Progressive organization Christians for Social Action (CSA), formerly Evangelicals for Social Action, used the Lenten season to lament and condemn the “deadly union between patriarchy and racism” that American evangelicalism has led to, in the words of one speaker.
Co-sponsoring organizations of the event include Evangelicals for Justice, Freedom Road, and the Voices Project, and the vigil was held with the “support” of Red Letter Christians, Churches for Middle East Peace, and Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East. Representatives from across these organizations shared words during the livestream event, and the Rev. Leroy Barber of the Voices Project served as host.
Lisa Sharon Harper, founder and president of Freedom Road, expressed lament for America’s founding institutions, claiming that they instituted “all law as crafted to protect the exclusive rule of white men.”
Harper furthermore asserted that “white Christian nationalism is the spirit behind the recent anti-Asian mass shooting in Atlanta and the violence of the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.”
While some have criticized the gunman’s church and theological upbringing in the tragic Atlanta spa mass shootings, motives behind the Boulder shooting remain unknown. Despite the motives behind the Boulder tragedy, no publicly known evidence can be traced to Harper’s assertion.
Soong-Chan Rah, recently appointed the Robert Munger Professor of Evangelism at Fuller Seminary, insisted that lament is “the appropriate, and maybe the most important, antidote to white Christian nationalism.”
“We lament… because Christian nationalism has created an untenable situation for many people of color,” continued the professor.
“Today as we enter into this day of lament, let us take the posture of Jeremiah and move out of the way so that the voices of women of color, people of color, those hurt and disenfranchised, those voices may rise up,” Rah concluded.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute President the Rev. Rob Schenck, expressed lament because “there are times when you or I may not be guilty of a particular sin individually, but because of our complacency, our passivity, our accommodation in the face of collective, institutionalized sins, like racism and bigotry, we incur the guilt of those sins, and we need to repent collectively.”
Schenck spoke on a National Council of Churches panel last December, in which he insisted that evangelicals in the United States today are making the same error that the evangelical Church in Germany made in the 1920s and 1930s. This error is “to confuse the political with the religious or the spiritual,” according to Schenck.
The Rev. Winnie Varghese, a clergy member at New York’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street, conveyed lament over U.S. foreign policy and attitudes toward Israel.
“We pray for those of us living in countries whose foreign policy impacts the actions of governments in the Middle East,” she said. “We pray that we will resist the fears of being named anti-Semitic, naïve, or ignorant as we stand beside our Palestinian, Israel siblings working for peace.”
Mimi Haddad, president and CEO of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) International, stated, “As Christians and citizens of the most powerful nation in the history of nations, we have allowed an unholy alliance to form between the powerful. By coalescing political and sacred influence, we have sanctioned and fueled a deadly union between patriarchy and racism.”
Haddad further insisted that American Christians, particularly evangelicals, must “deeply lament that through our influence, we have exported patriarchy to communities around the world.”
Christians for Social Action’s Nikki Toyama-Szeto implicated American ideals and values in the foundations of Christian nationalism.
“We confess our temptation to consolidate power, to rely on ourselves and our American individualism, and instead we want to be people of peace, powered by the Holy Spirit,” she expressed.
A livestream of the one-hour vigil on lamenting white Christian nationalism can be found on Christians for Social Action’s Facebook page.