A Statement from Christian Ethicists Without Borders on White Supremacy and Racism

 

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I am one of a growing list of signatories of the statement below. If you are a Christian ethicist, I urge you to follow the links at the bottom of the page and to add your name also.

 

A Statement from Christian Ethicists Without Borders on White Supremacy and Racism

 

August 14, 2017

As followers of Jesus Christ and as Christian ethicists representing a range of denominations and schools of thought, we stand in resolute agreement in firmly condemning racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and neo-Nazi ideology as a sin against God that divides the human family created in God’s image.

In January of 2017, white nationalist groups emboldened by the 2016 election planned an armed march against the Jews of Whitefish, Montana. On August 11th and 12th, hundreds of armed neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia. As we mourn the deaths of 32-year old counter-protester Heather Heyer and state troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates from this most recent incident, we unequivocally denounce racist speech and actions against people of any race, religion, or national origin.

White supremacy and racism deny the dignity of each human being revealed through the Incarnation. The evil of white supremacy and racism must be brought face-to-face before the figure of Jesus Christ, who cannot be confined to any one culture or nationality. Through faith we proclaim that God the Creator is the origin of all human persons. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.”

The greatest commandments, as Jesus taught and exemplified, are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves; and so as children of God, and sisters and brothers to all, we hold the following:

  • We reject racism and anti-Semitism, which are radical evils that Christianity must actively resist.
  • We reject the sinful white supremacy at the heart of the “Alt Right” movement as Christian heresy.
  • We reject the idolatrous notion of a national god. God cannot be reduced to “America’s god.”
  • We reject the “America First” doctrine, which is a pernicious and idolatrous error. It foolishly asks Americans to replace the worship of God with the worship of the nation, poisons both our religious traditions and virtuous American patriotism, and isolates this country from the community of nations. Such nationalism erodes our civic and religious life, and fuels xenophobic and racist attacks against immigrants and religious minorities, including our Jewish and Muslim neighbors.
  • We confess that all human beings possess God-given dignity and are members of one human family, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.
  • We proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ has social and political implications. Those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ, therefore, must publicly name evil, actively resist it, and demonstrate a world of harmony and justice in the midst of racial, religious and indeed all forms of human diversity.

Therefore, we call upon leaders of every Christian denomination, especially pastors, to condemn white supremacy, white nationalism, and racism.

We also humbly call upon all Christians, whose baptismal waters are thicker than blood, to resist this evil by committing themselves to:

  • Contemplate and respect the image of God imprinted on each human being.
  • Work across religious traditions to reflect on the ways we have been complicit in upholding and benefiting from the sins of racism and white supremacy.
  • Pray for the strength and courage to stand emphatically against racism, white supremacy, and nationalism in all its forms.
  • Participate in acts of peaceful protest, including rallies, marches, and at times, even civil disobedience. Do not remain passive bystanders in the face of the heresies of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism.
  • Engage in political action to oppose structural racism.

We will bring the best of our traditions to an ecclesial and societal examination of conscience where rhetoric and acts of hatred against particular groups can be publicly named as grave sins and injustices.

Finally, as ethicists, we commit—through our teaching, writing, and service—to the ongoing, hard work of building bridges and restoring wholeness where racist and xenophobic ideologies have brought brokenness and pain.

(If you are a Christian ethicist or teach Christian ethics and wish to add your name, please email Tobias Winright at tobias.winright@slu.edu or Matthew Tapie at matthew.tapie@saintleo.edu or Anna Floerke Scheid at scheida@duq.edu or MT Dávila at mtdavila@ants.edu with your name, highest degree, title, and institution. Institutions are named for identification purposes only and this does not necessarily represent their support of this statement, although we hope they do, too.)

For a full updated list of signatories, please click here.

[Image: Nic Muller]

8 thoughts on “A Statement from Christian Ethicists Without Borders on White Supremacy and Racism

  1. I’m a minister (in the United Reformed Church, UK), ergo I teach Christian ethics, right? Not in the academic sense of the word “teach” (though — big deal — I’ve written a book published by Carolina Academic Press), but in the much more important sense of hands-on congregational moral formation. So might someone pretty-please sandwich in my name between the last E and the first F in the list of signatories?
    Thank you kindly.

    Like

  2. Thanks, Jason. The tone of my comment was no doubt cheeky (if not impertinent!), but the intent was serious.
    Upshot: I’ve just sent an email for inclusion among the signatories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. @Jason: Not in quite a while (a year or so). As you can see from Paddling, I’ve covered most of the loci. Now it takes a burning issue to focus my attention and a moment of inspiration (my last two hymns were on immigration and ecology). Who knows, maybe Trump will inspire one about the devil!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s hard not to agree with almost everything this document says, especially about racism, the God-given dignity of all human beings, and our being one human family (said so much better by Francis, though!). Most of it is important to say–again and again and again, even at the risk of excessive public virtue signaling in highly contemporary left political-ethical-American idiom.

    It is at times hard, though, to understand what is being said. What is anti-Muslim ideology? Does it include critical stances taken by ex-Muslims against some forms of Islam? Does opposing anti-Muslim ideology go so far as publically attacking these ex-Muslims–as instanced by the Southern Poverty Law Center? Is “Evangelicalism” anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic? Many would say so. Do these ethicists?

    And what kind of “nationalism” is the target here? What part of the “America first” idea is objectionable? Are U.S. trade agreements supposed to have the well-being of Americans as a central concern or is that something that should be subordinated to the judgment of international agencies? What about employment? What about defense? Which international agencies have the approval of God?

    Finally, I know that loving one’s enemies and feeding them and giving them something to drink and blessing those that curse you are all out of fashion in contemporary political ethics, especially among contemporary political activists, but it would be reassuring to hear these same ethicists address the social and economic and cultural and drug-soaked conditions that help to produce the racism and hatred (and decline in life-expectancy) that we are seeing in parts of the United States.

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