“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Invoking the call of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, more than 50 faith leaders from across the political spectrum joined together today to speak out on the current state and alarming rhetoric of the 2016 election cycle, which they say, “threaten[s] the fundamental integrity of Christian faith and the well-being of society itself.”
The statement, “Called to Resist Bigotry — A Statement of Faithful Obedience,” names the racial and religious bigotry of Donald Trump and his disrespect of women as gospel issues, and not merely political matters, saying: “… while Donald Trump certainly did not start these long-standing American racial sins, he is bringing our nation’s worst instincts to the political surface, making overt what is often covert, explicit what is often implicit."
Racial tensions have indeed undergirded this campaign season, with Trump and other candidates launching attacks on Mexicans and other immigrants, calling to refuse admittance to all Muslims entering the country, and many other examples of singling out people based on race, religion, or gender. The faith leaders, speaking on behalf of themselves and not their organizations, call for “confessional resistance” to alarming disrespect for racial minorities and women. Many express a pastoral concern for the fear in the country and even within their own congregations that has been caused by such racial rhetoric.
“This is not merely an electoral debate in which Christians hold legitimately differing policy views from one another. Rather, it is a public test of Christian truth and discipleship,” the statement reads. It ends by pledging “refusal to cooperate, in word and deed, against actions of intolerance and hate, not as a political group or partisan voice but as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The statement is signed by a wide swath of faith leaders including Sojourners President Jim Wallis; Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network; David Neff, retired editor-in-chief of Christianity Today; Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Rev. Carlos Malave, executive director of Christian Churches Together; and Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International.