NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – More than a dozen Baptist ministers gathered Wednesday to condemn the white nationalist rallies taking place in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville this Saturday.
“This movement is evil. It is contrary to everything we are called to be as followers of Christ,” said Dr. Randy Davis, President of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
At a news conference in Franklin, Dr. Davis used strong language, calling the white supremacist movement “satanic.”
“If history holds true, the intent of these groups is to fear monger and fan the flames of racial hatred, ” he said. “We’d like to ask all Christians to pray that there will be peace on Saturday.”MORE: Group behind Tennessee rallies say more than 100 could show up
The group represents 3,200 Baptist ministers across the state. They are urging people to stay as far as possible away from Saturday’s demonstrations.
They also called on their communities to spread love and get to know your neighbor.
Dr. Thi Mitsamphanh, with International Community Church, said he thinks the reason why “most people don’t love each other is because they don’t know each other.”
He continued, “And so I think the combat is for us to go across the street. Get to know our neighbors who don’t look like us or who come from a different culture, and we will come to find out that we have more in common than we might think.”RELATED: #MurfreesboroLoves: Graphic spreads on Facebook ahead of white nationalist rally
The pastors said groups rallying this weekend are citing the Antioch church shooting and immigration issues as part of the motivation behind what they are doing.
Dr. Mitsamphanh told News 2 he move to Tennessee 30 years ago as a refugee from Laos. He was 4 years old.
“We fled and lived in a refugee camp Thailand for two years before being resettled in Nashville,” he said. “As far as immigration goes, as Dr. Davis has stated I, too, believe that we need to have secure borders and yet find a solution so that we can be loving and compassionate to all people.”
And to note, it’s very rare for this group to come together and make a formal announcement like this. It’s been seven years since they did it last.