The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Boston with a clear message: America rejects racism and hate. This has been the consistent message coming from nearly every corner of the country since the racially motivated domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville.
President Donald Trump’s Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum were shut down as business leaders came out strong against Trump’s defense of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. This lead to Trump abandoning plans to create an infrastructure council.
Fourteen members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities have resigned after Trump’s support of hate groups and his pushing of false equivalencies, according to a letter in which the first letter of each paragraph put together spell RESIST. This was an added subtle message of encouragement to readers at large.
Many members of Congress have come out strong condemning racism, white supremacy, and the violence perpetrated by neo-Nazis and members of the KKK in Charlottesville. Though few Congressional Republicans have challenged President Trump directly by name. Senators Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse are notable exceptions.
Many faith leaders like Rev. Dr. William Barber and Pastor Traci Blackmon have spoken out against racially motivated violence in Charlottesville and condemned the President’s endorsement of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. while also calling out his lies.
However, one group remains noticeably silent. And many in recent days have been drawing attention to the nearly deafening silence from the leaders of Donald Trump’s unofficial board of evangelical advisors. With one exception, Pastor A. R. Bernard, who announced his departure from the group, these leaders have been noticeably silent in an otherwise universal condemnation of the hate, bigotry, and violence in Charlottesville and President Trump’s handling of its aftermath. And more revealing as the President faces this flurry condemnation some of these evangelical leaders double down on their support of him and their call to serve on the council.
It is not at all surprising that many Congressional Republicans have failed to call out Trump by name for his racism and support of white supremacists and neo-Nazis as they need him to sign their tax cut bill. That is if they ever get one passed.
More as Sarah Jones shows the Republican Party cultivated and grew this racism over decades. The rise of the Right Wing Moral Majority of Conservative Evangelicals largely participated in this and turned their faith into a fraud so that they could achieve their political ideological goals and attempt to legislate their so-called “family values” regardless of what the scriptures said or the constitution allows.
A few Evangelical leaders and some Republicans in Congress aside, the country is coming out in force to wrestle with and overcome America’s original sin of racism.
It is noteworthy that the violence in Charlottesville has set-off a fire storm of debate regarding what to do with Confederate statues on public property across the country. City officials in some areas have been quick to remove statues from parks and other public places.
Congressional Republicans and Evangelical faith leaders who side with Trump will soon learn that they are on the wrong side of history. The momentum begun with counter-protestors in Charlottesville, continued with leaders in business and the humanities, and bursting in Boson proves that people are ready to turn their protest signs into policy measures.
Let us not miss this opportunity with focused attention on the evils of racism and white supremacy to break down the systems of injustice and oppression in society and in our own soul. Just as we need the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and reform in the criminal justice system, so also we need new narratives in the cultural streams of this country that teach children prejudice and hate.
In this way we can live and instill in the next generation the moral values on display in Boston. As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said, “It’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate.”