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Faces on Faith: Accidental overload brings important message

By Staff | Apr 30, 2015

On April 19 just past, the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties sponsored its annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust) Memorial Service at Temple Beth Shalom in Cape Coral.

On April 19 just past, the Naples chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) held its annual Interfaith Convocation, a worship service bringing together faith communities that welcome all no matter their sexual orientation, at Naples United Church of Christ.

That these two events took place on the same day (at the same time, in fact!) was an accident of calendar overload . . . there is just too much going on in our area!

But it is an accident with an important message.

Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, as were 5 million non-Jews. Among the latter were homosexuals (and Roma, Poles, communists, the mentally and physically disabled, and many others).

The Nazis identified those they considered undesirable with a kind of “badge system,” and most of those badges were triangular in shape. Jews were branded with a yellow star (two triangles, one atop the other).

The pink triangle was primarily for homosexual men. Roma wore a brown triangle. The purple triangle was for Jehovah’s witnesses and members of other small religious groups.

The red triangle identified political prisoners. And on and on it went . . .

The accidental coincidence of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Service and the PFLAG Interfaith Convocation reminds us that hatred and bigotry are blindly indiscriminate.

If any one of us is a target of prejudice and its ensuing consequences of oppression and violence, then all of us are imperiled.

As Protestant pastor Martin Niemoller so famously wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.

To every form of hatred and exclusion, we must all say “Never Again,” and then we must be vigilant that our actions, personally and politically, guarantee that abuse, violence, and genocide do not cannot occur.

It’s not just the moral thing to do. It’s imperative for the very survival of us all.