An open letter from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in response to the events of August 11th and 12th
On August 11th and 12th, 2017, white supremacists held a rally entitled “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, VA, taking place in part on the University of Virginia campus. The rally drew large crowds of counter-protesters and eventually turned violent, culminating in a deadly attack when a man deliberately drove a car into a crowd, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring dozens. As the nation reeled from the events, President Donald Trump elicited opprobrium for his denouncement of “hatred, violence, and bigotry on many sides.” On August 14th, UVA’s Department of Religious Studies released a statement unequivocally denouncing the white supremacist ideology of the rally and the resulting violence.
Excerpt from the Department’s Letter (August 14, 2017)
“As a department, we advocate for no single religious faith or political point of view. Our faculty comprises scholars who practice different religions or no religion at all. Our professors, all of whom serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, hold a range of political views. Those who are American citizens vote their consciences individually in elections, for a wide array of political parties. Amid this political and national diversity, we stand united in our unanimous and unequivocal condemnation of those who promote hate, by way of violent speech and action—the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the neo-Fascists, the anti-Semites. And we regard this condemnation as the expression of a simple, moral truth rather than a political statement.”
What we like about this statement
- Represents the views of faculty from across the political spectrum coming together to unequivocally denounce hate and violence.
- Acknowledges impact of the event on students due to its proximity to campus.
- Pledges solidarity with counter-protesters, students affected by the events, and the entire student body.
- Promises support to the entire student body and pledges to develop new initiatives to support students.