An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America Today

​Like many Americans, we are grieved by recent events in Charlottesville. The white supremacist rally there showed that overt racism is alive and well in America, and that it can turn violent and murderous. As Christian scholars of American history, politics, and law, we condemn white supremacy and encourage frank dialogue about racism today.

​As Americans, we love our country. As Christians, we know that no individual, people, or nation is perfect. Among the most grievous sins committed by early Americans was the enslavement of and trafficking in Africans and African Americans. Slavery was formally abolished in 1865, but racism was not. Indeed, it was often institutionalized and in some ways heightened over time through Jim Crow legislation, de facto segregation, structural inequalities, and pervasively racist attitudes. And other persons of color, including Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans, have often been subjected to official and unofficial discrimination. What we have seen in Charlottesville makes it clear once again that racism is not a thing of the past, something that brothers and sisters of color have been trying to tell the white church for years.

​Racism should be denounced by religious and civic leaders in no uncertain terms. Equivocal talk about racist groups gives those groups sanction, something no politician or pastor should ever do. As Christian scholars, we affirm the reality that all humans are created in the image of God and should be treated with respect and dignity. There is no good moral, biblical, or theological reason to denigrate others on the basis of race or ethnicity, to exalt one race over others, or to countenance those who do.

​Even as we condemn racism, we recognize that the First Amendment legally protects even very offensive speech. Rather than trying to silence those with whom we disagree, or to meet violence with more violence, we encourage our fellow citizens to respond to groups like the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan with peaceful counter-protests. (Indeed, this has been the approach of the vast majority of counter-protesters in recent weeks.) No one is beyond redemption, so we encourage our fellow believers to pray that members of these groups will find the truth, and that the truth will set them free.

We also recognize that white-majority churches and denominations have too often lagged in discussions of racial injustice and inequality, or have even been sources of the perpetuation of white cultural dominance and racial injustice. Because of that history, we pray that America’s churches and Christians will renew their commitment to practical, proactive steps of racial reconciliation and friendship in our cities and towns.


