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​Like many Americans, we are grieved by recent events in Charlottesville. The white supremacist rally there showed that overt racism is alive and well in America, and that it can turn violent and murderous. As Christian scholars of American history, politics, and law, we condemn white supremacy and encourage frank dialogue about racism today.

​As Americans, we love our country. As Christians, we know that no individual, people, or nation is perfect. Among the most grievous sins committed by early Americans was the enslavement of and trafficking in Africans and African Americans. Slavery was formally abolished in 1865, but racism was not. Indeed, it was often institutionalized and in some ways heightened over time through Jim Crow legislation, de facto segregation, structural inequalities, and pervasively racist attitudes. And other persons of color, including Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans, have often been subjected to official and unofficial discrimination. What we have seen in Charlottesville makes it clear once again that racism is not a thing of the past, something that brothers and sisters of color have been trying to tell the white church for years.

​Racism should be denounced by religious and civic leaders in no uncertain terms. Equivocal talk about racist groups gives those groups sanction, something no politician or pastor should ever do. As Christian scholars, we affirm the reality that all humans are created in the image of God and should be treated with respect and dignity. There is no good moral, biblical, or theological reason to denigrate others on the basis of race or ethnicity, to exalt one race over others, or to countenance those who do.

​Even as we condemn racism, we recognize that the First Amendment legally protects even very offensive speech. Rather than trying to silence those with whom we disagree, or to meet violence with more violence, we encourage our fellow citizens to respond to groups like the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan with peaceful counter-protests. (Indeed, this has been the approach of the vast majority of counter-protesters in recent weeks.) No one is beyond redemption, so we encourage our fellow believers to pray that members of these groups will find the truth, and that the truth will set them free.

We also recognize that white-majority churches and denominations have too often lagged in discussions of racial injustice and inequality, or have even been sources of the perpetuation of white cultural dominance and racial injustice. Because of that history, we pray that America's churches and Christians will renew their commitment to practical, proactive steps of racial reconciliation and friendship in our cities and towns.


