Friends in Faith,
As President of the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, I write to communicate profound concern at the shocking and intolerable 149% rise in the frequency of reported domestic acts of terror, violence, hate crimes, harassment and discrimination against Asian-Americans and persons of Asian descent. The March 16, 2021, murders of eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian women, has focused national attention on this pressing issue. Such violence is an affront to human dignity and the kingdom of God as we know it and ought to be of serious concern to any follower of Jesus Christ.
Just over nine months ago, I was writing to denounce and condemn systemic violence against African Americans. My statement was unequivocal: “Black lives matter!” Today, my statement is equally unequivocal: We must not tolerate the rhetoric of racism, nor actions arising from racism, misogyny and xenophobia. We stand against anti-Asian sentiment and the violence it produces.
The leadership of the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is committed to the biblical account declaring all human beings to be image-bearers of their Creator and therefore precious to God. We are further grounded in the belief that all have been reconciled to God in Christ. We’re to love the God who creates and redeems entirely and others as ourselves. The Great Commission task is to share that wonderful news and, more importantly, live it. We stand with all victims of gender, ethnic, religious and racially motivated violence.
I’m calling on our members to:
Educate themselves regarding the vast contributions of Asian cultures and faiths to our contemporary global context and to the U.S. in particular.
Speak up and voice truth in the face of racist, sexist and xenophobic statements.
Cultivate deeper dialogue on the meaning of our incredible diversity here in Southern California.
We stand firm in our commitment to our ever-growing global Church and the diversity of peoples, languages and cultures represented. More importantly, we recognize that diversity itself is not meaningful in the absence of love and justice.
I would also like to invite Adventists to take time to personally reflect, examining their own feelings, thoughts and actions with regard to issues of race and hate. As believers, we’re not immune. Racism exists within our Church. Like the sin problem, only Christ can ultimately resolve this. In the meantime, it’s our task to open our souls before God, listen to the Spirit, confess and turn away from that which creates fear and division.
May God grant comfort to the families of those murdered on the 16th in Atlanta.
Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference