CHRISTIANS DECLARE: NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GO SILENT ABOUT RACISM

Note:  To sign onto this statement,  Contact Us with the words “Sign On” in the subject line. Be sure to include your name and how you would like to be identified.

We, the undersigned leaders and participants in Christian congregations in Western Nevada County, based on our common desire to be followers of Jesus and his teachings, join together in witnessing to the world that we reject the separateness and exclusivity that manifest so harmfully in racism. Instead, we commit to working towards uniting and reconciling with all our brothers and sisters, all God’s children, across all barriers, and to that end:

We turn away from our desire to believe that racism only exists in other times, other places, or in other people.  We embrace examining honestly how racism unconsciously conditions our attitudes and blinds us to the injustice built into systems we accept, depend on, and even revere.

We turn away from our desire to move too quickly to an easy reconciliation that abandons justice for the sake of avoiding conflict. We embrace seeking true repair and healing while remaining insistent about the demands of justice.

We turn away from our ignorance of the ways many of our churches have contributed to the very theology and ideologies of inequality based on race and the unequal value of different classifications of human beings. We embrace working to realistically face the historic harms done by our Christian tradition, as well as to heed the prophetic voices and actions of those in our same traditions who have called for justice and equality, even when the dominant direction was opposite.

We turn away from our silence when injustice, including racism, is evident in our community, nation, and world—when bold and prophetic voices are required, but our fear of dissension or loss of support muffles our conscience.  We embrace recognizing that silence about injustice is to be complicit in perpetuating it, and therefore challenge ourselves to speak out effectively and compassionately for healing.

We turn away from our tendency to let our acts of charity on behalf of our churches substitute or suffice, when our faith demands more—advocacy and systemic change. We embrace strengthening our acts of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and other traditions of kindness towards those in need, while also using those experiences to propel us to action in our social and political life to change the systems that perpetuate inequity, including racism.

We turn away from our contentedness to speak our confessions, prayers, and proclamations of “justice and release from oppression” only within the walls of our houses of worship, while avoiding the risk of saying them in public. We embrace “speaking truth to power”, recognizing we are part of that power and privilege. We have responsibility to proclaim to society that which we pray for in church.

SIGNED,

Rev. Seth Kellerman,  Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Pastor Bill Wong, Peace Lutheran Church

Pastor David Niu, Nevada City United Methodist Church

Rev. Cathy Love, Grass Valley United Methodist Church

Rev. Suzanne Calhoun, Sierra Pines United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Judson O. Gears, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Kate O’Leary, United Methodist Church

Rev. Don Baldwin, United Methodist Church

Rev. George Carter , United Methodist Church

Rev. Sharon Delgado, United Methodist Church,  Earth Justice Ministries

Rev. Jerry Farrell, Unity Minister

Rev. Patricia Spooner     United Methodist Church

Brian Fry, Board Member, Earth Justice Ministries

Guarionex Delgado,  President, Earth Justice Ministries

Daryl Grigsby,   Author , In Their Footsteps: Inspirational Reflection on Black History

Becky Gillespie,  Advisor, Earth Justice Ministries

Note: This statement of faith regarding systemic racism is the outgrowth of discussions among local Christians from different denominations who are convinced that the teachings and example of Christ call us and other Christians to learn deeply about the origins of racism in our institutional histories and the legacy of racism in our present practices.

We acknowledge and value our kinship with people of other faith traditions, spiritual practices, and secular philosophies, many of whom have preceded us in awareness and actions to heal from racism, including people in our community who have been much more visible than Christian churches have so far. This statement of faith is an initial invitation to those who identify as Christians or as followers of Christ to join with others in taking a public stand.

Those who have signed on, so far, are few in number, but this is a start. Anyone who wishes to sign on, Contact Us with the words “Sign On” in the subject line, your name and how you would like to be identified. One can sign on as clergy, laity, or as individuals. You can identify with a particular denomination or congregation or not, as you feel appropriate. You might choose different wording or a different perspective. You might wish to make your own statement. You might wish to have it be more inclusive of other faiths and spiritual traditions. We welcome dialog.

 

 

Published in the Grass Valley Union on January 12, 2021. Find it here.

The shame of the assault on the Capitol of the United States is the shame of white America.

By white America, I do not mean every white person in the United States. I do, however, mean the majority of white Americans.

Majority means the more than half of whites who voted in this last election. According to the Pew Research Center, 57% of the whites who voted, voted for Donald Trump. That is almost 6 of every 10 white voters.

Once in the confines of the Christian church, of which I am an embarrassed member, the white support increases. According to surveys and exit polls, 78% of white evangelicals, 53% of white Catholics, and 52% of white non-evangelical Protestants supported him for a second term. That despite his racist rhetoric and actions, denial of a deadly pandemic, bullying and lies, and overt calls for extreme nationalism and white supremacy.

And now we see whites running for the exits, expressing dismay and shock and surprise at the flag-waving mob that took over the Capitol.

What happened on Jan. 6 was not an aberration. It is what Trump has been projecting, proclaiming and calling for in the last several months — and for anyone who listened carefully -—the last four years.

The election of 2020 should not have been close, and in fact, would not have been close, were it not for the majority of white American voters. White American voters, especially those of the Christian faith, bear direct responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6, because their votes enabled, empowered, and emboldened him to act as a mob instigator.

What if the election was not even close? What if whites — en masse — abandoned his divisive hateful political program? He would have been isolated and left without any grounds to claim the election was stolen. His only supporters would have been exposed as the mob that assaulted our democracy.

White America, not all, but most, gave him the power and platform to lead the charge against all we allegedly hold sacred in this country.

Let me again make distinction: This is not about all whites. This is about those who I believe — by their votes, their prayers (without corresponding deeds for the common good), their actions, or their silence — enabled an obvious deranged bully and self-centered racist to act in the manner he did.

You cannot swim in the sewers without wearing the stench. Were most white people assaulting the Capitol? No. Did most white voters support the one who instigated the mob — that very day — to “take back our country”? Yes.

Eddie Glaude, author of “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” makes the distinction between “white people and humans who happen to be white.“

I make that same distinction, for I firmly believe that most white Americas are blinded by the privilege of their color and thus are unaware that being white supersedes being human or being Christian.

Those who are human first, a significant minority, live with integrity, compassion and values. They in fact our hold our nation together with their courageous work for justice.

The majority of whites did not storm the Capitol — but they did aid and abet their leader. That you cannot deny, refute or explain away.

It is way past time for white America, those not on the racist terrorist fringe — but those with integrity and conscience — to face the facts of their complicity and do something concrete about it. Anything less is empty words and crocodile tears which lead not to change but more of the same. When is enough enough!?

If white Americans, that majority who voted for Trump, cannot see their role in and relationship to the assault on the Capitol and take the corresponding and necessary corrective actions, then our nation has a long, painful road ahead.

Amazingly, if it were up to the majority of white voters, the majority of white Christians, Trump would be beginning another four years. Whenever I am in a group of white people, that reality disturbs me.

I am reading comments that “This is not America.’” As an African-American who has lived through eight different decades, one whose great-grandfather was a slave (and a child by rape of a slave woman by the slave master), I’m here to proclaim this is America. More specifically, this is white America.

As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “by their fruits you shall know them.” Again, when is enough enough?

Daryl Grigsby lives in Nevada City.

 

We are people aligned with various local groups who are concerned that if President Donald Trump loses in the upcoming election he will refuse to concede power even if the results are clear. We are organizing locally, as are thousands of people around the country.

We see many warning signs. When asked repeatedly, Trump has refused to commit to respecting election results. In July, when Chris Wallace asked, he answered, “I have to see… No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.” The other day he again started people chanting at a rally: “Twelve more years,” despite the eight-year Constitutional limit.

All of us should be invested in the integrity of the democratic process, respect for election results, and the peaceful transition (or continuation) of power. Those of us who are looking at this challenge ask each of you to consider what you might do if this threat becomes reality. Most coup attempts fail if the people take immediate action. To find out how to be prepared, see below.