Mark David Hall, George Fox University

Thomas S. Kidd, Baylor University

We, the undersigned, are Christian scholars of American history, politics, and law who endorse this letter. Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Carl Abrams, Bob Jones University
Daniel L. Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Frank S. Alexander, Emory Law School
Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Regent University School of Divinity
Noemi Hernandez Alexander, California Baptist University
Scott Althaus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Douglas Firth Anderson, Northwestern College (Iowa)
Edwin David Aponte, Louisville Institute
Barbara E. Armacost, University of Virginia School of Law
Brent J. Aucoin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Bryan Bademan, Anselm House
Jeff Baker, Pepperdine University School of Law
Hunter Baker, Union University
Thomas E Baker, Florida International University College of Law
Richard A. Bailey, Canisius College
Kedron Bardwell, Simpson College
Beth Allison Barr, Baylor University
Steve Barracca, Eastern Kentucky University
Scott Barton, East Central University
Keith Bates, Union University
Alan Bearman, Washburn University
Michael Beaty, Baylor University
E. Calvin Beisner, The Cornwall Alliance
Al Beck, Baylor University
David Beer, Malone University
Daniel Bennett, John Brown University
Thomas C. Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Jeffrey Bilbro, Spring Arbor University
Robin Marshall Bittick, Sam Houston State University
Amy E. Black, Wheaton College
G. Robert Blakey, Notre Dame Law School
Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University
Bradley J. Birzer, Hillsdale College
Josh Bowman, Louisiana State University
Andrew Bramsen, Bethel University
Jeffrey A. Brauch, Regent University School of Law
William S. Brewbaker III, University of Alabama
Margaret Brinig, Notre Dame Law School
Matthew S. Brogdon, University of Texas at San Antonio
Thomas E. Buckley, Santa Clara University
Greg W. Burch, Multnomah University
Jared Burkholder, Grace College
Sean R. Busick, Athens State University
James P. Byrd, Vanderbilt University
Anthony T. Caito, Corban University
Samuel W. Calhoun, Washington and Lee School of Law
Charles B. Campbell, Faulkner University School of Law
Joel A. Carpenter, Calvin College
Heath W. Carter, Valparaiso University
Jay R. Case, Malone University
Joseph Castleberry, Northwest University
Ben Cater, Point Loma Nazarene University
Amy L. Cavender, Saint Mary’s College
Colin Chapell, University of Memphis
Clifton R. Clarke, Fuller Theological Seminary
Justin Clardie, Northwest Nazarene University.
Robert F. Cochran, Jr., Pepperdine University School of Law
Elesha Coffman, Baylor University
Kimberly H. Conger, University of Cincinnati
Patrick L. Connelly, Mississippi College
William R Cook, SUNY Geneseo
Tom Copeland, Colorado Christian University
Mark W. Cordes, Northern Illinois University College of Law
Jesse Covington, Westmont College
John C. Craft, Faulkner University School of Law
Sue E. S. Crawford, Creighton University
Carol Ann Vaughn Cross, Samford University
K. Scott Culpepper, Dordt College
John A. D'Elia, New Theological Seminary of the West
Michelle D. Deardorff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Michael J. DeBoer, Faulkner University School of Law
Jonathan Den Hartog, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, MN
Patrick J. Deneen, University of Notre Dame
Kevin den Dulk, Calvin College
David L. Dillman, Abilene Christian University
John M. A. DiPippa, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law
Janine Giordano Drake, University of Providence
Sarah E. Doherty, North Park University
Seth Dowland, Pacific Lutheran University
Daniel Dreisbach, American University
Michael Duduit, Clamp Divinity School, Anderson University
W. Cole Durham, Jr., J. Reuben Clark Law School
Martha Eads, Eastern Mennonite University
Eduardo J. Echeverria, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Ruth M. Ediger, Seattle Pacific University
Mark Edwards, Spring Arbor College
Robert Elder, Valparaiso University
William Curtis Ellis, Oral Roberts University
Priscilla Eppinger, American Baptist Historical Society
Carl H. Esbeck, University of Missouri School of Law
John C. Evans, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Sean F. Evans, Union University
John Fea, Messiah College
Peter Feaver, Duke University
David Lewis Feldman, University of California, Irvine
Joel S. Fetzer, Pepperdine University
Nathan A. Finn, Union University
Kahlib J. Fischer, Liberty University
Richard R. Follett, Covenant College
Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute
Brian Franklin, Southern Methodist University
Beverly A. Gaddy, University of Pittsburgh
Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Valparaiso University School of Law
Collin Garbarino, Houston Baptist University
John C. Gardner, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Richard W. Garnett, Notre Dame Law School
Brantley Gasaway, Bucknell University
Christopher Gehrz, Bethel University
Loramy Gerstbauer, Gustavus Adolphus College
Troy Gibson, University of Southern Mississippi
Naomi Harlin Goodno, Pepperdine University School of Law
Christopher Graham, American Civil War Museum
Christopher R. Green, University of Mississippi School of Law
Gene L. Green, Wheaton College
Jay Green, Covenant College
R. Kent Greenawalt, Columbia Law School
Kevin E. Grimm, Regent University
John G. Grove, Lincoln Memorial University
Mark Gstohl, Xavier University of Louisiana
Darren Guerra, Biola University
Frank Guliuzza, Patrick Henry College
James L. Guth, Furman University
Mel Hailey, Abilene Christian University
Timothy D. Hall, Samford University
Barry Hankins, Baylor University
Matt Harper, Mercer University
Wm. Scott Harrop, University of Virginia
Rusty Hawkins, Indiana Wesleyan University
Merrill M. Hawkins, Jr., Carson-Newman University
John W. Hawthorne, Spring Arbor University
Susan Turner Haynes, Lipscomb University
Gail L. Helt, King University
Megan Hershey, Whitworth University
Allen D. Hertzke, University of Oklahoma
Nicholas Higgins, Regent University
Joshua P. Hochschild, Mount St. Mary's University
Dennis R. Hoover, The Review of Faith & International Affairs
Lia C. Howard, Saint Joseph’s University
Brian M. Howell, Wheaton College
Douglas R. Hume, Azusa Pacific University
William Inboden, University of Texas at Austin
Charles A. Israel, Auburn University
Bradley P. Jacob, Regent University School of Law
Aaron Jerviss, Johnson University-Tennessee
Thomas Jones, Taylor University
John C. Knechtle, University of the West Indies
Stephen S. Knott, United States Naval War College
Kate E. Knutson, Gustavus Adolphus College.
Sue Hulett, Knox College
