A Statement Concerning Racism in our Nation
It is clear from Scripture that the whole universe has its origin with God, and everything that God has made is good (Gen.1:1-2:4). Beyond the opening chapter in Genesis, we read over and over again that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev 19:9-18, Matt 22:33-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Gal. 5:14, Jas. 2:8). When pressed by religious people about who our neighbors may be, Jesus tells us that our neighbors are everyone, even those who may be completely different from us (Luke 10:25-37). Early in the Jesus movement, well before it was called Christianity, one of the defining issues that Christ’s followers faced was how to incorporate and include others, specifically Gentiles. It was not a question of how to exclude them, but how to include them (Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30, Acts 10:1-48, Acts 15:1-35, Gal. 3:26-29, Rom. 4-5, 1 Cor. 9:19-23, Eph. 2:1-22).
While the history of Christianity has terrible moments that have included genocide and human devastation, it is clear that at our origins, we were an inclusive movement that attempted to care for the most vulnerable in society (Matt 25:31-46, Gal. 2:10, Jas. 1:27, 2:1-13, 5:1-6). With these scriptural and historical roots, it is with the strongest and clearest voice that we utterly condemn racism, white supremacy and bigotry. We condemn in the absolute strongest terms the racism and the violent, racist acts that were on display in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people died as a result of this hatred and bigotry, and one of them was a woman who was standing against evil.
We condemn any form of white supremacy because it is a sin against God and humanity. The hate that this ideology supports builds walls that separate human beings in categories of good and bad. This cannot be so!
God has created all of us in God’s own image (Gen. 1:26-27)
. Whether it is the KKK, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis, or white nationalists, all are groups espousing ideologies that are antichrist in the original sense of the term. These ideologies are absolutely opposed to the life, teachings and love ethic of Jesus Christ, who was himself a Jew born in Bethlehem and raised in Galilee (Matt. 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 13:31-35)
This moment requires more from us as churches and as a nation. As Dr. King reminds us, the greatest tragedy is not the “strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Silence is not an option. Silence is not Christian. Silence is an affront to the Gospel. We will not be silent.
We commit to preaching, teaching and living the truth that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is incompatible with racism, hate and bigotry. Christ’s love compels us to proclaim this truth boldly in communities beyond our own churches and social circles (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We believe that there will be little to no progress on difficult issues of race without establishing authentic relationships with those who hold perspectives different from our own.
For more than 25 years, we as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have sought to live out these commitments. In 1992, at our first General Assembly after launching CBF and its genuinely Baptist witness apart from the Southern Baptist Convention, we adopted “A Statement of Confession and Repentance,” offering a long overdue confession and apology to African Americans for “our historic complicity in condoning and perpetuating the sin of slavery.” “We reject forthrightly the racism which has persisted throughout our history as Southern Baptists, even to this present day,” the statement said. “Furthermore, we pledge our prayers and active efforts to work for the eradication of every vestige of racism in our nation and in our churches.”
We have pursued racial justice and community transformation through numerous active efforts, from CBF’s rural poverty initiative in the poorest counties in the United States called Together for Hope; to helping rebuild neglected minority communities in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods; to helping form and provide leadership to the New Baptist Covenant — a theologically, geographically and racially diverse movement of Baptist organizations working together toward unity and justice; to combating predatory lenders targeting people of color; and to a new partnership with African-American Baptist conventions called the Angela Project
, which seeks concrete action toward racial justice and reconciliation through the promotion of African-American prosperity and a focus on public policy and education, poverty and the legacy of slavery.
Because of our active efforts to make good on CBF’s 1992 pledge to eradicate racism in our churches, communities and nation, we commit anew to seeking out authentic relationships across racial lines. We commit to continued ministry with people of color as together we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and be faithful to the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ (Mark 12:30-31, Matt. 22:37-39, Luke 10:27). We also commit to confronting with love and humility any form of racism we encounter — individual and systemic. Strengthened by prayer and motivated by the love of Christ, who is our source of hope (Rom. 5:1-2), we seek to shine a light of love in the midst of darkness (Eph. 5:8-11).