No room for violence in pursuit of peace

In the shadow of the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., it’s worth noting the degree to which violence seems to be begetting violence around the country.

We are an increasingly polarized nation and our reaction to the “other side” is increasingly reflecting that reality.

In the case of Charlottesville, a person was killed. Next time the number of deaths may be more.

It is pretty low-hanging fruit to say that Nazi ideas are objectively terrible, as is white supremacy, but it is difficult to see how the cause of peace, love, justice and equality is advanced by reacting violently to those whose views and actions are abhorrent.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

The story of America is one in which our more perfect union has been greatly advanced by those who sought justice through peace and responded to hatred with loving kindness.

In that spirit, we should combat the hatred expressed in racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry through peaceful and loving means. And we should never be silent in the face of hatred.

As images have emerged both from Charlottesville and other rallies that have drawn out the extremes in our body politic, I am aware, both as a Christian and an American, that our nation increasingly feels like a powder keg that is about to blow. No one wins when that happens.

— The Rev. Dr. James D. McLeod Jr., First Presbyterian Church, Anniston

Violence can beget more violence

I was taken aback a bit by this question. “Is it OK to punch a Nazi?”

I remember when this question became a “thing” after white nationalist Richard B. Spencer was punched while speaking to a reporter. There were many who celebrated that he was smacked, but there were also those who found the violent action completely out of control.

Nick Spencer, well-known writer for the comic book hero Captain America, observed: “Today is difficult, but cheering violence against speech, even of the most detestable, disgusting variety, is not a look that will age well.”

Galatians 5:19-24 describes so many of the prevalent behaviors  in the world: “... the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law …”

There are laws against punching people, which is known as assault or battery. Assault means “the unlawful laying of hands on another or an attempt to do corporal hurt to another. Battery is the actual striking of another person.”

Punching a Nazi or anyone else should be avoided if at all possible. Proverbs 17:14 describes the beginning of strife as like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

— Beverly Mattox, Word Alive International Outreach