An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America Today

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​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.

Respectfully,

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)

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