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Liberal (Progressive) Pastors Sign Declaration Against Christian Nationalism

By Sarah Wagner – April 10, 2024

A group of pastors gathered at Yale Divinity School’s Center for Public Theology and Public Policy in New Haven, Connecticut, to sign a declaration opposing “religious nationalism.”

The declaration was part of Yale Divinity School’s Public Theology and Public Policy Conference.

In the declaration, pastors claimed Christian nationalism is a “political movement.”

“We love this nation, and for this reason we have gathered to reflect on our public engagement as both an act of love and a pastoral responsibility. We know that a well-funded, coordinated political movement has co-opted our faith tradition and is exploiting so-called ‘traditional values’ to undermine democracy and divide people across this land,” the declaration said. “This distorted religious nationalism has persuaded many well-meaning Christians to focus on a narrow set of divisive cultural wedge issues while ignoring the real moral issues that are at the heart of our Scriptures and tradition.”

Such “distortion” has led the pastors to “repent.”

“We repent of not doing more to preach and teach against this misuse of our faith, and we pledge to proclaim in word and deed a public theology that is good news for all people,” they wrote.

The declaration’s authors called for religious leaders to “launch a season of preaching the moral issues of living wages and union rights, healthcare and ecological justice, an end to the spilling of innocent blood, a re-imagination of criminal justice, and the protection and expansion of voting rights and equal protection guarantees.”

According to the pastors, these issues are critical “moral and spiritual” matters for the 2024 presidential election.

The signers of the declaration include Bishop William J. Barber, II, the Founding Director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy; Min. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the Assistant Director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy; Yale Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling; Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, the General Minister and President of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada; Presiding Bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Yvette Flunder; Rev. Sofía Betancourt, Ph.D., the President of Unitarian Universalists Association; Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D., Senior Minister & Public Theologian, Middle Church; Director of the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr.; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Rev. Dr. Richard H. Lowery; Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D., with Columbia University; Swope Parkway United Christian Church Disciples of Christ Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams; Shane Claiborne of Red Letter Christians; and Willie James Jennings of Yale Divinity School.

Barber previously met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss wages.

“Today, I met with Rev. Dr. William Barber to thank him for his years of work to raise wages and end poverty,” Harris wrote on X following the meeting. “President Biden and I know: We have a duty to ensure workers across our nation are treated with dignity and that all families have the opportunity to thrive.”

The declaration comes as left-leaning Christians have condemned the joint love of God and country, with one Texas Democrat accusing Christian nationalists of “betraying Jesus.”

“Three years ago, Christian nationalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, killing police officers while carrying crosses and signs reading, ‘Jesus saves,’” Texas state lawmaker James Talarico (D) said. “Two years ago, Christian nationalists on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states like ours to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest. And as we speak, Christian nationalist billionaires are attempting to dismantle public education in the state of Texas and therefore dismantle democracy.”

“Let me be clear, there is nothing Christian about Christian nationalism,” Talarico stated. “It is the worship of power — political power, social power, economic power in the name of Christ, and it is a betrayal of Jesus of Nazareth,” he said. “Jesus never asked us to kill police officers. Jesus never asked us to ban books, silence teachers or defund schools. Jesus never asked us to control women’s bodies. Jesus never asked us to establish a Christian theocracy.”

“All he asked was that we love thy neighbor. Not just our Christian neighbors, not just our straight neighbors, not just our male neighbors, not just our white neighbors, not just our rich neighbors,” the Democrat noted. “We are called to love all of our neighbors, and that is exactly the opposite of what Christian nationalism does in the world.”

In February, Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla appeared on MSNBC, claiming that the beliefs of “Christian nationalists” are a problem, namely, their belief that rights come from God.

“The one thing that unites all of them … as Christian nationalists – not Christians by the way, because Christian nationalist is very different – is that they believe that our rights as Americans, as all human beings, don’t come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress. They don’t come to the Supreme Court. They come from God.”

She added that “men” are “determining what God is telling them,” which is to stand against abortion, gay marriage, and other progressive issues.

American Faith