Andrew Kaufmann, Northwest University
Kenneth Keathley, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lyman Kellstedt, Wheaton College
Rick Kennedy, Point Loma Nazarene University
Michael Kensak, Northwestern College
Bret Kincaid, Fresno Pacific University
Stephen M. King, Regent University
Rick Kirgis, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Tom Knecht, Westmont College
Joseph M. Knippenberg, Oglethorpe University
Jennifer Lee Koh, Western State College of Law
Douglas L. Koopman, Calvin College
David E. Lambert, Azusa Pacific University
Richard Land, Southern Evangelical Seminary
Rachel C. Larson, North Greenville University
Robin M. Lauermann, Messiah College
Robin M. LeBlanc, Washington and Lee University
Louis F. Lobenhofer, Pettit College of Law Ohio Northern University
Brad Lockerbie, East Carolina University
Karen A. Longman, Azusa Pacific University
Bradford Mank, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Paul Matzko, Baylor University
George Marsden, University of Notre Dame
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma
Robert L. McFarland, Faulkner University School of Law
Michael McKoy, Wheaton College.
Gerald R McDermott, Beeson Divinity School
Michael B. McDuffee, Moody Bible Institute
Bryan T. McGraw, Wheaton College
Ryan McIlhenny, Geneva College Shanghai
Tracy McKenzie, Wheaton College
Kelly F. McTear, Faulkner University School of Law
Martin J. Medhurst, Baylor University
Robert J. Mayer, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, Gordon College
Allen Mendenhall, Faulkner University, Jones School of Law
Linda Meyer, Quinnipiac University School of Law
Heidi Michelsen, Praxis Center of Costa Rica
Ron Miller, Liberty University
C. Ben Mitchell, Union University
Christopher D. Moore, Bethel University
Lucas Morel, Washington and Lee University
Chris Morgan, California Baptist University
Elyce C. Morris, Faulkner University Jones School of Law
Max Perry Mueller, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln A. Mullen, George Mason University
Miles S. Mullin II, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Stephen R. Munzer, University of California, Los Angeles
Napp Nazworth, The Christian Post
Brent F. Nelsen, Furman University
Leonard J. Nelson,III, Samford University
Mark T. Nelson, Westmont College
Joel A. Nichols, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Jeremy Norwood, Spring Arbor University
John E. Noyes, California Western School of Law
Andy G. Olree, Faulkner University School of Law
David Onyon, Southwestern Assemblies of God University
David W. Opderbeck, Seton Hall University Law School
Paul Otto, George Fox University
Randall Pannell, North Greenville University
M. Sydney Park, Beeson Divinity School
James M. Patterson, Ave Maria University
Mikael L. Pelz, Calvin College
Samuel L. Perry, University of Oklahoma
Jonathan R. Peterson, North Park University
Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame
Otis W. Pickett, Mississippi College
John J. Pitney, Jr., Claremont McKenna College
Jeanne Petit, Hope College
Jeffrey Polet, Hope College
Richard Pointer, Westmont College
Trisha Posey, John Brown University
Kris Pratt, Spartanburg Methodist College
C. Scott Pryor, Campbell University School of Law
Jason Marc Pudlo, Oral Roberts University
Kevin Pybas, Missouri State University
Mark Regnerus, University of Texas at Austin
Charles J. Reid, Jr., University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
John C. Reitz, University of Iowa College of Law
Gloria Rhodes, Eastern Mennonite University
Gary E. Roberts, Regent University
Jessica Roseberry, Baylor University
Steven Alan Samson, Liberty University
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, G.L.O.B.A.L Justice
Dennis Sansom, Samford University
Shelley Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University School of Law
Jon D. Schaff, Northern State University
Stephen A. Shumaker, Colorado Christian University
William Skiles, Regent University
Brenda Thompson Schoolfield, Bob Jones University
John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University
Robert F. Schwarzwalder, Jr., Regent University
Timothy Samuel Shah, Georgetown University
Jacob Shatzer, Union University
Stephen Shaw, Northwest Nazarene University
Gregory Sisk, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin College
Brian A. Smith, Montclair State University
Gary Scott Smith, Grove City College
Sarah A. Morgan Smith, The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University
Stephen F. Smith, Notre Dame Law School
Chris Soper, Pepperdine University
Miles Smith, Regent University
Andrew Spiropoulos, Oklahoma City University School of Law
Susan J. Stabile, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Stephen T. Staggs, Calvin College
Richard Stith, Valparaiso University Law School
Stephen M. Stookey, Wayland Baptist University
Charles Strauss, Mount St Mary’s University
Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Justin Taylor, Crossway Books
Boz Tchividjian, Liberty University School Law
H. Paul Thompson, Jr., North Greenville University
Warren Throckmorton, Grove City College
Benjamin Toll, Lake Superior State University
Noah J. Toly, Wheaton College
Christa B. Tooley, Wheaton College
David Torbett, Marietta College
Ted Turnau, Anglo-American University, Prague, Czech Republic
John Turner, George Mason University
Andrea L. Turpin, Baylor University
Fred Van Geest, Bethel University
Patrick Van Inwegen, Whitworth University
Ashish Varma, Moody Bible Institute
Caleb Verbois, Grove City College
John R. Vile, Middle Tennessee State University
Danielle Vinson, Furman University
Robert K. Vischer, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Hans P. Vought, SUNY-Ulster
Jeffrey C. Waddington, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Scott A. Waller, Biola University
Jennifer E. Walsh, Azusa Pacific University
Jerold Waltman, Baylor University
Micah Watson, Calvin College
William C. Watson, Colorado Christian University
Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt, Covenant College
Eddie Weller, San Jacinto College
Geoff Wells, Wayland Baptist University
Thomas White, Cedarville University
Virgil Wiebe, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Peter W. Wielhouwer, Western Michigan University
John Wigger, University of Missouri
Jeffrey A. Wilcox, Bethel University (TN)
Daniel K. Williams, University of West Georgia
Thaddeus Williams, Talbot School of Theology
Robert D. Woodberry, Baylor University
James E. Wren, Baylor Law School
George Yancey, University of North Texas
Paul D. Yandle, North Greenville University
Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
John C. Yoder, Whitworth University
Dan Young, Northwestern College (Iowa)