Mark David Hall, George Fox University

Thomas S. Kidd, Baylor University

We, the undersigned, are Christian scholars of American history, politics, and law who endorse this letter. Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Carl Abrams, Bob Jones University
Daniel L. Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Frank S. Alexander, Emory Law School
Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Regent University School of Divinity
Noemi Hernandez Alexander, California Baptist University
Scott Althaus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Douglas Firth Anderson, Northwestern College (Iowa)
Edwin David Aponte, Louisville Institute
Barbara E. Armacost, University of Virginia School of Law
Brent J. Aucoin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Bryan Bademan, Anselm House
Jeff Baker, Pepperdine University School of Law
Hunter Baker, Union University
Thomas E Baker, Florida International University College of Law
Richard A. Bailey, Canisius College
Kedron Bardwell, Simpson College
Beth Allison Barr, Baylor University
Steve Barracca, Eastern Kentucky University
Scott Barton, East Central University
Keith Bates, Union University
Alan Bearman, Washburn University
Michael Beaty, Baylor University
E. Calvin Beisner, The Cornwall Alliance
Al Beck, Baylor University
David Beer, Malone University
Daniel Bennett, John Brown University
Thomas C. Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Jeffrey Bilbro, Spring Arbor University
Robin Marshall Bittick, Sam Houston State University
Amy E. Black, Wheaton College
G. Robert Blakey, Notre Dame Law School
Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University
Bradley J. Birzer, Hillsdale College
Josh Bowman, Louisiana State University
Andrew Bramsen, Bethel University
Jeffrey A. Brauch, Regent University School of Law
William S. Brewbaker III, University of Alabama
Margaret Brinig, Notre Dame Law School
Matthew S. Brogdon, University of Texas at San Antonio
Thomas E. Buckley, Santa Clara University
Greg W. Burch, Multnomah University
Jared Burkholder, Grace College
Sean R. Busick, Athens State University
James P. Byrd, Vanderbilt University
Anthony T. Caito, Corban University
Samuel W. Calhoun, Washington and Lee School of Law
Charles B. Campbell, Faulkner University School of Law
Joel A. Carpenter, Calvin College
Heath W. Carter, Valparaiso University
Jay R. Case, Malone University
Joseph Castleberry, Northwest University
Ben Cater, Point Loma Nazarene University
Amy L. Cavender, Saint Mary’s College
Colin Chapell, University of Memphis
Clifton R. Clarke, Fuller Theological Seminary
Justin Clardie, Northwest Nazarene University.
Robert F. Cochran, Jr., Pepperdine University School of Law
Elesha Coffman, Baylor University
Kimberly H. Conger, University of Cincinnati
Patrick L. Connelly, Mississippi College
William R Cook, SUNY Geneseo
Tom Copeland, Colorado Christian University
Mark W. Cordes, Northern Illinois University College of Law
Jesse Covington, Westmont College
John C. Craft, Faulkner University School of Law
Sue E. S. Crawford, Creighton University
Carol Ann Vaughn Cross, Samford University
K. Scott Culpepper, Dordt College
John A. D’Elia, New Theological Seminary of the West
Michelle D. Deardorff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Michael J. DeBoer, Faulkner University School of Law
Jonathan Den Hartog, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, MN
Patrick J. Deneen, University of Notre Dame
Kevin den Dulk, Calvin College
David L. Dillman, Abilene Christian University
John M. A. DiPippa, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law
Janine Giordano Drake, University of Providence
Sarah E. Doherty, North Park University
Seth Dowland, Pacific Lutheran University
Daniel Dreisbach, American University
Michael Duduit, Clamp Divinity School, Anderson University
W. Cole Durham, Jr., J. Reuben Clark Law School
Martha Eads, Eastern Mennonite University
Eduardo J. Echeverria, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Ruth M. Ediger, Seattle Pacific University
Mark Edwards, Spring Arbor College
Robert Elder, Valparaiso University
William Curtis Ellis, Oral Roberts University
Priscilla Eppinger, American Baptist Historical Society
Carl H. Esbeck, University of Missouri School of Law
John C. Evans, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Sean F. Evans, Union University
John Fea, Messiah College
Peter Feaver, Duke University
David Lewis Feldman, University of California, Irvine
Joel S. Fetzer, Pepperdine University
Nathan A. Finn, Union University
Kahlib J. Fischer, Liberty University
Richard R. Follett, Covenant College
Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute
Brian Franklin, Southern Methodist University
Beverly A. Gaddy, University of Pittsburgh
Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Valparaiso University School of Law
Collin Garbarino, Houston Baptist University
John C. Gardner, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Richard W. Garnett, Notre Dame Law School
Brantley Gasaway, Bucknell University
Christopher Gehrz, Bethel University
Loramy Gerstbauer, Gustavus Adolphus College
Troy Gibson, University of Southern Mississippi
Naomi Harlin Goodno, Pepperdine University School of Law
Christopher Graham, American Civil War Museum
Christopher R. Green, University of Mississippi School of Law
Gene L. Green, Wheaton College
Jay Green, Covenant College
R. Kent Greenawalt, Columbia Law School
Kevin E. Grimm, Regent University
John G. Grove, Lincoln Memorial University
Mark Gstohl, Xavier University of Louisiana
Darren Guerra, Biola University
Frank Guliuzza, Patrick Henry College
James L. Guth, Furman University
Mel Hailey, Abilene Christian University
Timothy D. Hall, Samford University
Barry Hankins, Baylor University
Matt Harper, Mercer University
Wm. Scott Harrop, University of Virginia
Rusty Hawkins, Indiana Wesleyan University
Merrill M. Hawkins, Jr., Carson-Newman University
John W. Hawthorne, Spring Arbor University
Susan Turner Haynes, Lipscomb University
Gail L. Helt, King University
Megan Hershey, Whitworth University
Allen D. Hertzke, University of Oklahoma
Nicholas Higgins, Regent University
Joshua P. Hochschild, Mount St. Mary’s University
Dennis R. Hoover, The Review of Faith & International Affairs
Lia C. Howard, Saint Joseph’s University
Brian M. Howell, Wheaton College
Douglas R. Hume, Azusa Pacific University
William Inboden, University of Texas at Austin
Charles A. Israel, Auburn University
Bradley P. Jacob, Regent University School of Law
Aaron Jerviss, Johnson University-Tennessee
Thomas Jones, Taylor University
John C. Knechtle, University of the West Indies
Stephen S. Knott, United States Naval War College
Kate E. Knutson, Gustavus Adolphus College.
