To: An appeal to Christian Congregations Across the United States of America
Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy
In 1934 Christian pastors, theologians, and faith leaders crafted the Theological Declaration of Barmen in response to calls for German nationalism. The anti-Semitism and racial hatred present then was met by a strong rebuke by the German Evangelical Church gathered in Barmen. Not unlike the era of Nazism in Germany, the recent hesitation by the president of the United States in unequivocally condemning the clear exhibition of fascism and white nationalist sympathies in Charlottesville, as well as other long held manifestations of white supremacy such as white privilege and white normalcy, calls for a response from the Christian community.
Why is this important?
When the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia, decided to remove the Robert E. Lee memorial, a scourge of white supremacy, terrorism, and nationalism ignited that resulted in the violent death of Heather Heyer. 33 other people were beaten and injured. White nationalism and white supremacy are neither new nor rare in our time. Violent attempts to declare white male supremacy on U.S. soil date to before African captivity and the Pequot Massacre. While the abolitionist movement declared the right of all humanity to be free, since The Civil War there have been few occasions more significant to counter the religious and social mindsets that laid the foundations of white supremacy and to proclaim the right of all humanity to receive equal protection and provision of the law.
Thus, this declaration was inspired by the events in Charlottesville, but it was equally inspired by the events of Tulsa, OK — and Wounded Knee, and Manzanar, and Birmingham, and Delano, and Laramie, and Ferguson, and Oak Creek, and Standing Rock. Our task here is twofold–to acknowledge and repent of the Church’s complicity in perpetuating white male supremacy in all of its forms and to hear and to heed the call to return to the truth of Scripture, fully revealed in the person of Jesus.
In the Spirit of the Declaration of Barmen, as people of Christian faith today, please “Test the spirits to see if they are of God” and “If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience.”
Since ancient times, Christianity has lived in the intersection of conquest and religion. It was counterculture religion that set them on the right path. The church has always stumbled toward the promise of scripture. At times it has done well. Other times it has suffered under the weight of white nationalism. Our greatest hope is that as we aspire to grow into these Scriptures, we will reject the hatred and violence prevalent in this hour and work toward the renewal of the Church and society.
Read the Full Declaration Here: