In the wake of the blatant racism displayed in Charlottesville, I find I cannot remain silent. I also realize that what you are about to read will anger some and alienate others. So be it. It is my hope, however, that most will be encouraged to make a change for the better.

I denounce any group that places itself above any other. This means I denounce those who believe the white population is better than those of another color.

I denounce those persons of color who believe they are better than the white population or any other.

I denounce any faction within religious traditions that spew hatred.

I denounce any group or organization that wrongfully exerts their power and authority over innocent persons.

The list goes on.

Just because someone is different does not make them evil. Just because someone holds different values does not make them less of a human being. Just because someone disagrees with "me" does not make them wrong or stupid.

Do you not realize our society is being led as sheep by charismatic voices and personalities that know how to feed the baser instincts of the human mind and ego?

Do you not realize we are being maneuvered by masters of manipulation who find pleasure in making people do their bidding?

Do you not realize we are living the results of decades of judgments and prejudices against varying groups of persons?

Hatred, revenge, an erroneous sense of entitlement, jealousy, unbridled anger and prejudice are all very easy to let into one's way of thinking and living.

Have you learned to hate someone whose skin is a different color than your own, or whose opinion is different than yours? Why do you hate that person? Do you even know him or her? Have you engaged in conversation?

It is very, very easy to pass judgment on someone you don't know simply based on appearances and assumptions. That is prejudice. You pre-judge someone without knowing anything about them.

Jesus said, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

He also said, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

It is time for everyone to start exercising their brain and intellect.

It is time to start utilizing common sense.

It is time to start thinking and pondering instead of acting and reacting precipitously.

It is time to start living the teachings of Jesus — all of them, not just a few that are easy.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.