HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The recent tragedies in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton inspired people in the Huntsville community to hold a ‘United Against Hate Forum’ Sunday.
A panel of local faith leaders took on topics like immigration, white nationalism, and mass shootings.
“Ignorance is not a sin, but the willingness to remain ignorant is a sin,” said The Rev. Travis Collins from First Baptist in Huntsville. “It’s not just about a gun or a manifesto, it’s about policy.”
Around 400 people, of different races, religions, and politics, gathered in the First Presbyterian Church to discuss how to combat ideologies of hate and violence.
“We’re not under any illusion that we’re going to find solutions, but we do think we have to start the difficult conversation around these issues,” said Tara Bulger, Senior Pastor First Presbyterian Church of Huntsville.
The panelists tackled issues like recognizing privilege in race, wealth, and education. They also discussed how to go beyond thoughts and prayers after violence.
“I think the churches need to be seen countering this narrative of violence that we’re in, countering this narrative of division that we’re in,” said Immigrant Justice Activist Yalitza LaFontaine.
Listeners said prayers, took notes and came up with a plan to put words into action.
“Jesus did not call us to charity, although charity is good. Jesus calls us to change,” said Spiritual Leader Diane Jack, To reach people that have been disenfranchised, who are hurting, and people that feel like they are not a part of. I will double my efforts on that because I do know that there are a lot of people that feel like they have been marginalized.”
They say that while from the outside, discussions about immigration and gun violence may seem difficult in Alabama.
“I think Alabamians are smart I think they’re reflective and I think despite the media narratives that happen outside the state, people are prepared to listen about possible solutions irrespective of where those solutions come from,” said Minister Dexter Strong.