Glowing flaming crosses are just as American as glaring red rockets. Systemic racism and White supremacy are among our nation’s cornerstones. Stolen Native American land and enslaved Africans made the United States a superpower.
Dehumanizing and demoralizing Black people made America great. Some believe standing on people of color’s necks can only preserve greatness. Fear and hatred drove MAGA March attendees to destroy Black Lives Matter banners from two Black Washington, D.C. churches.
Racist vandals ripped them from Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal and Asbury United Methodist Church’s edifices. That action didn’t satisfy their lust for dehumanization and disrespect. Their unquenchable desire inspired them to set the banners ablaze, sparking a fire with a familiar glimmer.
Common and John Legend remind us in their song, Glory, freedom is a religion. Systemic racism denies Black people the spiritual practice of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Dismissing the sacred worth of Black people is part of some Trump supporters’ liturgy.
As people of faith, we affirm all people as fabulous creations of God. The Story of Ham isn’t proof that Black people are the Black sheep of God’s family. She loves all her children equally. We denounce both the action and the rhetoric that challenges the latter reality.
Variations of that rhetoric and action have haunted Black people since 1619, according to Black liberation theology’s father, the Rev. Dr. James Hal Cone.
“To keep hope alive was not easy for African Americans, facing state-endorsed terrorism nearly everywhere in America. Trouble followed them wherever they went—in the morning, at night, and all day long—keeping them awake and stalking them in nightmares, like a wild beast, waiting to attack its prey,” Cone wrote in his 2011 book, The Cross & The Lynching Tree.
Our current national leadership created a safe space for those who consider Black people prey. It unleashed individuals giving into impulses to act like wild beasts. Their disregard for humanity and decency has kept the oppressed wide-awake – living a nightmare.
That disregard for humanity and decency is an abomination to the God of the oppressed. We stand in solidarity
with both the Black faith communities and the Black community at large. Our God and her son, Jesus, call us to treat everyone as a gift.
This attack on these Black churches, though, isn’t just a hate crime; ripping those Black Lives Matter banners from church fronts violated religious freedom. Affirming and proclaiming that Black lives matter – by any means necessary – is also a spiritual practice.
The Potomac Association Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ, on the recommendation of the Justice and Witness Committee and the principal author of the above statement, Rev. Jason Carson Wilson, adopted this statement on December 15, 2020.