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Declaration Statement: America is in Crisis

EPHESIANS 6:12-13
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Once again, the body of Christ has been called upon by God to witness to the creative power of love, Justice, mercy and righteousness over the cruel and infernal powers of darkness that has usurped God’s creation and bent it to the will of political corruption, cruelty, avarice and greed. But the forces of darkness however apparent their
ascendency may seem at this present hour, shall not ultimately prevail.

For the struggle before us is more than a mere contest of political will and ideological difference but rather a clear and consequential contest betwixt the darkness and the light. We will determine whether this nation shall go boldly forward into the future or cower in the shadows of an antiquated tribalism and join the list of the morally bankrupt fallen empires whose rattling bones crowd the dustbin of history- a rattling siren song that seems to have captured the moral and political imagination of far too many of our fellow patriots.

We stand firmly planted in a spiritual tradition committed to freedom in the deepest sense. And who better to understand its nature and value than those most often and most readily deprived of its blessings? We are here because we are devoted to the ideals of justice and equality as indicated in the noblest articulations of the American ideal; but not as mere abstractions to be touted emptily in idolatrous celebrations of an ideal American self that does not exist. We are here not to simply reinforce rhetorical commitments to abstract principles proclaimed in high places that never manage to trickle down to “the least of these”; but to demand practical responses to the concrete failures of our Republic to guarantee these realities in everyday experience. So, it can be said indeed(!) all lives matter in the abstract but clearly you must be reminded that Black lives matter in the concrete.

The African American Christian Church occupies a uniquely strategic position in the present situation being seated at the spiritual center of the political whirlwind now rocking the foundation of the American Republic; a whirlwind driven, we firmly believe, by the unfinished business of America’s stormy legacy of White racism and its perniciously tornadic spawn. As the Christian Church we, in principle, stand apart from those on the left and the right. As the body of Christ, we do not serve as mere mascots of the liberal left, sent by patronizing paternalists to serve as point on the head of their ideological spear. Nor do we set horses with those of the religious right who hide their rampant racism and hysterical hypocrisy amidst the existential ruins of a morally and theologically bankrupt spirituality. We unabashedly declare with the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:10-11), “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have called this press conference in part because we realize that to ignore this reality, that is to say the pivotal role of race and spirituality in our present malaise is to court disaster in the upcoming mid-term elections. America, we have a problem.

Stated succinctly: the American Republic is in crisis. In light of this crisis we are compelled to remind America and her leaders of some essential truths.

1) Authentic and integral leadership is not pandering to public opinion in such a crisis. It may call for the sacrifice of mundane personal preoccupations with one’s political career on the sacred altar of the common good.

2) Journalism is not treating both sides of an issue as equally valuable because they appear to be held by two or more opposing but substantial parties; but rather in subjecting both sides equally to the truth regardless of who comes out ahead in the assessment. We reject the notion that an opinion or a position is of equal worth just because someone (usually White) happens to hold it.

3) “’No kingdom divided against itself can stand.’ (We) believe this government cannot endure, permanently half [suffering arbitrary state surveillance, subjugation and cruelty] and half free.”

4) It is absolutely crucial to vote. But we hasten to add that it is not enough to remind people of an abstract obligation to vote. It is time for the powers to be to give the people a positive reason to vote. No version of the politics of fear is acceptable. Relying on cheap, morally tinged rhetorical tricks and manipulation instead of dealing practically with substantial issues particularly on race questions is what got us back here in the first place.

5) The presidency of Donald Trump is not the cause of the American malady but a symptom, a consequence, an effect; although by the aide and abetting of the present administration the sickness has received license and worsened.

6) It is Christian heresy to call any nation that forsakes the needy, the sick, the poor or mistreats the foreigner in their midst, blessed. This is to say the policy and practices of the current administration and the party in power are clearly and irredeemably Anti-Christ.

7) You can identify the true Christian Church by what it identifies with. The true Church identifies with the poor, the prisoner and the oppressed; the vulnerable and the at risk; the sick and the disabled; the lost and the mentally ill. The Christian Church cedes preeminence and affirms the primacy of the Kingdom of God in all matters finite and eternal. The Body of Christ does not identify with the interests of empire. It does not identify with the principle of profit or power over persons. It does not identify with racial supremacy. No true Christian believer prioritizes patriotism over piety or assumes the false equivalence of God and country. The identification with Christ and his Kingdom supersedes and relativizes ALL other worldly commitments.

Dr. Timothy Stewart
President
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

Dr. Calvin O. Butts
Chair, Social Justice Commission
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

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