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Pastors respond to neo-Nazi actions

Editor's note: As a response to the recent activity of 'Neo-Nazi' groups in the Tigard area (reference articles in The Oregonian on March 4 and the Tigard-Tualatin Times on March 6) pastors from around Tigard, Lake Oswego and Beaverton have come together to draft a response. Their comments are as follows:

(This is) an open letter from Christian pastors in the greater Tigard area … a letter in response to hatred and the use of religion as justification for it:

As representatives of Christian congregations in the Tigard (Lake Oswego and Beaverton) area, we stand together for the furthering of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the building of God's kingdom. While there are things on which we disagree, we agree on the following. The teaching of scripture is a teaching of love not hate.

Jesus told his followers 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' (Matt. 5:44) Even further than that Jesus said, 'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.' (John 13:35).

Recent activities in our community that are meant to foster hatred and racial discrimination have prompted the coming together of the Christian community and the writing of this letter. While we solidly uphold and support the right that every citizen has for free speech and expression, we are just as solidly against the using of those rights to intimidate or instill fear in others. Any group that endeavors to do such things sets itself apart from the Christian community and can not claim affiliation with it.

As representatives of the Christian community we also ask for forgiveness from those in our community who have been damaged or offended by actions motivated by hatred. We are sorry for the ill that has been aimed at you by others, and we commit to work, each in our own way, to make our community a place of love rather than hatred and a place where justice reigns rather than terror.

As representatives of the Body of Christ that is the Christian community (locally) we represent great diversity. While our practices of faith are varied, and our doctrinal points diverse, we are united in this: Our Christian faith is a faith of love, not hate. This is most certainly true.

In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ,

Rev. Dr. Robert A. Garwig

Calvin Presbyterian Church, Tigard

Rev. Raggs Ragan

St. James Episcopal Church, Tigard

Rev. Jeff Kallevig,

Christ The King Lutheran Church, Tigard

Rev. George LaDu

Jubilee Christian Fellowship, Stafford

Rev. Glenn Schroder

Portland Vineyard Church, Tigard

Rev. Steve Blikstad

Trinity Evangelical Church, Tigard

Rev. Kim Frenz

Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Lake Oswego

Rev. Kelle Nelson-Bunkers

Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Lake Oswego

Rev. Louis Brunner

Pastor Emeritus, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Lake Oswego

Rev. Chuck Boman

Chaplain, Lake Oswego Fire Department

Rev. Cal Habig

Tigard Christian Church

Dan Cammack

Minister, Tigard Community Friends Church

Don Walters

Minister, Tigard Community Friends Church

Pastor Steve McCracken

Grace Point Community Church, Tigard

Dan Goodyear

Minister, Southwest Church of Christ, Tigard

Craig Benjamin

Minister, Southwest Church of Christ, Tigard

Ken Hines

Minister, Southwest Church of Christ, Tigard

Copies of this letter were also sent to several mayors and newspapers in the local area.

Tigard police monitor alleged neo-Nazi incidents

By PAMPLIN MEDIA SERVICE

TIGARD - Tigard police used the assistance of a Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue ladder truck recently to remove a large flag displaying a swastika hanging from a utility pole on Highway 217 near I-5.

Tigard police responded to that and five other similar alleged neo-Nazi related incidents in the past week.

Tigard public information officer Jim Wolf said the department has no suspects but noted that officers are monitoring the situation.

Reports of neo-Nazi symbols began Feb. 26 when a resident reported a swastika flag tethered to a utility pole along Highway 217 near Southwest 72nd Avenue. Police removed the flag, which was attached to a red balloon. Two days later, another flag was found attached to a utility pole along Highway 217 near I-5. That flag was removed with the help of TVF and R crews.

Another flag was found flying above a vacant business in the 13500 block of Highway 99-W. Police removed that flag, which appeared to have been thrown on top of the building with a bottle and attached to an anti-Semitic flyer.

According to police, neighborhoods in the area south of Durham Road near Southwest 98th Street and along Derry Dell Court reported finding anti-Semitic flyers scattered on the streets. Tigard police responded to both neighborhoods and picked up the flyers, Wolf said. The flyers included contact information for the National Socialist Workers.

Incidents of anti-Semitic behavior are something the city of Tigard has experienced before. In 2004, 200 people rallied in Cook Park to protest a white supremacist group's recruitment tactics that used racist literature. Wolf said the 2004 incident also involved hate crimes that police were able to connect to a few suspects.

The recent incidents have not reached the level of a hate crime, Wolf said.