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Eastern Iowa faith communities ‘shatter the silence’ on racial injustice

Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 10:21 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Sunday, faith leaders from eastern Iowa shattered the silence that they say the faith community has kept at times in the face of racial injustice.

Those leaders were joined by several community members on Mays Island in Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon for a “Shattering the Silence” event as part of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa’s Faithful Voices for Racial Justice Project.

The project began over the summer and has consisted mainly of virtual meetings over Zoom, according to Rev. Gary Sneller of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Sneller said their goal is to bring people and communities of faith together to support their Black brothers and sisters in the pursuit of racial justice and equity.

“I hope that we as people of faith and as people who live in a predominately White society can lift our voices and make sure that we acknowledge that this is a real issue,” Sneller said. “This is a not something that is made up. It is a reality, and that even though many of us in the White community don’t experience it firsthand, we need to acknowledge that this is a reality and to help alleviate it, to change it, and to become a more just society.”

Sneller and other participants Sunday meditated, prayed, held a moment of silence for eight minutes and 47 seconds, and then shattered that silence when Sneller drummed a cymbal, which they said symbolized the faith community committing to end its own silence.

Meg Wagner, an Episcopal priest from eastern Iowa, said part of that involves educating people about the difference between racism and systemic racism and helping people understand the systems that perpetuate inequity.

Wagner said as people of faith, they’re called to call out these inequities and to do something about them.

“For me especially as a Christian leader, I know that the Christian church bears a lot of responsibility for developing the systems of inequity that we see today, starting with the doctrine of discovery,” Wagner said. “So we have our own responsibility to shatter our own silence about the ways that we’ve been complicit with white supremacy.”

At the same time the “Shatter the Silence” event was happening in Cedar Rapids, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa held a similar event in Des Moines.

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