In Good Faith

Why should Civil War statues come down? Aren’t they a part of history?

Julia McKay - Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Julia McKay is the minister of High Plains Church Unitarian Universalist and a professional spiritual companion dedicated to embodied life practices that enhance our deepest ways of knowing.

This is about understanding cultural conditioning. We are all of equal value. Yet, that is not what we have been taught. It is easy to say “one nation, indivisible,” but it is quite another to enact. An honest, realistic awareness of our own impact on other people’s lives is difficult to achieve. Our responsibilities are different depending on where we stand. The marginalized are burdened with regaining self-determination, finding solidarity, and healing from the soul-denying experiences of living. Those whose voices have historically been in power must be willing to re-learn a more complete version of history and renounce soul-denying behaviors that inhibit human dignity. This takes great courage all around. At the least, these human symbols we erect should be ones who empower us all. 

Eric Sandras - Christian

Eric Sandras, Ph.D.— Author of four books, “Dr. E” leads The Sanctuary Church in the heart of Old Colorado City and teaches graduate courses in human sexuality, counseling and psychology.

Every time I’m asked this question, former President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 quote rattles around in my head, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” There was much more context to that speech than this space allows, but I marvel how something inanimate became so symbolic of necessary change. Our country has statues that are symbolic reminders of division and oppression to some, as much as they are reminders of exploration and change to others. Both are “history” through different lenses. Perhaps honest representation of the story is more important than reactive destruction of the symbol. That would require open gates of communication and respect wouldn’t it? Jesus overturned tables when necessary and demonstrated love as necessity. May we do the same.

Jeff Scholes - Agnostic

Jeffrey Scholes, Ph.D., is an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

I will start (and end) by differentiating memorials and history. The actions and words of Gen. Robert E. Lee are a part of history; bronze statues of him are not. The vast majority of statues commemorating Confederate soldiers were erected in the early 20th century and then mid-century. The latter were built almost a century after the end of the Civil War. What does this tell us? It tells us that these statues were consciously put up at times when white America was particularly fearful of Black empowerment — the beginning of resistance to Jim Crow law and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Therefore, these monuments are anachronistic and detached from the past, and more appropriately, but laughably weak, reminders to African Americans of a future of white supremacy. 

Ahriana Platten - New Thought-Unity

Dr. Ahriana Platten is founder-executive director of In Good Faith, leads Unity Spiritual Center and speaks around the country on the topics of interfaith and intercultural understanding.

How many statues have been erected to glorify those who captured or brutally killed Native Americans, or those who murdered slaves and fought to keep people enslaved? Your question only addresses one war; we must address all wars and our commemoration of them. Some statues have been raised to honor those who saved lives in battle — often through the slaughter of opponents. Some have been raised to honor discovery — at the expense of original dwellers. I believe we should move all statues that memorialize war to museums. In that environment, we can educate ourselves about history and its often-terrifying human impact.