“To seek the divine in all whom I meet”

President Carter

At the presentation of the "To Bigotry, No Sanction" public statement from Massachusetts Inferfaith Leaders at the State House in Boston, September 7, 2010, Rev. Dr. Nick Carter, president, Andover Newton Theological School, made the following comments:

As a Christian minister, the president of the nation’s oldest graduate theological institution and as a citizen I am compelled to stand here today. I stand because among the most fundamental of my beliefs is a responsibility to seek the divine in all whom I meet. I stand on behalf of every student who comes to my school to learn the fundamentals of faith-filled witness and ministry. I also stand as a citizen, eager to affirm the most fundamental values upon which my nation was founded.

I lament that an invidious fear has seized my country. It is numbing the minds of good people, spawning hate-filled utterances, and engendering despicable acts of violence. This fear is antithetical to my faith. From the book of Genesis to the book Revelation, from the covenant of Abraham, to the visitation of angels in Bethlehem, to the Sermon on the Mount, we are told to “fear not.” Faith casts out fear. Thus, to be caught up in this swirling storm, to watch the levees of hope battered by the floods of hate, I must mourn. I mourn and I cry out; not only for those lives lost in the tragedy of 9/11, but also for the tragedy of a nation whose soul is on the verge of being lost because it cannot discern where its true threat lies.

We know that this is not the first time in our nation’s history where the scourge of fear has threatened to rend the fabric of our collective character. Indeed, the most shame-filled chapters in America’s history have been those that were ignited from the dry kindling of ignorance and fear. The haunting lament of four centuries echoes through the families of Native Americans, African Americans, Baptist Americans, Quaker Americans, Catholic Americans, Unitarian Americans, Jewish Americans, Japanese Americans, Hispanic Americans, and now Muslim Americans. And yet,

I am stirred when I realize that it was in the midst of these virulent storms there arose courageous voices that would not let fear silence them or cast them out. They were men and women of resolute heart and deep faith who became midwives to our nation’s soul. They forced us to decide whether the sacred truths we called self-evident were anywhere in evidence and whether we, as a nation, truly believed in their enduring value. It is only from their witness, sacrifice, and martyrdom that we have any claim to be a nation admired of others. Without these prophetic freedom fighters the Statue of Liberty is but a monument to cynicism. I am inspired by the fact that the beautiful lawns of our capitals, parks and commons are decorated with their statues. Few monuments are erected to fear-mongers and demagogues.

As fear and ignorance of Muslims engulfs our nation, and the threat from within grows larger than the threat from without, we stand on here this historic and symbolic Hill. We must be mindful of the words of John Winthrop nearly 4 centuries ago:

for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken …, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God …; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants,

And so I rise that we as God’s servants shall not be shamed. I rise and stand with this gathered community to give public witness to my faith, to honor those courageous men and women who sacrificed so much that I might have the right to be here, and to pledge that I will work unceasingly to ensure that the rights I enjoy may be the rights of all.