In the wake of a contentious election, minority communities across the U.S. are targets of an upsurge in hate crimes, notably on college campuses. Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, Jews, LGBTQ people and others are suffering physical assaults, insults and threats.

This last Sunday, our church heard from Yale’s Muslim Students Association about how female Muslim students on campuses across the country have been assaulted because they were wearing headscarves, and how Muslim students at Yale are experiencing distress. This week, an Asian member of our congregation, while walking on the campus of another college, was assaulted and badly beaten by a group of drunk young men shouting racial epithets. African-American students on our sister campus at the University of Pennsylvania found their names on a webpage devoted to “the daily lynching.” An alumna of our church, now teaching at another university, says her Chinese friends have been mocked and threatened in recent days. A Latina member of our church described what a frightening time this is for the Latino community, a particular target of hateful threats and violence. She also expressed the feeling — shared by many women — that our society has effectively decided to trivialize sexual assault. Jewish and LGBTQ communities have similarly experienced increased threats and attacks in recent days.

This is not a new phenomenon. Our church seeks to be a welcoming community for international students and scholars at Yale and their families, and most of our members are Asians or Asian-Americans. At Christmastime in 2014 we arrived for Sunday worship at Dwight Hall Chapel and found anti-Asian graffiti on the bathroom wall, including swastikas and the words “F**k Ch*nks.” Other minority groups at Yale have experienced worse. But recent months — particularly this last week — have seen a significant increase in hate crimes and open racism on campuses across this country.

During the 15 years we lived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, we frequently experienced similar threats and attacks because we were white Americans and Christians. Several times we were physically assaulted, and on one occasion Joseph was beaten and almost killed by a lynch mob. So we have an idea of how minority communities are feeling (but not fully, because our American passports meant we always had an “exit option”). We were deeply grateful when Mauritanian Muslim leaders spoke out expressing solidarity and defending our right to live in peace.

Jesus says we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Luke 6:31). Islam, Judaism and other religious and nonreligious traditions have similar teachings. As volunteer pastors caring for international students, we do not speak for Yale, but we feel compelled as members of the Yale community (and, one of us, as a Yale alumnus), to speak out in defense of minorities targeted by insults, threats and violence at Yale and other campuses and communities across this country. Everyone has a fundamental right to live in peace and security, and a right to be protected from hateful people who would threaten or physically harm them because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexuality.

At the heart of America’s professed values is that we are “dedicated to the proposition” that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that people in authority must protect those rights equally for all people without distinction. At the heart of the Christian faith is a simple idea: although human beings look on outward appearance, God looks on our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), and Christ loves all without discrimination (Galatians 3:28, for example, rejects discrimination by ethnicity, socioeconomic status or gender). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described this as his hope that his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

King described these rights as a “sacred obligation” and “promissory note” signed by our nation’s founders, but added: “America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” We are still defaulting on that note, but this sacred obligation requires us to stand up to the bullies terrorizing our fellow-citizens and fellow-humans.

We urge readers to think about what you can do to uphold this sacred obligation. If you see someone expressing hostility toward minority members of our community, do not pass by in silence. Proactively, reach out to people who are different from you and ask how you might partner with them to make Yale and our country a safe place for all, as we strive toward what Dr. King called the “Beloved Community.”

Rev. Joseph Cumming grd ’05 and Rev. Michele Cumming are pastors at the International Church at Yale. Contact them at joseph.cumming@yale.edu and michele.cumming@alumni.duke.edu .