The Adventist Peace Fellowship denounces the hatred and terrorism unleashed this week on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. We stand against all violence and bloodshed, and all the more so when the victims are targeted because of their immigrant status and religious convictions. We stand against white supremacy and violent nationalism. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, wishing to express our concern and solidarity.
In a dark hour such as this, what can one say? And more importantly, what can one do?
We—Adventist Christians who believe every human is created in the image of God—wish to speak a clear message opposing violence against people of other faiths, against anyone, to be sure. However, concrete responses are also needed. Such actions can be seen in New Zealand itself, for example when Prime Minister Ardern visited family members of victims, promising financial support and changes to gun laws. Although we recognize the hazards of advocating for change in foreign, sovereign countries, we can only hope that Adventists in New Zealand will support such efforts—these are the things we can do.
For those living outside of New Zealand, what can be done in our own countries and communities? What are we doing to reduce hate and increase respect? What kinds of sensible gun laws are we willing to support? How welcoming of immigrants are we? To what degree are we building relationships across religious boundaries?
In this time of great loss in New Zealand, may we be reminded to pursue peace and support freedom of religion in our own context. May the Creator God of the universe be near these grieving families, and may Adventists be near them in solidarity as well.