We ask our local elected representatives to prepare for this contingency by 1) establishing standards to protect voters from intimidation, 2) counting every vote before certifying results, and 3) directing local law enforcement officials to respect people’s First Amendment rights and protect those rights from individuals and groups who may threaten them.

There are many possible scenarios for election interference. The Trump Administration has been hard at work at voter suppression, including restricting vote-by-mail during the pandemic. Mail continues to be delayed. The most likely scenario is this: Trump will show a lead on Election Night, since his supporters are expected to vote in person, with his lead diminishing as mail-in votes are counted, perhaps stretching into days or even weeks. Trump could claim early victory, resulting in contested results, state-by-state power struggles, demonstrations, social media chaos, and inflammatory tweets by Trump. This could be just the beginning of a chaotic election and aftermath.

A Trump Campaign adviser said, “There will be a count on election night, that count will shift over time, and the results when the final count is given will be challenged as being inaccurate, fraudulent — pick your word.” For months Trump has been setting the stage for this claim. At the Republican National Convention, he said, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.”

An article for the November 2020 Atlantic Magazine “What if Trump Refuses to Concede?” was published online early because of its urgency. It recommends:

“…If you are at relatively low risk for COVI9, volunteer to work at the polls. If you know people who are open to reason, spread word that it is normal for the results to keep changing after Election Night. If you manage news coverage, anticipate extra­constitutional measures, and position reporters and crews to respond to them. If you are an election administrator, plan for contingencies you never had to imagine before. If you are a mayor, consider how to deploy your police to ward off interlopers with bad intent. If you are a law-enforcement officer, protect the freedom to vote. If you are a legislator, choose not to participate in chicanery. If you are a judge on the bench in a battleground state, refresh your acquaintance with election case law. If you have a place in the military chain of command, remember your duty to turn aside unlawful orders. If you are a civil servant, know that your country needs you more than ever to do the right thing when you’re asked to do otherwise.”

Finally, join us in signing the following pledge at choosedemocracy.us. Tens of thousands have already signed:

  1. We will vote.
  2. We will refuse to accept election results until all the votes are counted.
  3. We will nonviolently take to the streets if a coup is attempted.
  4. If we need to, we will shut down this country to protect the integrity of the democratic process.

Those of us who are working together so far include: Sharon Delgado, Guarionex Delgado, Janie Kesselman, Mikos Fabersunne, Avila Lowrance, Brian Fry, Shirley Osgood, Jesse Golden, Joyce Banzhaf, Peter Galbraith. We invite you to join us. Find updated information on Earth Justice Ministries Facebook Page, which also appears on the website at https://earth-justice.org.

In closing, from The Atlantic: “Take agency. An election cannot be stolen unless the American people, at some level, acquiesce.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reverend David Nui, pastor Nevada City United Methodist Church

(Regarding whether we should hold a demonstration for racial justice after violent white supremacists attacked a previous one.)

This is a challenging time and we cannot allow the injustices and the violence to dominate our lives and our community. Fear is what the counter-peace protestors want to instill in anyone who wants to voice their grievances regarding the systemic racism that has taken over everything; from politics to the economy, to education and, yes, unfortunately, even Christianity.

For any action to have the impact that is called for, TIMING is everything. Action is needed when everyone perks up and takes notice. To wait until it is safe is a figment of one’s imagination. Was there ever a peaceful protest not met with violence? Was there ever a peaceful protest welcomed by those whose hearts are filled with hatred and racism? There is no safe way to protest. There is no right way to protest. There has not been one in the past and there will be none in the future. That is just the nature of protesting. If one wants to have safe actions, it would be best to have that action in one’s own backyard or living room. One must accept the risks of going against the grain. Many of the rights that we are taking for granted today were fought for with blood, sweat, and tears. That is the kind of risk that one has to take if a real change is demanded. Otherwise, the safest place is home where the change needed will never come by.

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” MLK Jr.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Pastor Dave Niu

Nevada City United Methodist Church