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24 thoughts on “An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America Today”

  1. Trey Harris says:

    I would add a paragraph outlining the repentance needed by the church in regards to ignoring and perhaps even promoting racism by lack of resistance to, by turning a blind eye towards or even participating in racism.

  2. Laura Lemley says:

    I wish the statement had addressed the very public Anti-Semitism evident in these groups as well.

    1. John van Doodewaard says:

      It is not the task of the church to make statements regarding politics. It is however, the duty and responsibility of individual Christian believers to speak out against injustice and discrimination. We must be very careful, not to lend support to left-wing groups who supposedly are defending the disadvantaged in society. All they have in mind is to divide and conquer, so as to establish a socialist/communist state in America and Canada. The world has already suffered enough from communism 290 million dead and counting. We must be very careful not to exchange the one evil for a much worse evil.

  3. Conrad Deitrick says:

    I wish this went much further. The Charlottesville Declaration is much closer to the statement that needs to be made. Can you affirm it as well?

  4. PC says:

    I’m a little surprised that the Gospel Coalition posted this letter. If you go down the road of fighting against inequality and discrimination you have to address the teachings coming from the Gospel Coalition that try to say there’s equality and equal value between men and women in a complimentary/patriarchal establishment. It’s kind of like saying – “we structure our society to separate black and white folks, but believe me, they’re equal in value in our eyes.” Practically, it creates first class citizens and second class citizens and everyone’s suppose to pretend they’re of equal value and privilege when they’re obviously not. And those on top, with the power, dominate and oppress the other group. So while it’s popular to be against overt hate groups, maybe it’s time to look at your own religious establishment and the way it systematically and covertly discriminates against those that aren’t white males that think like yourselves.

    1. Lori says:

      Your argument would be like saying that, because schools can’t have a black sports team and a white sports team, they also can’t have separate sports teams for men and women.

      White and black people are equal. Women and men are equal. However, there are fundamental, biological differences between men and women that simply do not exist between the races, that even secular anti-discrimination legislation recognizes.

  5. James says:

    Thank you for standing up against white supremacy!

