We, the congregation at the United Churches of Langley,

are welcoming. Indeed, we are known to say “all are welcome”, and that “all means all.”

This fact makes our community the kind of excellent place that it is.

All people are welcome, but some actions are not.
Our intentions may not match the impact of our words and actions.
United Churches of Langley aims to better equip us all to be more loving, understanding followers of Christ.
This includes changing harmful behaviors, and learning to not only be inclusive of, but to celebrate diversity.

We are not a community of hate. Thus, we will not tolerate the weaponization of words or symbols
used to cause undue harm within or in the name of our community.

Hate speech is defined here as communication which takes the form of cruel language or symbology that is leveraged with an intent to degenerate the personhood/story/identity of other people. Hate speech is not protest, prophetic imagination, or truth spoken to power. Hate speech is, rather, language that tears at the humanity of people. Hate speech can be quiet, hate speech can sound rational, and can even be unintentional, but hate speech is never acceptable at the United Churches of Langley. We engage with and learn from our mistakes and invite others to do the same.

 

·         We will never allow our meetings to be a space in which hate speech is tolerated.

·         We will never allow our online meetings to function as platforms for hate speech.

·         We will always hold the people who enter our space - online or in person - accountable for their communication, particularly when it is exercised with the intention of causing violence of any kind to marginalized peoples.

It would do us well to remember that genocide is always, without exception, begun with acts of hate speech. Doing our utmost to prevent hate speech goes a long way toward preventing hate crimes.

We are, instead, a community of inclusion and a people of welcome. We understand that in congregations like ours who hold their dogmas loosely and their community tightly, there is still a chance for mistakes to be made. Interpersonal dialogue can be a site of just such mistakes.

All offensive dialogue is not hate speech, but all offensive dialogue, by definition, has a heightened potential to cause harm. Accidentally using improper language to refer to someone (unknowingly using a slur, for example) is not necessarily hate speech, but it does cause harm, and is thus not what we stand for.

 

·         We will be gentle as we learn the best ways to speak together.

·         We will be compassionate as the community earnestly learns.

·         We will vigilantly guard the most vulnerable among us from the forces of hate.

At the United Churches of Langley, all really are welcome, and by all we really do mean all. We commit to making sure that the disenfranchised peoples of the lower mainland feel this most acutely. 

Some Terminology:

 

Dog Whistles are seemingly innocuous words, images, or phrases that members of a certain group can use to signal their allegiance to that group. These symbols might not seem like a big deal to some of us, but they have historically been used to coordinate hate crimes.

Mediums of hate speech are not just shouted words, nor are they just words. Many hate groups (of which there are, in fact, a contingent in the lower mainland) communicate their ideology through memes, short videos, or jokes. Often, when people use these forms of hate speech, they feel that their speech is protected, because they claim that they are just seeking to cause people to laugh. Such laughter is often at the expense of marginalized communities, who are that much easier to attack when laughter has made them seem a little bit less human, as seen in this Guardian article

Free Expression/free speech is the shorthand that we often use to refer to all the laws (in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) that give us the right to say the things we want to say. Hate speech is not legally protected as free speech in any context or at any time.

Further Reading:

   

For parents From the UN