Sand sculpture on Venice Beach.
Credit: Kris Dahlin

Events of January 6, 2021

The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council stands on the side of justice and against the white supremacy that still greatly influences our nation, fueling fear and division. Two weeks ago, religious symbols were used to foster hate, violence and bigotry. That is not what religion and faith are about. When people proclaim that “God is on their side” as they carry out crimes of hate and strengthen systems of oppression, we must speak out. We call out those who weaponize religion in such instances as the abuse of a cross by insurrectionists as part of their violent occupation of the Capitol, the promotion of violence against Jews (the Camp Auschwitz and 6MWE shirts), the comment that “Hitler was right about one thing” by a member of Congress, and much more.

God is on the side of the poor and the dispossessed. As people of faith, we condemn leadership that fans the flames of hatred and injustice—who appoint people to powerful positions who not only undermine democracy but actively work to ensure that the systemic racism grows even stronger. We condemn the actions of those who actively aid and abet criminals and terrorists in their quest to establish a country where white supremacy stands strong. We believe that had the terrorists been black, they would have been shot before ever reaching the Capitol steps. Instead, these terrorists were allowed inside. This is the result of white supremacy in power.

We all need space to heal, not just from the events of that week, but from cumulative anger and grief. The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council encourages you to seek support from friends, family, counselors, your spiritual community or one of us on the Council. We also encourage you to work against the embedded systems of injustice that we live in, the systems that fostered white supremacist leadership and stoked the events of this past week.

We were given a glimpse of what hate and white supremacy can lead to. We will all need unwavering compassion, courage and support in the days and weeks ahead. We invite you to join us in our efforts to help create a more loving, equitable and beloved community.
Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen, President Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council
Rev. Carolyn Baskin-Bell, Senior Pastor, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Santa Monica
Kathleen Benjamin,
ALSP, Agape International Spiritual Center
Pastor James Boline,
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Santa Monica (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Janet Bregar PHD., Village Church, Los Angeles
Douglas W. Clark,
Retired Teacher
Neil Comess-Daniel,
Rabbi Emeritus, Beth Shir Shalom
Rev. Debrah Friedland-vanZyl, Interfaith Minister, So. Calif. Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
Dr. Amir Hussain,
Professor of Theological
Studies, LMU
Bonnie Johnstone,
Sam R. LaDue,
Seminary Intern, Mt Olive Lutheran Church
Shawn Landres, PhD,
Jumpstart Labs
Ericka Lesley,
Co-Chair Intercultural Equity & Excellence DAC (SMMUSD)
Darci Niva,
The Westside Coalition
Laura Owens,
Co-Rabbi, B’nai Horin
Children of Freedom
Diane Rose,
Rabbi and Cantor,
Cool Shul Santa Monica
Rev. Peg Schultz-Akerson,
D. Min Lutheran Church
of the Master
Rev. Eric C. Shafer,
Pastor, Mt. Olive
Lutheran Church
Tahil Sharma,
Hindu-Sikh Interfaith Minister
in Residence, Episcopal
Diocese of Los Angeles
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Santa Monica, CA
Rev. Andre van Zijl,
Interfaith Minister, All Paths Divinity School
Willa Wells,
Commission for the Senior Community, Santa Monica