The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is deeply troubled by the increase in racist rhetoric, threats, and actions leveled against churches, especially Black churches, leading up to and now in the aftermath of the 2020 election results. Some prominent elected officials have stoked these upticks in hatred and division with racist innuendo and their refusal to accept election results pointing to mostly Black cities as areas where “illegal” votes were cast, none of which is true. These false claims have led to threats against churches that are a part of the NCC family, including Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta; and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Luther Place Memorial Church, and National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. We unequivocally denounce and forcefully condemn these threats, harassment and racist actions that led to people being stabbed during protests in the District last weekend.
After receiving hate mail and phone calls as well as an increase in malicious comments and harassment on their social media platforms, Ebenezer Baptist Church made an announcement that “Individuals holding hate in their hearts for our Church are coming into our digital spaces and leaving disparaging and often blatantly racist comments, many of which, unfortunately, are directed at our Church’s Senior Pastor.” Since 2005, the Reverend Dr. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock has served as the Senior Pastor. He is currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate and was a member of the NCC’s Justice and Advocacy Commission and was the chair of the Social Justice Commission for the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
NCC agrees with Ebenezer Baptist Church when they state, “The tactics are destined to divide, distract, and exhaust us … and hate will not prevail.”
No church should be receiving racist threats and no church should have to increase the presence of security personnel, but it is particularly painful knowing Ebenezer Baptist Church’s past. Until he was assassinated in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was co-pastor of Ebenezer with his father, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and his funeral was held in the church. In 1974 Alberta Christine Williams King, Rev. King Jr.’s mother and the wife of Rev. King Sr., was shot as she played the organ during Sunday services at Ebenezer and died from the shooting at the age of 70. Although the shooting was not racially motivated, the trauma from the incident nevertheless impacted the church and surrounding community.
During weekend protests in the District by those supporting President Trump, including the Proud Boys, a recognized white supremacist hate group, churches were vandalized, and Black Lives Matter signs destroyed and burned on the property of several churches. A “Black Lives Matter” sign in front of Asbury United Methodist Church, a predominantly Black congregation, was burned reminiscent of cross burnings of years past. However, the acts of terror did not stop there. Signs in support of Black lives in front of the historic Metropolitan AME Church, National City Christian Church, and Luther Place Memorial Church were also destroyed.
“This is unacceptable behavior and it must end,” stated Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Counsel, “As the special Jan. 5th election for the U.S. Senate races in Georgia approach and the false narratives about illegal votes and a stolen election continue, more demonstrations are planned by these groups and the threats, racial vitriol, and acts of violence continue. They must stop. Our faith demands that we speak out against these horrific acts and urge all people of faith and good will to do the same.”
NCC will participate in and stand with Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. on Friday, December 17, 2020 at 10 a.m. ET as they bless and re-hang a new Black Lives Matter sign in front of the church and hold a Prayer Service.
NCC firmly believes that American society needs to be transformed and is committed to eradicating White supremacy as it has been laid bare in these converging crises of global pandemic, economic downturn, racial reckoning, and surge of White nationalism.
We call upon all the churches associated with the NCC to express solidarity with Ebenezer Baptist Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Metropolitan AME Church, National City Christian Church, and Luther Place Memorial Church, and lift the congregations in prayer.
At the same time NCC asks every American to condemn these acts of aggression and racial vitriol, and work to transform our society’s policies to bring justice to all.
We express our hope that anti-racism campaigns will rise above these expressions of hatred and that denials of the root causes of White nationalism will be forever cast aside and a new transformed society, where the pain felt by the oppressed and the oppressors, is eradicated. Especially now, during the season of Advent, we know that light penetrates the darkness and love will prevail against the hate of racism.