We at Winthrop Center Friends Church (Quakers) are greatly troubled by the divisive and racist statements being made in local, national and international venues and on social media.

From the mayoral race in Lewiston, to alleged police brutality throughout the United States, to terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Mali, the rhetoric too often seems focused on fanning fear — fear of change, fear of people who don’t look like us, fear of events over which we have no control.

Fear divides people into “us” and “them” and makes us forget to follow Jesus’ example by considering all to be neighbors, regardless of skin color, religion or ethnic origin.

We ask our public officials to remember that prejudicial speech and negative comments can lead to strong, negative and violent reactions.

We commit ourselves, and we ask our neighbors to commit, to opposing speech that incites hatred and fear and to pursuing peaceful means to bring an end to suffering.

In our streets, homeless men and women ask for help, in our schools children are bullied, and Syrian refugees flee the same terrorists that recently struck in Paris, Beirut and Mali.

We can each do something — write a letter protesting racist speech, work in a soup kitchen, tutor refugees or contribute to an organization that is trying to make a difference.

May we remember that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18) and love our neighbors.

Maggie Edmondson, pastor

Winthrop Center Friends Church

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