January 13, 2021
As individual leaders within the Christian Church in the Southwest, we worked together to prepare this message. We do not present ourselves as speaking for the churches in the Region. This is a word to the churches in the Region.
On Wednesday, January 6, a large crowd numbering in the thousands charged into the United States Capitol and sought to interrupt the Congressional certification of the U.S. Presidential election. They were reportedly motivated by claims of voter fraud-claims that have been argued in the courts and consistently dismissed. Discontent with legal means to challenge and protest this election, rioters used illegal means to disrupt the orderly movement of democracy. They entered the congressional chambers intent on doing bodily harm to elected officials. Invaded hallowed space carrying Molotov cocktails, explosive devices, and zip ties with chants of hanging the Vice President. As a result, at least five people have died.
We believe that words and symbols have strength to persuade and motivate people to action. In this case the words and actions of the President of the United States along with other political leaders, incited insurrection against the Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government which resulted in a large throng of citizens responding to this present transition with violence. Many of us were horrified to see Christian symbols and the name of Jesus mingled with symbols of hatred, chaos, and destruction.
Over 200 years ago, the federal government was chartered for among other purposes "to establish Justice" and "insure domestic Tranquility." These purposes were subverted in tragic ways on January 6. One of the treasured components of United States democracy-the peaceful transition of power-was discarded and an attempted insurrection took its place.
As Christians, we proclaim God's forgiveness and grace. Yet, we also recognize that when we ignore the criminal acts, we do a disservice to everyone including perpetrators of injustice. Accountability for wrongdoing and consequences for crimes are essential elements of civilized society. Civic leaders whose political rhetoric to incite violence should either repent or resign. And those whose words and actions enacted the destructive assault on democracy on Wednesday, January 6 must account for their crimes.
Furthermore, the dismantling of racism is an essential consequence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot sit idly by when symbols of slavery, like the Confederate Battle Flag, and celebrations of genocide like Neo-Nazi propaganda are on display. The right of persons to express such beliefs may be protected. However, such beliefs cannot go unrefuted and they ought never be confused for Christian proclamation.
As Disciples we must always honor the Imago Dei in all of God's people. The brutality exhibited against the participants of the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations stands in stark contrast to the tepid response on display at the Capitol. It is also our belief that had the crowd been comprised of people of color, the response to them would have been vastly, tragically different.
The ideology expressed with such ferocity and bloodshed by the mob at the Capitol is untenable. The fact that the expression of it was instigated by the president and his enablers is absolutely heinous and must never go unrefuted. Nor should it be confused for Christian proclamation.
Certainly, many leaders both in the Church and in Government will need to do significant work to repair the damage done on January 6.
Andy Mangum, CCSW Regional Minister and President
Christy Drechsel, CCSW Regional Executive Minister and Vice-President
Peggy Edge, CCSW Community Regional Minister for Adult Ministries & Leadership Development
Hector Morales, CCSW Community Regional Minister for Hispanic Ministries
Heather Reed, CCSW Community Regional Minister for Children and Youth
David Hargrave, CCSW Interim Connection Minister, East Texas
Kim Fields-Haley, CCSW Interim Connection Minister, New Mexico and El Paso.
Christal Fisher, CCSW Interim Connection Minister, South-Central Texas
Bonnie Schuler, CCSW Regional Registrar
Anna Facundo, CCSW Bi-Lingual Assistant Registrar
Nathaniel Cook, CCSW Director of Communication
Andy Brink, Regional Moderator
Tracey Anderson-Tellado, Moderator-Elect
Raymond Morgan, Regional Treasurer
William Smith, Regional Secretary
Alfred Walker, CCSW Reconciliation Committee Convener
Tera Brown-Daniels, CCSW Reconciliation Committee Member
Megan Peglar, CCSW Reconciliation Committee Member
Tanya Tyler, CCSW Reconciliation Committee Member
Follow-up note from the Region:
In the 24 hours since individual leaders from the Christian Church in the Southwest sent out a response [the letter above] to January 6, we have received some significant response from around the Region. While many of the responses were affirming, others raised important concerns and objections. We believe in open, healthy dialogue. So, in that spirit we thought it good to share with you some of those responses.
One significant leader in our Region granted us permission to circulate his thoughts as we felt appropriate and his letter is below. In addition to Rev. Rawlins's letter we had others who felt that the letter was partisan and that similar riotous acts over the past year had not received the same call to repentance. Others critiqued assertions that use legally-weighted language. For instance, saying that the President's speech incited the riot is an assertion that has not been proven and legal minds have weighed in to say that the President's speech on that Wednesday morning did not meet the legal standard of inciting a riot. Others pointed out that to say the courts "dismissed" the lawsuits is not a legally accurate statement across the board given how the courts handled or chose not to handle various cases.
Finally, here is the letter we received from Rev. Jim Rawlins:
Where was the outrage over the last nine months when people were killed, injured and their businesses burnt down? Where was your outrage when Justice Kavanaugh was being sworn in and crowds were trying to break into the Capitol Building? Where was your outrage when Senator Scalise was gunned down during a baseball game? Where will be your outrage when all that President Trump has done for Right-To-Life will be reversed in the next administration and countless of the most innocent will be killed. Where will be your outrage when a pastor's right to speak from Scripture is restricted in the next administration.
I have kept my mouth shut until now, but you go too far. ... I am so disappointed in this declaration. You basically lump any Conservative with white-hooded night riders (and if you know your history, they were Democrats). You have jumped on a bandwagon of hate yourself and by declaring this, you are disenfranchising a large portion of this Church body. Once again, you will drive away participants from the DOC by your Pharisaical, judgmental, highbrowish stand.
Would it have hurt you to just say "let us stand for peace and unity while remembering the One and only True God is our Sovereign". Is that not something we could all stand behind????!!!!
Pastor Jim Rawlins
Congregational Leaders in the Christian Church in the Southwest are asked to participate in a region-wide conversation (via zoom) tomorrow, Saturday, January 16th for a time of prayer and next-steps conversation.
RRCC Elders and Guiding Board members have been invited to participate.
If you are interested, please contact Rev. Maxted for the zoom link.