In the wake of the violence that took place in Charlottesville Saturday, many leaders in the Christian community spoke out against racism, and called on Christians to pray for unity and peace.
Protests led by white supremacist groups, and counter-protests that also took place, led to violent clashes in Charlottesville on Saturday. Later in the day, a car driven by a white nationalist protester rammed into a counter-protesting crowd, killing one and injuring 19.
President Trump had faced criticism over the weekend for not explicitly condemning the white nationalist movement following the violent events. His first statement condemned hatred “on many sides.” Then on Monday, his prepared statement pointed to “the KKK, the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups” as “repugnant.”
Meanwhile, many Christian leaders took to the social media and news platforms to speak out against the violence. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote a column for the Washington Post in which he strongly denounced white supremacy.
“This sort of ethnic nationalism and racial superiority ought to matter to every Christian, regardless of national, ethnic, or racial background,” stated Moore. “The church should call white supremacy what it is: terrorism, but more than terrorism. White supremacy is Satanism. Even worse, white supremacy is a devil-worship that often pretends it is speaking for God.”
“The racism and hate being spewed by the alt-right and white supremacists, that have invaded our state this weekend, is an insult to Christianity and our country,” stated Tony Suarez, the vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and one of Trump’s evangelical advisers.
Many other of Trump’s evangelical advisers spoke out. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, said he believes “it’s important on a day like this that we stand together as a church … to say in the strongest terms possible that we condemn any sort of racial bigotry, white supremacy, prejudice, and intolerance.”
Jemar Tisby, president of the Reformed African American Network, wrote in an opinion piece on the Washington Post that “the church remains instrumental in dismantling the racial caste system in America.” Yet, he added, action on the part of white pastors is crucial.
“No one likes to be pressured into speaking about injustice. You want to do it from your own conviction. I get it. I really do,” wrote Tisby. “Just know that the time has never been more urgent for white Christians, pastors in particular, to decry white supremacy today.”