For Immediate Release
Contact: Doug Pagitt, 612-730-7337
Oxford, UK – This past week (March 20-24, 2023) delegates from across the United States and abroad, leaders from the Black Church tradition, from the evangelical Christian tradition and other faith leaders have concluded their multi-racial, multi-faith summit, Meeting the Challenge of the Rise in Racialized Christian Nationalism. This 42 member group convened at Harris Manchester College at Oxford University to discuss the rise of racialized Christian nationalism around the world and most specifically the United States. Their historic gathering went beyond its initial intent of a colloquium, where leaders brought their individual academic content and their unique and diverse perspectives. Fueled by the collective expertise of presenters and a full day of facilitated processing the leaders were compelled to raise an urgent rally cry.
The seriousness of the topic, rooted in a history spanning more than three millennia and on full display in counties across the US, created this sense of urgency to which the group is coming together in solidarity. These sponsoring organizations: The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Urban Renewal Center and Vote Common Good had this to say about the event.
“There are striking parallels between the lead-up to Hitler and his racist Nazi dictatorship in 1930s Germany, and the contemporary advance of Christian nationalism in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and other places. We are in crisis now and can’t wait until an undefined future time to resolve this threat. The world learned that bitter lesson 90 years ago, and humanity can’t afford to repeat it.” Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, President, The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Washington D.C.
“The gathering was chock full of insight, a plethora of perspectives from ultra conservative to very progressive. We sincerely need to dismantle the racial tension that continues to brew in every sector of our society. People are hurting. Our children and their future demands undivided attention to this matter. To borrow words from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “This is the fierce urgency of now.” This evil not only disrespects our democratic republic, but also insults the love and justice our faith demands.” Rev. Dr. Antipas L. Harris, President of the Urban Renewal Center, Norfolk, VA
“Christian ministry has been the heartbeat of my life. We must protect the rights of all people of faith and no faith. I believe resistance to Christian Nationalism in the American context is a part of the Christian faith.” Doug Pagitt, Executive Director Vote Common Good, Minneapolis, MN
“In 1967 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned in his final book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos of Community, that the segregationist would rather have an American form of facism than democracy, if democracy requires equality. In his day the segregationist movement was fueled by a potent iteration of White Christian nationalism concentrated in the American South. Today White Christian Nationalism is contending for state power in all 50 states. It is the duty of every person of conscience to rise and roundly reject this scourge. And it is the mandate of every follower of Jesus to embrace politics that ensures the protection and flourishing of all.” Lisa Sharon Harper, President & Founder of Freedom Road, author Fortune & The Very Good Gospel
“Racialized Christian Nationalism is an imminent threat to the survival of American democracy. From assaults on public education to threats of violence promulgated against public officials, Christian Nationalism is tearing apart the very fabric of our society. All people of goodwill must take just action to stop this scourge and to secure a peaceful future for our children.” Dr. Michael W. Waters, Abundant Life A.M.E. Church, Dallas, TX
“We have come to Oxford to debunk the slave master myth from the Enlightenment period in England.” Rev. Dr. Van B Gayton, Sr. Fellow of the Karson Institute of Louisville University of Maryland, Jacksonville, FL
“The fixation of man’s supreme loyalty upon his nation or nationality marked the beginning of the age of nationalism. And, the fusion of nationality and patriotism led to the birth of modern nationalism, and from this point on, began the desire for an expansion to what was called the willingness to discover other continents and it became the worst crime the history has ever witnessed. Much of Africa’s poor performance can be explained by its history, which is characterized by over 400 years of slave raiding.The countries from which the largest numbers of slaves were taken were also the areas that had the most underdeveloped political structures at the end of the 19th century, as well as being the countries that are the most ethnically fragmented today.” Rev. Paulo Carvalho, Senior Pastor and Founder of God’s Wisdom International Church, Angola Africa
“It is urgent that the Church acts now in condemning all forms of Christian Nationalism in the US & Religious Nationalism around the world. Christian Nationalism is both a Christian heresy and anti-democratic.” Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs, Senior Pastor Franklin Community, Franklin, TN
“The colloquium represented a diversity of thought, discipline, experience, and expertise and impressed on me the urgency and seriousness of the newest rise of racialized Christian nationalism, including the Church’s role in responding to the call of change in the public sphere.” Dr. Desiree Lebengood, Minneapolis, MN
“The undertow of racialized Christian nationalism is killing our nation and the Christian church. As Americans we must ensure everyone has the freedom to practice their religion. As an evangelical Christian whose church history has used their religion to conquer, oppress and enslave those who don’t share the faith, we need to ensure that the separation of church and state is protected.” Michelle Ferrigno Warren, President Virago Strategies, Sr. Fellow of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.