Fifty-five faith leaders invoked the memory of martyred Hitler opponent Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a proclamation April 28 denouncing presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump directly promotes racial and religious bigotry, disrespects the dignity of women, harms civil public discourse, offends moral decency, and seeks to manipulate religion,” reads the statement, Called to Resist Bigotry — A Statement of Faithful Obedience. “This is no longer politics as usual, but rather a moral and theological crisis, and thus we are compelled to speak out as faith leaders.”
Signatories, including David Gushee of Mercer University, Shane Claiborne of Red Letter Christians, author Brian McLaren and Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, said Trump’s racial and religious demagoguery “presents a danger but also an opportunity — to publicly expose and resist the worst of American values.”
“By confronting a message so contrary to our Christian values, our religious voices can help provide a powerful way to put our true faith and our better American values forward in the midst of national moral confusion and crisis,” the statement said.
“There is understandable anger across the country,” the faith leaders said. “The failures of both Washington and Wall Street have created legitimate citizen anger and alienation across the political spectrum, and many of us are empathetic to the many people who feel marginalized and unheard by economic, political, and media elites that don’t serve their needs. Faith leaders and our communities need to reach out to all of those in marginalized communities — even across racial and ideological lines — to listen, learn and serve.
“But Donald Trump, a celebrity from the worlds of real estate and reality television, is manipulating this anger for his own political advantage — at the expense of the common good. Trump is shamelessly using racial resentment, fear, and hatred — always dangerously present in our society — to fuel a movement against ‘the other,’ targeting other races, women, cultures, ethnicities, nations, creeds and a whole global religion.”
The statement, which including an appendix clocks in at just under 4,800 words, ends with a Bonhoeffer quote: “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.”
“So we are called to speak and act, from pulpits and prayer groups across the nation, declaring our 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 faith leaders proclaimed. “We can use the opportunity of speaking clearly about what we are against, to demonstrate and lead by example on behalf of what we are for.
“We can do no other.”