  6. Tracy says:

    I would like to see evangelical pastors aren’t just writing generic statements, but are paying specific attention to changes that proceeded Charlottesville. For example, Jeff Sessions announced plans to sue colleges for their affirmative action plans. And in May Trump slashed $10 million dollars from programs that addressed radical white supremacy movements. Former white supremacist Chuck Leek, with Life After Hate – one of the organisations that was due to receive government funding – warned at the time that white supremacy in the US was becoming more active.

    The Trump administration was pushing to downplay the threat of white extremism by erasing neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the US government’s counter-extremism program and moving it to focus exclusively on Islamist terrorism. Trump has been pushing to rename the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism”. The reclassification would remove its work combatting far-right attacks and mass shootings, like the massacre of black churchgoers in Charleston. And where were these pastors when Steve Bannon was sitting in the White House, when Breitbart under his leadership was famous for headlines like ‘Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage’ or ‘Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew’,” and featured a “Black Crime” section. The evangelical pastors around me seemed not to want to know about any of this, thought it was all in plain sight, lest they be responsible for where all this may be headed.

    1. Thomas S. Kidd says:

      The signees are not pastors.

      1. Tracy says:

        My mistake. I should have said “Christian scholars.” But I repeat my concern, that until their is specificity, these statements read like hot air balloons that float above real issues. The pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for instance. If they are going to condemn racism, they need to be very clear who that man is, what he is done, and what is wrong with whitewashing his behavior by granting him a pardon for his “years of service.”

  7. Dean Bailey says:

    While I can applaud the apparent intent of this “open letter,” I find it hypocritical in that our Lord instructed us to remove the plank from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from someone elses!

    What I am saying is this: Dunday mornings in America, all across our Nation, remain one of the most vividly portrayed examples of self-willing racial-segregation, anywhere in our entire world, as a compared reflection of the nation of diverse people that we are, racially. And these racially segregated congregations are black ones, white ones, hispanic ones, asian ones, and the list goes on and on and on!

    Before such an “open letter” can be well received, perhaps it’s time that “believers” in America unsegregated themselves, FIRST!

    Many evangelical congregations already have, praise be to God!

  8. Joe M says:

    “We are not racists!” Who are you so eager to convince, since no one I know thinks racism is remotely ok. Do you think GC churches have A bunch of closet Nazis or something? The pa serif after public approval grows old.

  9. Cedric says:

    “Racism should be denounced by religious and civic leaders in no uncertain terms. Equivocal talk about racist groups gives those groups sanction, something no politician or pastor should ever do.”

    This is a great letter, but if you want “no uncertain terms”, then what is missing is a sentence with the the words “Trump” or “Our president and his enablers”.

  10. Ken says:

    I agree the church should speak out against racism. I have done so on many occasions, and will continue to do so. At the same time, I also think we should exercise care in what we label as racism. It’s my considered opinion that we use that label entirely too loosely these days. Obviously, anyone who promotes white supremacy is a racist, but is a person racist simply because he dislikes former President Obama or disagrees with his policies? Is a person to be labeled racist if he disagrees with the removal of Confederate monuments? We should speak out against racism, but we should not encourage slander.

  11. This “Open Letter” is profoundly disappointing for me because I find myself agreeing more about these issues with a secular Jew (David Horowitz) and a religious Jew (Dennis Prager) than many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I heard Prager on his radio show not too long ago say that America is the least racist society in the history of the world, and I instinctively agreed with him because it’s true. This letter uncritically accepts the assumptions of the secular progressive left, which doesn’t surprise me because all the signatories come from academia where the secular progressive left dominates. Even many at Christian colleges have swallowed the assumptions uncritically. I’ve even read these same sentiments at Christianity Today, and heard them espoused at a church I used to attend, so it goes well beyond academia.

    I will simply quote Horowitz who can express himself so much better than I can, and encourage those who think there could possibly be another way to view these things to read his latest piece:

    Recent events have turned out crowds in the tens of thousands denouncing “neo-Nazis” and “white supremacists” both real and imagined, who number in the hundreds, if that. Yet the outpouring of righteous rage in a veritable orgy of virtue signaling has extended across both ends of the political spectrum, as though Nazism hadn’t been defeated more than seventy years ago, or racial discrimination outlawed for sixty. The ranks of actual neo-Nazis and white supremacists are so minuscule that besides the universally despised David Duke and Richard Spencer there are no figures on this “alt-right” that even informed observers could actually name.

