August 23, 2017The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church supports the national movement to remove all symbols and monuments to white supremacy. The purpose of these symbols is to celebrate white power and its ability to keep "minorities" fearful, passive and powerless.
These monuments may have a place in a museum of Confederate or Southern History, where they can be put in factual historical context. These monuments have no place in a nation made up of immigrants from ethnic groups from every populated continent. People should be judged by the "content of their character" not their skin color or ethnicity.
We celebrate all pastors and community activists who are already leading in this effort and taking strong visible stands against these symbols of white supremacy.
We celebrate Duke University for voting to taking down a monument on their campus to Robert E. Lee.
We celebrate Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Maryland and the courageous political leadership in Birmingham, Alabama and Lexington, Kentucky for their strong political action.
The Council of Bishops will be vigilant in monitoring the uptick of white supremacy activity, supporting all steps to protect civil and human rights, engaging with coalitions of faith based/civil rights groups, and educating the communities we serve regarding the urgent need to find solutions to racism
The Council of Bishops encourages all of our churches, pastors, ministers, chaplains, lay people, missionaries and young people to write letters/emails to the President of the United States, their U.S. Senators, Congress people and designated local officials supporting the removal of all these reminders of past white spiritual, political and economic dominion.
We encourage our pastors to share this communiqué with their members in worship and with community leaders in public forums as soon as possible. #RighteousResistance! #TheyMustComeDown! #IAmAME!
Bishop Clement W. Fugh, President, Council of Bishops
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Secretary, Council of Bishops
Bishop Vashit M. McKenzie, President, General Board
Bishop McKinley Young, Senior Bishop
NCC Condemns “Unite the Right”August 14, 2017 Steven Martin
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA condemns, in the strongest terms, the “Unite the Right” gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12th. We deplore the ideology behind it and the hatred manifest in it. White supremacy must find no sanction or shelter in America today.
We grieve for the lives needlessly lost. Heather Heyer, 32, died in what we believe has been appropriately named a terrorist act by Attorney General Sessions. She died as a witness to love and justice for all. We grieve for the two officers in the Virginia State Police, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, and pray for their families.
We also give thanks for the moral witness given by concerned people of faith, including clergy, who came to Charlottesville to stand as a barrier before those gathered in the cause of white supremacy. We are grateful for the leadership offered by Rev. Brittany Caine-Conley, Rev. Seth Wispelwey, Congregate C’ville (a group instrumental in the organizing of the counter-protest), and dozens of others who spent countless hours preparing for this now-infamous day. Their courage and faith in the face of hate is an inspiration to all of us.
And finally, we call upon our government and church leaders to strongly, and in no uncertain terms, denounce racism and white supremacy We call upon President Trump to prove his commitment to this cause by dismissing cabinet officials and staff members with known links to racist, Alt-Right, neo-fascist, or otherwise hateful groups.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Amos 5:24, NRSV
Words from the Bishop—“Good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate.”
Once again racism has raised its ugly head in America, even overshadowing the threat of nuclear annihilation for a bit. Racism is not a new phenomenon—it is as old as sin. As we delve more deeply into the Doctrine of Discovery (which we formally repudiated as a Synod and at the Churchwide Assembly in 2016), we see that there is racism embedded into the European colonization of the Americas, racism embedded into our Indian policy, racism embedded into our history of slavery, racism embedded into our immigration policies.
Last winter, a particularly virulent strain of racism appeared in, of all places, Whitefish, Montana. A high profile White Supremacist with a political group behind him became the center of a controversy in the Flathead that included anti-Semitism. Religious groups, including our ELCA congregations, responded appropriately, condemning White Supremacy, anti-semitism, and all forms of racism as antithetical not only to common human decency, but to the Christian faith.
In the 1990s, the Montana Association of Churches (MAC) adopted a Declaration on the Distortions of the Gospel. Hate groups were claiming that their racist and violent theories and practices were a true interpretation of the Gospel. MAC took that on, and repudiated any connection between racism and hatred espoused by these groups and the Gospel. Eight mainline Christian denominations signed on—American Baptist, Christian Church Disciples of Christ, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA ( Glacier and Yellowstone) Roman Catholic (Helena and Great Falls/Billings),United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church. Other Christians, from across the spectrum, asked to sign on as well. There was consensus that any attempt to justify bigotry by using religious language was simply wrong, misguided, even evil.
That was a quarter century ago, before the internet was a near constant part of nearly everyone’s lives, providing information and misinformation indiscriminately. Today’s hate groups spread demonize people of color, people of “other” faiths (especially Muslim), immigrants and more.
That widespread hatred was what was highlighted in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, in the White Supremacist rally. People of faith—of all faiths—including ELCA Lutherans—were there to stand against bigotry, to stand against hate.
I have read many of your Facebook posts this week, lamenting what was going on in Charlottesville, and looking for ways to move forward. Confession is always good for the soul. Examining ways that we as individuals and we as a primarily white church benefit from White Privilege might be a start. The key is not getting defensive. We have had to do that as a Synod as we have taken our Apology to tribal councils.
When I was growing up in the 1960’s north of the Mason Dixon line, I thought racism was something that happened in the South. And then I saw the violence in Boston in response to busing, and I thought it was an urban thing. I know now that it is a human thing, a thing we must repent, and work hard to overcome.
As I struggle with the implications of racism in America, I remember Bishop Desmond Tutu’s words: “Good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate.”
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Letters & Publications from Faith Leaders Across the State & Region that coincide with MAC's Mission & Work.