The violence enacted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in recent days has been both tragic and troubling. Troubling, also, the relative silence, or weak half-hearted disapproval – as of a child with his hand in the cookie jar – from many leaders in religious and academic communities.
For those of us who are members of historically oppressed groups, it is distressing to think that when white Christians said “never again”, not all of them really meant it. And for those of us who have put time and energy into the study of ethics, it is absurd to see the false dichotomies proposed. “Both sides are wrong” – really? As though defenders of human dignity and advocates of social justice were somehow on a par with people who think that putting Jews into ovens was a fine idea?
As though this were mere “political difference”?
Thus, it comes as a relief to find that a group of Christian ethicists has issued a statement in condemnation of racism and white supremacy:
As followers of Jesus Christ and as Christian ethicists representing a range of denominations and schools of thought, we stand in resolute agreement in firmly condemning racist, anti-Semitic,and anti-Muslim, neo-Nazi ideology as a sin against God that divides the human family created in God’s image.
These are professional ethicists from diverse backgrounds, from both religious and secular academic institutions. Their statement should give us encouragement, especially at a time when it seems that too many in positions of both academic and political leadership are excusing themselves from serious moral responsibility in the public sphere. I invite you all to read the rest of their statment, and also to take note of the names of those who have signed, especially if you are a member of a vulnerable community on a university campus.
And, of course, I invite you to stand in solidarity with them, with us, with the entire body of Christ Crucified, in holding to these central tenets:
We reject racism and anti-Semitism, which are radical evils that Christianity must actively resist.
We reject the sinful white supremacy at the heart of the “Alt Right” movement as Christian heresy.
We reject the idolatrous notion of a national god. God cannot be reduced to “America’s god.”
We reject the “America First” doctrine, which is a pernicious and idolatrous error. It foolishly asks Americans to replace the worship of God with the worship of the nation, poisons both our religious traditions and virtuous American patriotism, and isolates this country from the community of nations. Such nationalism erodes our civic and religious life, and fuels xenophobic and racist attacks against immigrants and religious minorities, including our Jewish and Muslim neighbors.
We confess that all human beings possess God-given dignity and are members of one human family, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.
We proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ has social and political implications. Those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ, therefore, must publicly name evil, actively resist it, and demonstrate a world of harmony and justice in the midst of racial, religious and indeed all forms of human diversity.
Therefore, we call upon leaders of every Christian denomination, especially pastors, to condemn white supremacy, white nationalism, and racism.
Contemplate and respect the image of God imprinted on each human being.
Work across religious traditions to reflect on the ways we have been complicit in upholding and benefiting from the sins of racism and white supremacy.
Pray for the strength and courage to stand emphatically against racism, white supremacy, and nationalism in all its forms.
Participate in acts of peaceful protest, including rallies, marches, and at times, even civil disobedience. Do not remain passive bystanders in the face of the heresies of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism.
Engage in political action to oppose structural racism.
Pax et bonum