Reform Movement Condemns Series of Suspicious Church Fires

Contact: Max Rosenblum or Claire Shimberg
202.387.2800 |

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2015 – In response to the spate of fires at predominantly black churches in the southern United States, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

In just the last two weeks, suspicious fires have damaged at least seven predominantly African-American churches across five southern states. These fires, which come on the heels of the violent hate crime that took the lives of nine men and women at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., contribute to the knowledge that our country is profoundly struggling to achieve its highest aspirations of justice and equality for all. These recent incidents are of a piece with the racially motivated violence that has historically targeted the African-American community, and such violence must be condemned by all people of goodwill. As our sacred texts teach us, all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27), and are therefore deserving of full equality and respect.

As people of faith, we know the importance of churches and all houses of worship to a community. Such institutions are places of solace, learning and love. Attacks on them are deeply and particularly painful. As a group who has too often been persecuted throughout history because of our faith, we are all too familiar with these kinds of tragedies. We stand in full solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the African-American community during this challenging time. As law enforcement officials investigate these fires and the church communities begin to rebuild, we call on people of all faiths and no faith to express their moral, social and spiritual support for those who have been targets. As the families of the victims of the Charleston massacre have so eloquently reminded us in the past weeks, expressions of love are among the best and most beautiful responses to expressions of hate.