Denouncing racist beliefs and actions as “blasphemies” against God, Bishop Robert W. McElroy joined with several local interfaith leaders to speak out against bigotry.

The San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) brought together dozens of interfaith leaders, including Bishop McElroy, for a press conference Aug. 18 in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.

The event was held in response to what had taken place Aug. 11-12 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where hundreds of white supremacists had staged a rally against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee; the rally ultimately turned violent, leaving one counter-protester dead and more than 30 other people injured. Two state troopers also died in a helicopter crash, while headed to the scene of the rally.

Beginning with Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan and concluding with Bishop McElroy, several speakers took to the stage outside St. Paul’s Cathedral to reflect on the Charlottesville rally and its aftermath. Speakers included Imam Taha Hassane, Islamic Center of San Diego; Bishop George McKinney, 2nd Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ; Pastor Tania Marquez, First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego; Rev. Mary Sue Brookshire, Pioneer Ocean View United Church of Christ; Rabbi Devorah Marcus, Temple Emanu-El of San Diego; and Bishop Cornelius Bowser, Charity Apostolic Church.

As the event’s final speaker, Bishop McElroy said, “I am proud to stand here today in solidarity with the religious leadership of San Diego to state categorically that the actions, the words and the beliefs of neo-Nazis, the Klan, white militias and all hate groups are blasphemies against the God who is the Creator of the whole human family and looks upon every man, and woman, and child as equal in dignity and in worth.”

The bishop lamented that “one of the most troubling elements” about the incident in Charlottesville was that so many of the participants were young people. He noted that this “puts to the lie” the belief that younger generations will not inherit the racism of the past, and he encouraged his fellow religious leaders to ask parents to discuss this issue with their children.

For his own part, Bishop McElroy said he had already requested that the diocesan Office for Schools and the diocesan Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry work together on designing an educational module “specifically about the Charlottesville moment” for children through young adults.

Full story at The Southern Cross.