The Officers and Board of the National Union of Black Episcopalians has affirmed the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter: “A Word to the Church” in a statement released yesterday which is reprinted below.
[All embolden quotes are from the House of Bishops’ Pastoral, March 15, 2016]
“We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others.”
Inspired by these words and the increasingly coarse and divisive nature of our political discourse the Union of Black Episcopalians endorses the courageous and prophetic statement of our Bishops. Furthermore, given the accelerating climate of public violence we are compelled to add our voice.
The Union of Black Episcopalians’ has Chapters in Dioceses throughout the Church and our membership includes Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We represent the African Diaspora within the Episcopal Church, with diverse cultural heritages and languages, including English, Spanish, French and multiple Afro-phonic tongues.
With the House of Bishops we recognize that old idolatrous notions are being empowered by current careless political rhetoric—-rhetoric which is authorizing and re-energizing sinful cultural myths regarding majority privilege and superiority. Specifically, we speak of cultural assumptions about race, gender, national origins and other prejudicial attitudes which disrespect the dignity of minorities and the under-represented.
We are aware that tactically controversial rhetoric is often used for political advantage. However, the current character of such speech is unparalleled. Further, we believe that both those who use incendiary speech and those who affirm it by silence are nurturing the fears of many in the majority community; specifically, that white American welfare and status as the entitled class is threatened by the interests, progress and changing demographics of minorities in our society.
In our opinion chief among those whose political speech is authorizing and nurturing such vitriolic divisions is presidential candidate, Mr. Donald Trump. Many of his statements speak pejoratively of minorities and others not traditionally included in the political and racial hegemony of the American myth— A myth that affirms the superiority of those who are male and of European heritage. We call upon Episcopalians to actively resist this ungodly myth, and the current public rhetoric which is empowering racism, misogyny, and irrational fears of the foreigner.
We realize the contemporary political climate is often an incendiary; thus, intimidating many of us to the safety of quiet resolve. Yet, our faith calls us to be gracefully courageous in countering any Idolatrous discourse intended to diminish human dignity. As the Bishop’s Pastoral reminds us, “No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.” We believe to do less would betray our Baptismal Covenant and our integrity as Christians. The Union of Black Episcopalians actively joins with the House of Bishops and the larger Church in common prayer “….that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves.”
You can download (pdf) the House of Bishop’s letter here