    [O]ne has to understand them [“white supremacy and “white nationalism”] as expressions of an ideology that has emerged out of its university incubators to become a dogma of the Democratic Party and progressives generally. This radical perspective, known as “cultural Marxism,” divides society into a white majority that oppresses, and “people of color” who are oppressed, attributing all racial and ethnic disparities to “racism.”

    The reality that the academic theory of faculty leftists tries futilely to deny is that America is the least racist most tolerant multi-ethnic, multi-racial society in the history of the world. America has outlawed racial supremacies of any kind.

  12. A decent statement but with some inaccuracies:

    “(Indeed, this has been the approach of the vast majority of counter-protesters in recent weeks.)”

    The scholars clearly haven’t watched the news. The antifa protesters have been very violent. They should check out the 20/20 TV show’s episode on both that aired last week.

    “We also recognize that white-majority churches and denominations have too often lagged in discussions of racial injustice and inequality, or have even been sources of the perpetuation of white cultural dominance and racial injustice. ”

    That’s simply not true. The scholars clearly don’t know the history of the white Church in eliminating slavery and fighting for civil rights. Maybe white churches haven’t made racism their primary target, but there are good reasons for that. 1) Political parties and others have made racism their sole focus. 2) the US has made enormous strides toward eliminating institutional racism in the past 50 years. 3) Christians are concerned about more than racism, especially abortion and evangelism. No other group is carrying the banner against abortion. 4) Real evangelicals understand that it’s impossible to rid humanity of racism. No matter how much progress we make, there will always be racists because it’s part of sinful human nature. There is no need to preach to Christians about racism. That would be preaching to the choir. No real Christians are racists. Preaching to non-Christians will do no good at all because only the power of the Holy Spirit can cure people of racism.

    If these scholars have any specific instances of the white church as “sources of the perpetuation of white cultural dominance and racial injustice” they should be specific so that we can correct the errors. Broad insults of the entire white evangelical community is very unChristian and makes the “scholars” guilty of bearing false witness against their neighbors.

  13. letjusticerolldown says:

    I do think comment meets a pretty low bar–but that does not mean it is not important. I hear it, primarily, not as a response to Charlottesville; but as a response to President Trump’s (and others) equivocating statements.

    It is important because it comes on the heels of an escalation of these issues; and because white evangelicalism became hooked to the Trump Presidency. So the decision by this group of racist groups to do an “in-your-face” demonstration. We should not wait until the Gospel Coalition is everything, and does everything, else one might think is necessary, in order to make it clear this is not 1910 or 1960. The statement is not really lining anyone up to fight racism–but it is drawing a line to clarify we are not in the shadows applauding the action by the marchers.

    Does much else need to be done and said? Yes.

  14. Daniel King says:

    I would also really like to hear TGC’s view of the Charlottesville Declaration.

    1. Preston Reid Grissom says:

      Thank you for posting this Daniel. It would be encouraging to see the people who signed this to also sign the Charlottesville Declaration as an act of humility (and commitment to the truth) towards their caring Black brothers and sisters who have been saying these things for a long time.

  15. Sheri says:

    I am so tired of white Christians being told they need to somehow be doing something specific and pro-active about racism. You know: you don’t find racism by trying to convince others that you are not racist. And let’s just be honest: that’s what this is about. No – you fight racism by loving people who God brings into your path. Period. Why are we asking the church to get involved with this game the media is playing with society to sew strife, hatred, and to suspect the worst in each other instead of the best? Yes, there are “white supremacists” just as there are a few blacks who can’t stand white people and people of EVERY color who don’t like certain races for whatever grievance/stereotype they have of them. It’s wrong. It’s sin. It’s dark. It’s sad. But it’s also sad when we stereotype someone because of the vehicle they drive, because of the way they talk, walk, and live life each day. Humans are hard on each other because we’re ALL full of sin. To tell the “white” church they need to call out racism, in my opinion, is to enter this game by making the judgement that white people have life easier than others and therefore “owe” others something. To say that is to assume you know every individual situation of every white person to know that they have never been judged or stereotyped unfairly. Furthermore, it assumes that they harbor secret dark feelings toward those of other races or are living in sin because they never publicly confessed that their ancestors did. What I love about Jesus is that he always dealt with the individual because he was concerned with motive. He dealt with many similar situations in completely different ways because each soul is different with different struggles, temptations, and tendencies. The danger in a few of the things said in this letter is that people start to criticize the white church simply for their color which is racism as well. THAT is where you have started playing the media’s games to sew dissension because now you have put these thoughts into someone’s head that if they walk into a “white” church and there are not people of other colors or they are not publicly denouncing racism, they must be racist or contributing to it somehow. What is probably closer to the truth is that the area they live in just happen to have a high “white” population so the church represents the community’s demographics. And they may not be denouncing racism because they are busy trying to feed the poor, vulnerable, homeless, no matter WHAT color they are. We went to a church once that wanted every color represented at their church. That is a church that is getting off focus because they are more concerned with color than Christ. Heaven will have every nation and tribe but it’s not our job to manipulate who comes to our church so that we look “diverse”. Let the Holy Spirit do that job of drawing people. He is pretty good at that.