Sue Hulett, Knox College
Andrew Kaufmann, Northwest University
Kenneth Keathley, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lyman Kellstedt, Wheaton College
Rick Kennedy, Point Loma Nazarene University
Michael Kensak, Northwestern College
Bret Kincaid, Fresno Pacific University
Stephen M. King, Regent University
Rick Kirgis, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Tom Knecht, Westmont College
Joseph M. Knippenberg, Oglethorpe University
Jennifer Lee Koh, Western State College of Law
Douglas L. Koopman, Calvin College
David E. Lambert, Azusa Pacific University
Richard Land, Southern Evangelical Seminary
Rachel C. Larson, North Greenville University
Robin M. Lauermann, Messiah College
Robin M. LeBlanc, Washington and Lee University
Louis F. Lobenhofer, Pettit College of Law Ohio Northern University
Brad Lockerbie, East Carolina University
Karen A. Longman, Azusa Pacific University
Bradford Mank, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Paul Matzko, Baylor University
George Marsden, University of Notre Dame
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma
Robert L. McFarland, Faulkner University School of Law
Michael McKoy, Wheaton College.
Gerald R McDermott, Beeson Divinity School
Michael B. McDuffee, Moody Bible Institute
Bryan T. McGraw, Wheaton College
Ryan McIlhenny, Geneva College Shanghai
Tracy McKenzie, Wheaton College
Kelly F. McTear, Faulkner University School of Law
Martin J. Medhurst, Baylor University
Robert J. Mayer, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, Gordon College
Allen Mendenhall, Faulkner University, Jones School of Law
Linda Meyer, Quinnipiac University School of Law
Heidi Michelsen, Praxis Center of Costa Rica
Ron Miller, Liberty University
C. Ben Mitchell, Union University
Christopher D. Moore, Bethel University
Lucas Morel, Washington and Lee University
Chris Morgan, California Baptist University
Elyce C. Morris, Faulkner University Jones School of Law
Max Perry Mueller, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln A. Mullen, George Mason University
Miles S. Mullin II, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Stephen R. Munzer, University of California, Los Angeles
Napp Nazworth, The Christian Post
Brent F. Nelsen, Furman University
Leonard J. Nelson,III, Samford University
Mark T. Nelson, Westmont College
Joel A. Nichols, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Jeremy Norwood, Spring Arbor University
John E. Noyes, California Western School of Law
Andy G. Olree, Faulkner University School of Law
David Onyon, Southwestern Assemblies of God University
David W. Opderbeck, Seton Hall University Law School
Paul Otto, George Fox University
Randall Pannell, North Greenville University
M. Sydney Park, Beeson Divinity School
James M. Patterson, Ave Maria University
Mikael L. Pelz, Calvin College
Samuel L. Perry, University of Oklahoma
Jonathan R. Peterson, North Park University
Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame
Otis W. Pickett, Mississippi College
John J. Pitney, Jr., Claremont McKenna College
Jeanne Petit, Hope College
Jeffrey Polet, Hope College
Richard Pointer, Westmont College
Trisha Posey, John Brown University
Kris Pratt, Spartanburg Methodist College
C. Scott Pryor, Campbell University School of Law
Jason Marc Pudlo, Oral Roberts University
Kevin Pybas, Missouri State University
Mark Regnerus, University of Texas at Austin
Charles J. Reid, Jr., University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
John C. Reitz, University of Iowa College of Law
Gloria Rhodes, Eastern Mennonite University
Gary E. Roberts, Regent University
Jessica Roseberry, Baylor University
Steven Alan Samson, Liberty University
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, G.L.O.B.A.L Justice
Dennis Sansom, Samford University
Shelley Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University School of Law
Jon D. Schaff, Northern State University
Stephen A. Shumaker, Colorado Christian University
William Skiles, Regent University
Brenda Thompson Schoolfield, Bob Jones University
John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University
Robert F. Schwarzwalder, Jr., Regent University
Timothy Samuel Shah, Georgetown University
Jacob Shatzer, Union University
Stephen Shaw, Northwest Nazarene University
Gregory Sisk, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin College
Brian A. Smith, Montclair State University
Gary Scott Smith, Grove City College
Sarah A. Morgan Smith, The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University
Stephen F. Smith, Notre Dame Law School
Chris Soper, Pepperdine University
Miles Smith, Regent University
Andrew Spiropoulos, Oklahoma City University School of Law
Susan J. Stabile, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Stephen T. Staggs, Calvin College
Richard Stith, Valparaiso University Law School
Stephen M. Stookey, Wayland Baptist University
Charles Strauss, Mount St Mary’s University
Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Justin Taylor, Crossway Books
Boz Tchividjian, Liberty University School Law
H. Paul Thompson, Jr., North Greenville University
Warren Throckmorton, Grove City College
Benjamin Toll, Lake Superior State University
Noah J. Toly, Wheaton College
Christa B. Tooley, Wheaton College
David Torbett, Marietta College
Ted Turnau, Anglo-American University, Prague, Czech Republic
John Turner, George Mason University
Andrea L. Turpin, Baylor University
Fred Van Geest, Bethel University
Patrick Van Inwegen, Whitworth University
Ashish Varma, Moody Bible Institute
Caleb Verbois, Grove City College
John R. Vile, Middle Tennessee State University
Danielle Vinson, Furman University
Robert K. Vischer, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Hans P. Vought, SUNY-Ulster
Jeffrey C. Waddington, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Scott A. Waller, Biola University
Jennifer E. Walsh, Azusa Pacific University
Jerold Waltman, Baylor University
Micah Watson, Calvin College
William C. Watson, Colorado Christian University
Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt, Covenant College
Eddie Weller, San Jacinto College
Geoff Wells, Wayland Baptist University
Thomas White, Cedarville University
Virgil Wiebe, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Peter W. Wielhouwer, Western Michigan University
John Wigger, University of Missouri
Jeffrey A. Wilcox, Bethel University (TN)
Daniel K. Williams, University of West Georgia
Thaddeus Williams, Talbot School of Theology
Robert D. Woodberry, Baylor University
James E. Wren, Baylor Law School
George Yancey, University of North Texas
Paul D. Yandle, North Greenville University
Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
John C. Yoder, Whitworth University
Dan Young, Northwestern College (Iowa)