Fifty Christian leaders from across the nation called on congregations to stick up for the rights of all people in light of “threatening, authoritarian messages” accompanying the recent election of Donald Trump.
“If such talk is not opposed, we open the way to more radical attacks on human rights and democratic processes here in the U.S.,” the faith leaders said. “And we can expect even more reliance on military threats and force abroad.”
A Public Call to Protect All People, released Jan. 10, said the 2016 presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “have added to the anger, fear and misunderstanding already present in our communities.”
The faith leaders referred both to “inflammatory and blaming language used by Donald Trump regarding Muslims, Mexican immigrants and women” and remarks by Clinton describing Trump supporters as “deplorables.”
The Rev. C.T. Vivian, a member of the originating committee and one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, said he sees parallels between today and the time 60 years ago when he first stepped into the public arena as a colleague of Martin Luther King.
“Now as then we have this popular groundswell seeking greater equity and opportunity,” said Vivian, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. “Now as then we have forces of reaction determined to smother reform. Now as then we need the wisdom and moral authority of people of faith in the public arena, protecting and supporting the worth and rights of all people.”
The Call to Protect All People challenges congregations to make four public commitments:
• Protect and support all people, including those “targeted, discriminated against or singled out for state-sponsored/sanctioned violence.”
• Support “practices of diplomacy and negotiation” in the carrying out of U.S. foreign policy.
• Support an economic order that “is sustainable as a servant of the people amid changes in climate.”
• Seek new “relationships of solidarity” locally that “reach across lines of creed, class, ethnicity, race and party preference.”
Signers of the statement include Amy Butler, senior pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, former president and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and LeDayne McLeese Polaski, executive director of Baptist Peace Fellowship/Bautistas por la Paz.
Other signers include Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, co-founders of Red Letter Christians; Ronald Sider, president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action; and Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners.
An accompanying implementation guide for local congregations and assemblies includes ideas on how congregations can respond.