The International Bonhoeffer Society, a group dedicated to studying the life and writings of anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has joined the growing chorus of elected officials, scholars, and faith leaders calling for the removal of President Donald Trump.
“We call on Christians to band together with all persons of conscience and all institutions dedicated to truth and justice to fight for the preservation of democracy and seek justice for all human beings by holding accountable the leaders who have threatened American democratic foundations,” said the society’s English Language Section in a statement shared with Sojourners and later published on the society's website.
This is not the first time the group has weighed in on Trump’s presidency.
In a 2017 statement, the Bonhoeffer Society expressed concerns about the “rise of hateful and divisive rhetoric, violence, and distrust” caused by Trump’s election. Last year, the group publicly called for an end to Trump’s presidency after his impeachment.
“In both statements, we offered theological and ethical insight from Bonhoeffer on discerning responsible actions in times of crisis,” says the 2021 statement. “The threat posed to American democracy by this insurrection amplifies the need for immediate action.”
Founded in 1973, the Bonhoeffer Society brings together scholars and theologians who study the work of Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor who vocally criticized the Nazi regime before being executed in 1945. He was a member of the Confessing Church, a German Protestant movement that opposed Hitler’s attempt to make churches part of the Nazi power apparatus.
The society’s statement noted that the Christian nationalism Bonhoeffer opposed in Germany mirrors the powerful current of Christian nationalism in the U.S. that has helped bolster support for the president.
“On the day of the baptism of his godson, in May of 1944, Bonhoeffer speaks into a context much like our own, where the dominant church, consumed by the pursuit of its own power and preservation, has not only tolerated but supported authoritarian leadership,” the society wrote in this week's statement. “Bonhoeffer argues that given this troubling reality, Christians have lost their ability to proclaim a life-giving word to the world. Because ‘the words we used before must lose their power … we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings.’”
The Bonhoeffer Society’s English Language Section is led by president Jennifer M. McBride, associate dean and assistant professor at McCormick Theological Seminary, and vice president Lori Brandt Hale, chair of the department of religion and philosophy at Augsburg University.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. to include a link to the 2020 statement published on the International Bonhoeffer Society's website.