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Bishop responds after racist message posted on S.C. roadside

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, has released a statement regarding a racist message posted on a roadside sign in South Carolina over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The sign was a digital message board in a high-traffic area in Sumter, South Pike Road near U.S. Route 76. It was tampered with and altered to urge drivers to honk if they hate (racist expletive).

Holston’s statement said the posting of a racist message on an electronic roadside sign in Sumter has prompted much dismay, anger and sorrow.

“Such use of hate speech has gained renewed acceptance in recent years, proving we have a long way to go in fulfilling God’s commandment to love our neighbors.

“As a people of faith opposed to racism and committed to social justice, we must pledge that our response to such an act is to take action through witness, advocacy and prayer. We must resist all efforts by those who would seek to divide us by inciting hate, whether through speech, action or complacency.

“It was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself who reminded us that ‘every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’

“As we take our next faithful steps on this path, let us be tireless in our witness to the love of Jesus Christ and to God’s commandment to love our neighbor. Let us be passionate in our advocacy for justice. Let us be dedicated to constant, active prayer for righteousness to prevail.”

Holston urged people to engage in this effort through “Our Response to Racism,” a resource developed by South Carolina UMC clergy and laity to provide people with tools to listen, lead discussions, strengthen relationships and help in the process of healing within churches and communities.

“Please join me in praying that love will be vigilant and truth will be bold,” Holston said.

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