From Christians worldwide, Capitol insurrection draws outrage, prayers for America
Faith leaders worldwide shared words of outrage and prayers of concern after an armed mob overran the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
Among them were close global and U.S. partners of the United Church of Christ.
In a statement posted at its website as the insurrection unfolded, the National Council of Churches quoted Psalm 7, including the words “evil,” “mischief,” “lies” and “violence.”
The NCC, with 38 member denominations, including the UCC, said it “condemns and repudiates the actions of pro-Trump protesters today.”
“While we support nonviolent protests, and have often organized and participated in them, demonstrators desecrating the Capitol and disrupting our fair democratic process cannot be tolerated or go unpunished,” the statement said.
And the NCC blamed the president: “We are deeply concerned by President Trump’s efforts to remain in power that have led to today’s violence. We fervently denounce President Trump for the role he has played in provoking this situation by encouraging and attending a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally earlier today, continuing to lie about the results of the election and refusing to concede and accept the election’s outcome.”
‘A threat to our democracy’
“The right to assemble and the right to free speech are enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but this is neither,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in a video that same afternoon. “Nor is it a protest. This is not only breaking the law, but it is threat to our democracy.”
“We pray for all of our ecumenical partners nearby, as well as our inter-religious colleagues,” Eaton said. “This is a time for us to stand together and to speak out. Enough is enough.” Her video was shared by YouTube, Twitter and Facebook the afternoon of Jan. 6.
“It was also a visible and chilling reminder of the presence, the insidious presence, of white supremacy in the United States,” said the Rev. Terri Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Her video was recorded Jan. 6 and posted on YouTube and Facebook Jan. 7.
“If Black people were storming the U.S. Capitol, with or without guns, we would be dead by now,” Hord Owens said. “As many have pointed out, this is an example of white privilege and the supremacy that exists that such extreme actions were even being undertaken and with such minimal resistance. No matter your politics, we’ve lost our moral compass as a nation and we have to get really clear about what is morally right and how the Constitution of the United States works.”
‘Serious international concern’
It was nightime in Europe when the mob struck in Washington, but by early morning Jan. 7 a response had come from the World Council of Churches, with headquarters in Geneva.
“The divisive populist politics of recent years have unleashed forces that threaten the foundations of democracy in the United States and—to the extent that it represents an example to other countries—in the wider world,” said the Rev. Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary of the WCC. “Accordingly, these developments have implications far beyond domestic American politics and are of serious international concern.”
The WCC also posted, via its website and social media, a compilation of statements it had gathered from North America and beyond. They represented varied traditions: Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Jewish and more. UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer’s Jan. 6 call to prayer was among them, along with concerns expressed by its partner members in the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
“What happened in Washington today is wrong and shameful,” said the Rev. Eddy Alemán, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. “This direct attack on democracy is not godly. Join me in continuing to pray for the United States, for its elected officials, for its residents and citizens, and for a peaceful transition of government.”
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