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A Public Call to Protect All People

Posted by Ryan Hall

National Christian Leaders Cite “Threatening, Authoritarian Messages”


Noting concern that “threatening, authoritarian messages” accompanying the recent election of Donald J. Trump “open the way to more radical attacks on human rights and democratic processes” within the United States, 50 Christian leaders from across America have called on congregations and assemblies to deepen their engagements in the political and economic health of local communities.

A Public Call to Protect All Peoples (See statement below)—released today for the first time—challenges congregations to make four public commitments:

  • protect and support all people, including those “targeted, discriminated against or singled out for state-sponsored/sanctioned violence;”
  • support “practices of diplomacy and negotiation” in the carrying out of U.S. foreign policy;
  • support an economic order that “is sustainable as a servant of the people amid changes in climate;” and
  • seek new “relationships of solidarity” locally that “reach across lines of creed, class, ethnicity, race and party preference.”

Denominational leaders, pastors, community activists, scholars and founders of para-church organizations have signed the Call. Among the well-known signers are Tony Campolo, Dr. Iva Carruthers, Jimmy Carter, Fr. John Dear, Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, Dr. John Paul Lederach, Dr. Catherine Meeks and Jim Wallis. Rev. C.T. Vivian, a member of the Originating Committee and one of the leaders of the Civil Right Movement in the United States, sees parallels between the present historical moment in America and the time sixty years ago when he first stepped into the public arena as a colleague of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Vivian says:

“Now as then we have this popular groundswell seeking greater equity and opportunity. Now as then we have forces of reaction determined to smother reform. Now as then we need the wisdom and moral authority of people of faith in the public arena, protecting and supporting the worth and rights of all people.”

The lead organizer of the Call, John K. Stoner, commented on the sensitive political dynamics at play:

“The election of Donald Trump is a flashpoint for many people because of the tone of his campaign. But the widespread anxiety, fear and confusion people are feeling pre-dates his election and campaign. The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been intensely political without ever being narrowly partisan. This document is rooted in that gospel and reflects the same spirit. It asks congregations to join together locally and put themselves on the line for the vulnerable, for a foreign policy seeking peace, for a just economic order.”

Accompanying the Call is an Implementation Guide for local congregations and assemblies. Both documents are attached to this message. They also may be accessed online at the following sites:

A Public Call to Protect All People

The 2016 presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have added to the anger, fear and  misunderstanding already present in our communities. We refer specifically to the inflammatory and blaming language used by Donald Trump regarding Muslims, Mexican immigrants and women and by Hillary Clinton  regarding the Russian government and “deplorable” Trump supporters.

The election results require us to be far more serious about lost jobs and income. American households of all colors have suffered from economic policies and military interventions pursued by Democratic and Republican administrations over the past 25 years.

Most importantly, we dare not ignore that the elevation of Donald Trump as President of the United States came with threatening, authoritarian messages. If such talk is not opposed, we open the way to more radical attacks on human rights and democratic processes here in the U.S. And we can expect even more reliance on military threats and force abroad.

As followers of Jesus ourselves (see names below)—and with a fervent hope that other faith communities, secular groups, etc. might use this as a model—we feel led by God’s Spirit to call upon congregations and other assemblies to make the following public commitments in their communities:

1. We will protect and support the worth and rights of all people, including marginalized persons who are targeted, discriminated against or singled out by hate crimes or state-sponsored/sanctioned violence;

2. We will oppose the aspirations of those who seek U.S. global domination through the use of propaganda, inciting terror, military threats, regime change and war. We will support instead the practices of diplomacy and negotiation, which lead to peace.

3. We will support a just economic order—one that is sustainable as a servant of the people amid the changes in climate that have already begun.

4. To keep these promises, we will reach across lines of creed, class, ethnicity, race and party preference in a spirit of empathy and learning, seeking relationships of solidarity with other groups.

Originating Committee:
John K. Stoner, founder of Every Church a Peace Church
Tony Brown, founder of Peacing It Together Foundation
Rev. C. T. Vivian, civil rights leader and recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, senior organizer for Fellowship of Reconciliation; consultant for Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Berry Friesen, co-author of IF NOT EMPIRE, WHAT? A SURVEY OF THE BIBLE

Initiators of this Call:
(affiliation is noted for identification only and does not convey organizational support for this Call)
Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, senior minister, First Congregational Church, UCC, Columbus, OH
Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, CEO of WomanPreach! Inc. & associate professor, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Rev. Amy K. Butler, senior pastor, The Riverside Church in the City (NYC)
Tony Campolo, co-founder of Red Letter Christians
Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, former President and First Lady of the United States of America
Shane Claiborne, author, activist, co-founder of Red Letter Christians
Rev. John Dear, author, activist, co-founder of
Rev. Ronald Degges, president, Disciples Home Missions, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Jim and Shelley Douglass, co-founders of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Mary’s House Catholic Worker
Bren Dubay, executive director of Koinonia Farm, Americus, GA Page #2 – A Public Call to Protect All People
Mel Duncan, director of advocacy and outreach, Nonviolent Peaceforce
Elaine Enns, author and co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, Pasadena CA
Ted Grimsrud, senior professor at Eastern Mennonite University
Michael Hardin, executive director, Preaching Peace
Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, president, Chicago Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, president, Auburn Theological Seminary (NYC)
Hyun Hur and Sue Park-Hur, co-founders and directors of ReconciliAsian, Pasadena CA
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Rev. Mike Kinman, rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA
John Paul Lederach, professor at Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister, Middle Collegiate Church, New York City
Norman Edgar Lowry, KN9758, prisoner of conscience at Dallas State Correctional Institution in PA
Leslie Watson Malachi, director of African American Religious Affairs, People for the American Way
Rev. Michael McBride, pastor of The Way Church, Berkeley, CA and director of PICO Network’s “Live Free” campaign
Dr. Catherine Meeks, chair of Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Commission for Dismantling Racism
Don Mosley, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity International and of Jubilee Partners
Ched Myers, theological animator, author and organizer
Dr. Han S. Park, professor emeritus, founder of GLOBIS, University of Georgia
Gilberto Perez Jr., senior director of intercultural development and educational partnerships, Goshen College
LeDayne McLeese Polaski, executive director/directora ejecutiva, Baptist Peace Fellowship~ Bautistas por la Paz
Dennis Rivers, author and editor of
Gerald W. Schlabach, professor of theology at University of St. Thomas (MN)
Rev. Ken Sehested, editor of Prayer&
Ronald J. Sider, president emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action
Elizabeth Soto, professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary
Rev. Kristin Gill Stoneking, executive director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Sarah Thompson, executive director, Christian Peacemaker Teams
Rev. Cameron B. Trimble, chief executive officer of ConvergenceUS and of the Center for Progressive Renewal
Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners
Rev. Dr. Richard Wing, senior Pastor, First Community Church, Columbus, OH
Carol Wise, executive director, Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests

See Implementation Plan here (PDF)

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