Last week, domestic terrorists forced their way into the US Capitol buildings, bearing not only arms, but Confederate flags, a noose and other symbols of white supremacy. Many of you have asked: What can we do? As Christians, our work for social and racial justice begins with clear-sightedness about what it is that we are dealing with and what God calls us to do.
The Black Lives Matter protests that spanned the globe last summer brought renewed visibility to a pervasive evil that thrives in silence and secrecy. We must acknowledge the explicit and implicit racism in these violent terrorist attacks. From our own Dean Malcolm Clemens Young or the Rev. Dr. Gennifer B. Brooks, from Joseph R. Biden, Jr. or Rep. Maxine Waters, leaders have broadly noted that if these terrorists had been black, Indigenous or other People of Color, law enforcement would have been swifter, bolder and more severe. We cannot suppress that truth and we cannot be silent.
However, the roots of the terrorist event at the US Capitol are not only in the endemic racism and white supremacy of our society. They also include the greed, deception and opportunism of the chief executive, as well as other elected officials who championed outright lies for their own gain; the social media and tech giants who were content to profit from these lies; and this nation’s glorification of violence and unholy comfort with unregulated access to weapons.
These engines of the violence last Wednesday in the nation’s capital have been justified, and in some cases promoted by a white, toxic and hateful perversion of Christianity.
The way of Jesus is none other than the way of life and peace. And so, as Christians, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the attacks and their motives. We condemn the false equivalency between domestic terrorists, and protestors demanding civil rights in addition to and police accountability. We condemn the use of Christian language and institutions to promote violence.
There is no religious justification for insurrection against the institutions of democracy or for threatening the lives of elected leaders. There is no religious sanction for violence against black and brown bodies, Jews and other religious minorities, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA people or any other human community.
In response, we express lament. We lament our own arrogance and intolerance. We lament our personal failures to confront the violence and racism of our own hearts, and the violence and racism that rears its ugliness daily. We lament our own church’s historic and current participation in structural violence and racism. And we acknowledge that this lament is not enough.
Furthermore, we join Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in praying these words from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address: “With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
May it be so.
The Rev. Heather Erickson, Director of Senior Ministry and Outreach
The Rev. Mary Carter Greene, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry
The Rev. Canon Jude Harmon, Canon for Innovative Ministries
The Very Rev. Peggy Patterson, Interim Executive Pastor
The Rev. Anna E. Rossi, Succentor
The Rev. Kristin Saylor, Director of Formation
The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, Dean