Breaking the Silence: Groundswell of Christian Evangelical Leaders Demand Trump Reject the Alt-Right
Perhaps no Americans have been more stained by their fellows’ support for the Racist In Chief, Donald Trump, than American evangelical Christians — a demographic widely credited with putting the shitgibbon over the top last November, and still today counted among his most passionately loyal base of see-no-evil supporters.
While sensible Americans of every (or no) belief have watched the rise of this movement of ‘godly’ pussy-grabbers in utter bewilderment, for too long evangelicals themselves have been silent, with but few notable exceptions (such as the redoubtable John Pavlovitz, blogger extraordinaire and teen minister at North Carolina’s North Raleigh Community Church).
But now, that wall of silence has begun to crack.
As the Raleigh News & Observer reports this morning:
Evangelicals say Trump should call alt-right by its real name: Evil
President Donald Trump needs to provide moral leadership and denounce the “demonic racist force” that is the alt-right before it further fractures the country, a group of evangelical leaders says.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, along with other conservative leaders from North Carolina and across the country have signed an open letter to the president stating that although he has denounced the KKK and neo-Nazis, and signed a joint resolution condemning white supremacy, he needs to go a step further.
The signatories of the just-issued Call For Unifying Leadership mince few words in their message to the President:
We love the United States of America. We have overcome much racial injustice, but we fear that without moral clarity and courageous leadership that consistently denounces all forms of racism, we may lose the ground that we have gained toward the racial unity for which so many of us have fought. Our nation remains divided racially and ideologically. We struggle to stand together to denounce racial inequality and injustice in our country.
Now, we respectfully call upon you to respond to the resolution by speaking out against the alt-right movement. This movement has escaped your disapproval. We believe it is important for this movement to be addressed, for at its core it is a white identity movement and the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists. This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.
More — much more — needs to be said and done by Christian evangelical leaders to oppose the evil that is the Trump administration, but this must be counted as a hopeful start.
By my count, only 44% of the Call’s original signatories are white evangelical leaders (the majority of signatories being African-Americans). But among those white leaders are some important and influential names, including the courageous Russell Moore, who as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is too often a voice in the wilderness of that large denomination. Importantly, Moore is joined here by Steve Gaines, the Southern Baptist Convention’s president. That’s huge, as controversy regarding support for or opposition to Trump is currently white-hot in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Now that the Call has been publicly released, dozens more signatures are flooding in as I write — the majority of those being pastors of evangelical churches across the South.
As a Tar Heel, I’m particularly proud to see white North Carolinians very well-represented among the signatories, including four faculty members of Wake Forest’s Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the pastor of the very large Summit Church here in Durham.
Certainly, the glass is still much less than half-full; grassroots evangelicals need to step up and echo their leadership’s call by the millions.
But the Good News is that the glass is no longer empty.