Walking away from racism: Two men finding forgiveness

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two men and their unlikely friendship is teaching others the strength of forgiveness. One a former white supermacist; the other lost his father to a racially driven attack.

Arno Michaelis quit the hate group, The Hammerskins, more than a decade before a member killed Pardeep Kaleka’s father and five others while they were worshipping. Guilt of organizing the group still haunts Arno.

“Self-forgiveness is always a huge challenge for me and it will be to my grave. And it should be. I’ve done horrible things,” Arno said.

The two were brought to Union College by the school’s President David Harris. Harris extended an invitation after hearing the story of their unlikely bond.

“We all wrong people in some ways and we all have to think of forgiveness or not. Hopefully, we can take from this, extreme example — lessons that will apply to our everyday lives,” Harris said.

According to the University of Maryland, in nearly 50 years, there’s been 150 attacks on religious organizations in the United States excluding the ones from 2019.

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