  16. patrick says:

    I sense that the Gospel Coalition doth protest too much. As a son of the South, there has never been a church that I have been to whether in Houston, Orlando, (forget Moscow), Los Angeles, and DC that wasn’t multi-ethnic. These congregations have all been theologically conservative. Never once have I come away from these churches understanding that racism (are we even really talking about racism?) is even remotely ok. I have never looked at the Black (not exclusively African-American), Asian, or Philipinos in my congregation and considered my self above these people. But I’ll tell you what. Whites will start self sorting into whiter churches if the presumption is that they’re extra responsible to address every single new story that doesn’t involve people in the church. This whole conversation assumes that Richard Spencer is a Christian. These conversations are becoming tiresome and makes me wonder if there aren’t other motives at play. I suspect those screaming the loudest about this issue want concessions (political?) from the audience of this letter that they only get if the force them to prove a negative: that they aren’t racist. Good luck. And as for Trump, stop blaming white Christians for Trump. I didn’t hear people in the church blaming Christians of color for President Obama’s immoral policies or brow-beat Christians of color about Hillary’s comments, my favorite being that “Religions will need to change”.

  17. Curt Day says:

    It’s neat to denounce racism, but a sincere repudiation of it seeks to understand its dynamics of and what drives it. One source that helps us see what maintains racism is found in what Martin Luther King Jr said about society in general:

    I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

    In addition, while it is easy spot the racism in extremists, it is important to understand that racism exists on a continuum. And while racism shouldn’t be tolerated, we need to talk about racism in ways that encourages people to be honest about racist views they may have so that they can change.

  18. M.J.Davis says:

    The professors state, “Equivocal talk about racist groups gives those groups sanction, something no politician or pastor should ever do.”

    Professors should be judged by the same standard they use to judge politicians and pastors.

    Similarly, antifa violence should be judged by the same standard that is used to judge the violence of white supremacist groups.

    Thus, equivocal talk about antifa violence gives sanction to that violence, something no politician, pastor, or professor should ever do.

    The Open Letter does not mention the violent conduct of antifa counter-protesters on August 12th or on any other occasion. In fact, the Open Letter makes the debatable assertion “the vast majority of counter-protesters” have responded peacefully “in recent weeks.”

    Failure to mention antifa violence, much less expressly condemn it, constitutes equivocal talk about antifa violence.

    The Open Letter gives sanction to antifa violence.

  19. M.J.Davis says:

    You and Professor Hall are public intellectuals. People are watching how you respond to the deadly violence in Charlottesville. When the next controversy occurs (whatever it may be), many people will remember your response to Charlottesville. They will use your response to Charlottesville as a model for their respective responses to the next incident. That being the case, do you really want people to think it’s appropriate to issue an opinion about an incident without first conducting a thorough investigation? Do you really want people to think it’s appropriate to consider the behavior of only one of the parties that was involved in the incident? Do you really want people to use the incident as an opportunity to patronize a group of people who had nothing to do with it? I urge the two of you to think carefully about those questions, because that’s what you are modeling.

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Thomas S. Kidd, PhD

Thomas S. Kidd is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University, and the author of many books, including Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father  (Yale, 2017); George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale, 2014) and Baptists in America: A History with Barry Hankins (Oxford, 2015). You can follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his weekly author newsletter.

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