and teach about the sins of hate and bigotry and the Christian imperative to respond; and that they lift up the common humanity of victims of hate crimes, whether targeted for their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, sex, economic status, immigration status, disability, or any other characteristic”; and

Whereas, since the passage of that resolution, there have been a number of high-profile and highly disturbing incidents of hate violence within the geographic jurisdiction of the conference, most notably the horrific abduction, torture and sexual assault of three gay men in the Bronx in October 2010, as well as other incidents including an unprecedented spate of hate crime attacks on Latin Americans in Staten Island and the slashing of a Muslim cab driver; beyond these headlines, the majority of reported hate crimes in New York have targeted our Jewish and Black neighbors; and while official FBI statistics indicate a decline in reported hate crimes in the U.S. for the last year those numbers are available (2009), both New York and Connecticut saw an increase in that same timeframe; nationally, violence against gay people also continued to rise; and

Whereas, since the passage of our 2010 resolution there have also been positive developments in the combatting of hate violence, including the passage of the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and more humbly and locally, the My Brother’s Keeper: People of Faith Confront Hate Crimes symposium that brought together 150 people from NYAC and was sponsored by an unprecedented coalition of conference-wide organizations; and

Whereas, those gathered at the My Brother’s Keeper event came away from that day with a profound  understanding that the symposium represented but a beginning of the critical work of combatting hate violence and the prejudices and hate speech that fuel it; and that above all, we must not be silent in the face of bias and bigotry; be it therefore

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference publicly and swiftly react to acts of hate violence that take place in its geographic jurisdiction, so that the world may know that Christ’s people are opposed to hate violence and so that the victims and the communities of the victims may know that we stand with them; and be it further

Resolved, that we encourage local congregations to study and discuss the problem of hate crimes together as a community; and that the conference help provide appropriate study materials, and specifically, that for the next year (from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) the conference provide the following on its website, once a month in the “News from the Annual Conference” email and twice in that year in the Vision: a short sentence or two encouraging such study along with a link to the My Brother’s Keeper resource materials (on the Methodists in New Directions website); and be it further

Resolved, that we especially encourage multiple congregations to come together across differences such as race or ethnicity and undertake such studies together; and that district superintendents help facilitate such multi-congregational studies by reviewing all churches in their district to identify appropriate cross-racial or cross-ethnic pairings or groupings, and then speaking with leaders from those congregations and providing them with the My Brother’s Keeper  website information at District Action Days, charge conferences and one-on-one yearly meetings with clergy.

Passed June 10, 2011