President Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol yesterday.
His supporters invaded and desecrated the Capitol building, threatening the lives of all Capitol Hill personnel and members of Congress. With Trump flags and Christian symbols, along with the Confederate flag, the violent mob forcefully attempted to stop the process of confirming the Electoral College vote. At Trump’s urging, this ceremonial event became the occasion for a violent attempted coup that turned the eyes of the world toward Washington. Thankfully due to the resilience and fortitude of many representatives, Congress was able to complete the certification and this attempted coup failed.
Trump led his followers to seditious violence against our democratic institutions based on his continual lies about the outcome of the presidential election. The underlying lie of all of Trump’s lies is that of white supremacy, which Trump has embraced since the beginning of his presidency. The violence we saw Wednesday — that cost at least four people their lives — is an outgrowth of that lie of white supremacy.
Over the past four years, Trump has radicalized many of his followers, calling them to violence in the name of racist white nationalism. Now, their objection to the rule of law and an increasingly multiracial democracy has placed our nation in moral peril. With America’s demons on display, many now more clearly see our original sin of racism and how it has been perpetuated and enabled by elected officials.
We are two weeks away from inaugurating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, with the outgoing president seeking to undermine the instruments of government on behalf of his own power and naked self-interest.
We draw two moral conclusions:
First, there must not be silence from people of faith in the face of violent sedition. In the name of the truth that Jesus says can set us free, and in the name of God who has created each of us in God’s own image, faith leaders across the country and across all of our religious traditions must condemn the violence of Trump’s followers and the sinful white racism that drove it.
Second, as faith leaders, we must call for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office. There is great danger in the hands of a morally deranged president: the threat of martial law, his ongoing efforts to overturn a free and fair election, the potential of politically conceived war, and the unique danger of his destructive hands on the nuclear codes.
We call for accountability for all those who engaged in storming the Capitol. No one is above the law and these insurrectionists must be identified, arrested, and prosecuted.
We demand a full inquiry into the security failure that allowed the Capitol building to be invaded despite warnings from many groups in advance.
We also call on Congress to hold Republican legislators who voted to overturn the election results to be held accountable for their own sedition, at the very least by censure and removal from future leadership positions.
Trump’s video statement yesterday, which YouTube removed, provided further evidence that he is fundamentally unfit to hold office and poses an ongoing existential threat to our democratic values and system. While we recognize removal will be politically challenging in light of Republican capitulation to Trump, these efforts are still important to further delegitimize a president who has refused to uphold his oath of office or the Constitution.
The next 13 days are perilous ones. The violent mob that desecrated the Capitol has been emboldened by President Trump’s calling them patriots, and they have gone largely unpunished. We believe we are at a turning point in which Christians and people of faith and conscience from all political persuasions must unite in prayer and action to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and commit ourselves to the hard but essential work of repair, healing, racial justice, and reconciliation. This will require a great deal of truth-telling and shared determination to root out a politics fueled by fear, lies, and conspiracy theories that undermine God’s truth.
More is at stake now than politics. Let’s call it a choice between theological integrity and the idolatry of white Christian nationalism in America.
Even with the inauguration of a new president and vice president on Jan. 20, it is imperative that all faith and civil leaders remain vigilant during Trump’s final weeks in office, particularly if he cannot be removed. It is a time for deep and fervent prayer for our nation, and faithful action must always follow prayer.