The “An Appeal to Christians in the United States” (see below) reflects a growing alarm that our country is entering a very dangerous period in which some political leaders and some media are directly challenging our most fundamental Christian convictions. The Appeal is consequently a theological affirmation written by Christians to Christian brothers and sisters across the United States.
As of March 2, 2016, there were some 2940 signers of the Appeal. The signers represent many different backgrounds and denominations--small town pastors and pastors of large city churches; lay leaders; presidents of eight Presbyterian theological seminaries; a variety of other seminary presidents; Hispanic evangelical church leaders; Episcopal bishops; Mennonite pastors and church members; Pentecostals and evangelical leaders; African American church leaders; Lutherans from Minnesota and Calvinists from Michigan; Catholic friars and sisters; activists for the homeless; distinguished theologians, biblical scholars, and historians; Baptist pastors and Methodist leaders.
The Appeal is on a number of Facebook pages and websites--including the websites of several seminaries. David Bartlett has introduced it on a CNN Op/Ed. It has been sent to all professors emeriti of Yale University. The Christian Century has published an announcement of the Appeal and it has appeared in the Nebraska City NewsPress, the Asheville Citizen Times, and the Raleigh News and Observer. Full page ads will soon appear in Christianity Today, Books and Culture, and Sojourners and will be placed on their websites.
Will Willimon, Methodist bishop and former Dean of the Chapel at Duke, was quoted in the News and Observer as saying: "Of particular concern is that some candidates are invoking, in utterly inappropriate ways, the Christian faith as a rationale for their words and deeds.” The article quoted Jerry Falwell, Jr., as having said: “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in ...and killed them.”In response to such statements, Bob Dunham, pastor of the University Presbyterian Church, Durham, said: “My issue is I don’t think as Christians in this country, we can let other people speak for the Christian church without challenging their assumptions.”
Some statements by signers
"Daily we face a clamor of voices filled with fear and pride that presume our security means harming those we label 'other' or 'enemy.' I choose life and peace with all those signing this "Appeal to Christians in the United States."
Weldon Nisly, Mennonite pastor, Seattle, Washington
"Thank you so much for this timely and significant effort to create a collective Christian voice on this important matter.
I am signing on."
Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald
President and Professor of Faith and Public Life
San Francisco Theological Seminary
"Like many other United Methodists, I have been concerned by the barrage of political rhetoric we have been subjected to in the past few weeks. I’ve received some great sermons from pastors attempting to help their congregations think like Christians about matters of terrorism, immigration and our responsibility to our sisters and brothers in other faiths. Of particular concern is that some candidates are invoking, in utterly inappropriate ways, the Christian faith as a rationale for their words and deeds.
So when my friend Erskine Clarke of Columbia Seminary assembled some of his friends and wrote an eloquent appeal to their fellow Christians, I was honored to sign on. I think it is a great act of witness. Now I share the appeal with you and hope that many of my Ministry Matters friends will find hope and help through these words."
Will Willimon, Methodist Bishop in Alabama and former Dean of the Chapel, Duke
"As an Evangelical Christian I wanted to be sure to express to the rest of the world that our primary allegiance is to the gospel. This gospel requires of us to love the stranger, welcome the refugee, and denounce othering in every form."
Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero
Pres., National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Pastor, Lamb's Church
"This statement addresses the most powerful idol holding sway over the world today: fear. I signed as an act of resistance. As Christian people we are called to live in faith, hope and love. Those who lead (and seek to lead) must be held to this same high calling."
Scott Black Johnston, 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church, NY
Current list of those who have signed (updated regularly) may be found at http://goo.gl/KTHD8X
To sign online, go to http://goo.gl/rqcO1Q
An Appeal to Christians in the United States
We the undersigned are deeply concerned that in the current political climate many politicians and many in the media are calling on Christian voters to abandon our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to turn from His call to discipleship. We appeal to all of us who are seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus to reject such calls, to reaffirm our Christian commitments, and to seek to be agents of God’s justice and reconciliation in the world.
A fundamental conviction of Christian faith is that God is sovereign over our lives, over all nations, and over the course of human history. When we abandon that faith we surrender to fear on the one hand and to pride on the other. Both pervasive fear and overweening pride violate our commitment to the lordship of Christ.
Because of fear we too easily caricature or condemn those who are different from us. Politicians and too many in the media stereotype African Americans, Asian Americans, people from Hispanic background and followers of Islam. If we follow their lead, we slander our neighbors and blaspheme against the one God of all peoples. We resist such stereotypes and pledge to work for laws and practices that honor the dignity of all people.
Because of fear we have armed ourselves beyond all reason and beyond reasonable restrictions. Politicians and too many in the media rush to stigmatize mentally disturbed people as if they were the source of all violence, promoting the illusion that more assault weapons in our homes and in our public places will make us safe. If we follow their lead and believe their illusions, we will not only live in the midst of growing violence but will also abandon our commitment to the Prince of Peace. We resist such illusions and pledge that we will seek to limit the proliferation of guns in the U.S.
Because of fear our politicians and too many in the media try to win our votes for themselves or their candidates by demonizing the refugee and immigrant. If we follow them we will turn from following Jesus who was once a refugee in a foreign land, and we will ignore the rich biblical injunctions to welcome the stranger. We resist such enticements and pledge to be advocates for laws that regulate in a just and orderly manner the flow of refugees and immigrants.
Because of pride too many politicians tempt us to believe we can build a wall of cyber security, pretending that by technology we can be saved. Because of pride too many of our leaders are trying to lure us into believing we can build a wall of geographical security, pretending that we can engineer our way out of compassion. Because of pride, too many of our leaders call us to be like gods and to build our own twenty-first century towers of Babel. If we heed their calls and surrender to their enticements, we will turn from the God who has called us to be one and who in Jesus Christ breaks down every dividing wall of hostility. We resist such pride and the fears that drive it and pledge to work for systems of security that guard human dignity and protect the vulnerable as well as the strong.
As Christians we call ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters in the U. S. to reject these temptations that are being promoted among us. There is too much at stake for easy blasphemy. Let us resist publically all politicians and leaders who exploit fear and pride. Let us help shape the character of our much loved land not by an abandonment of our most cherished Christian convictions but by following the counsel of the Prophet Micah--to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.