The churches we serve must grapple with the fact that evangelicalism plays a key role in advancing bigotry and anti-blackness. Whether within or outside of our worship spaces, our principles are corrupted by white-centeredness; while real reconciliation is made hopeless by our fear of addressing the same. Dr. Christina Edmondson says “repentance is resistance”, and the church should be the greatest example of turning away from wrongs that history and certain cultural practices have conditioned us to hide. The evangelical church must repent of making a home for white supremacist notions. In many evangelical churches, white normativity is the construct that governs social and spiritual life. Many people of color have known this for some time, but it is important to renew commitments to fight white supremacy in every era. Today, both evangelicalism and racism were clear factors in the most recent presidential election.
These connections, outlined in the research linked above, have implications on worshipping communities. In light of this, we joined a host of trusted voices responding to the 2016 presidential election. Here are a few calls to resistance we recommend:
Whether we continue to identify as evangelicals or reject the moniker, the political reputation of the word is something we must all grapple with. And we take our cues for action from the story of scripture, which constantly centers equality and justice.
Before the presidential election, we specifically denounced Donald Trump’s candidacy because of his history of persistent and unrepentant racism, sexism, misogyny, and hate. He also incited disdain for the mentally and physically disabled. (View this denouncement of Donald Trump’s particular brand of bigotry, signed by FFJ’s Director, Michelle Higgins, as well as Rev. Dr. Mike Higgins, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Rev. Jim Wallis, and many many other faith leaders.).
Our attitudes have not changed. Our responsibilities have not changed.
Our calling has not changed. We are called to resist the injustices of evil, indifference, deception, and division. We resist the evil heritage of this land out of respect for the lives of those displaced, despised and destroyed. We respect the office of POTUS by resisting the corruption that hinders its proper function. We will participate in God’s call to people of faith: to defend the cause of the needy and the marginalized, which includes dismantling any racial biases that corrupts sacred spaces. We will re-order the daily rhythms of our lives as inspired by the initial commitments that brought us together:
- Affirming and acting on the initiatives of the Forward Thru Ferguson report
- Continued education in the history of social justice movements and current sociopolitical affairs
- The practice of truth-telling in pursuing public justice specific to the St. Louis region, and that of this nation.
Above all, we denounce the idea that liberation struggles are only for people who do not believe that King Jesus is on the throne. This is not about manipulating the phrase “Jesus is on the throne” to silence calls to action. This is about resisting evil empires because Jesus is on the throne.
A joint statement from our partners in the STL Community
Resistance is hard. “Living sacrificially” sounds pretty, but it means giving up many of the things that make us comfortable. It means giving up some of the things we’ve been conditioned to cling to for self-worth, and even cultural identity. Resistance is hard. That is why we do it together.
Here is the statement we signed after the election in November.
This fight is not a new one. One year ago, our organizations came together to fight for justice in our region by calling for accountability to the recommendations outlined in the Forward Through Ferguson report that serves as a roadmap toward racial equity. We recognize that now is the time to renew our commitment to this fight. We recognize our responsibility to ensure that hate does not have a chance to bloom.
The change we seek can only be achieved by building people power from the bottom up. If you are looking for ways to get involved in this work, you can start by reaching out to one or more of the organizations listed below. There are many ways to plug in, and we welcome new energy and participation.