US bishops respond to Donald Trump's reported racist comments on Haiti and other countries

By Agencies
January 13, 2018

Bishops in the United States have issued responses to President Trump's reported remarks on Haiti and other countries.

The Rt Rev Marc Handley Andrus, US Episcopal Church Bishop of California:

"The Diocese of California has developed, since the Haiti earthquake of 2010, a close relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. The Diocese of Haiti is a full and equal member of the Episcopal Church, every bit as much a member of this religious family as California and every bit as much a member of our hemisphere as the United States. I personally have made six trips to Haiti to come to know, understand and work together with Haitians for their own rebuilding after the earthquake.
"Haiti, I have come to learn, is an admirable nation, a great people. The most lucrative slave colony in the Caribbean – so profitable because of the intense brutality used on first the Native Americans and then the African slaves brought in chains to work there – Haiti threw off its European overlords, the first successful slave rebellion since the classical Roman period. From that remarkable beginning in a crucible of revolution, Haiti has sought a path forward that inspired an African American priest to move to Haiti and become the first African American bishop in the Episcopal Church.
"I speak personally about Haiti today in light of President Trump’s unacceptable remarks about Haiti, but of course he did not confine his comments to Haiti alone, but slurred and insulted several other countries by name and many others by implication. Since I have been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, I have been holding up the resonant goal of the Beloved Community, invoked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote: 'Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community.' (1957)
"The Beloved Community is the community of the whole, all of God’s people, all of life. The Beloved Community is our ideal and in the Beloved Community all find welcome in the arms of our Savior. In the shadow our President’s remarks have cast, I call on all people of faith and good will to shine the light of the Beloved Community.
"Savior Christ, you pervade the whole world, your Father God contains the universe, the Holy Spirit holds all together with the power of love. Help us, we pray to live always in the light of this love and your presence, that the Beloved Community may be come to be for all of life. Give us the courage to stand against all that divides, degrades and dominates any and all of your children.

+Marc Andrus

 Elizabeth A, Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America::

"I am very disappointed and disturbed by the remarks that President Donald Trump is reported to have said yesterday – and confirmed by others who were present – in the context of a discussion about immigration. 

"Regardless of the context, references of that kind have no place in our civil discourse and, if true, reflect racist attitudes unbecoming any of us, but especially a president of the United States. 

"Instead, we should be fostering a world where each of us sees every person – regardless of race, origin, ethnicity, gender or economic status – in the image of God and, therefore, worthy of dignity and respect. Our church has relationships and partnerships with Christians and others on six continents. These are our sisters and brothers. We strive to accompany them and they us, across boundaries and cognizant of our diversity, yet all seeking the common good. In working for a healed, reconciled and just world, we all should faithfully strive to participate in God's reconciling work, which prioritizes disenfranchised, vulnerable and displaced people in our communities and the world, bearing witness – each of us – to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

 "We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization" —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

 God's peace,

Elizabeth A. Eaton

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the United Methodist Church Baltimore-Washington Conference:

On Monday, January 15, our country will again celebrate the work of Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. As we do so, we remember his prophetic words that, "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

With these words resounding in our hearts, it's hard to reconcile the reported statement of President Trump, who used racist and defamatory language to speak about Haiti and several African nations. With these statements, President Trump's fitness for office is no longer in question. One cannot lead while demonstrating blatant disregard and disrespect for entire segments of the population.

It does not matter that those disparaged are from another continent or country; the implied effect of disparaging individuals from Haiti or Africa, while extolling those from Norway, belies a disdain for persons of color. That is undeniable and unacceptable from the leader of the free world.

I cannot understand those who seek to justify his comments as "putting America first." We are first when we lead with decency and honor, equity, integrity and equality. We are not first when we espouse racism and bias, discrimination and inequality. That does not make us strong; rather, it makes us weak.

For those who are religious, humanists, patriots (in the truest sense of the term), or otherwise decent human beings, there can be no quarter for anyone practicing or supporting racism. Any form of hatred or bigotry that attempts to place a hierarchy on the value of human life is unacceptable.

As United Methodists, we embrace the Scriptural truths, which are also reiterated in Para. 3371 of our Book of Resolutions, that "All women and men are made in God's image and all persons are equally valuable in the sight of God. ... We must work toward a world in which each person's value is respected and nurtured."

But just noting our concern about racism and intolerance is not enough. We are a people of social holiness. As it states in Para. 5012 of the Book of Resolutions, "Scripture recognizes that faithfulness to God requires political engagement by the people of God. ... The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust."

As Americans, the office of the President warrants our respect. And, I do, in fact, respect that office. I respect it so much, that I demand the holder of that office conduct themselves with the utmost integrity. With these comments, as reported, that standard has not been met. Therefore, there is no room for silence or justification or equivocation or obfuscation.

We are called to choose decency, love, and justice. Words have power. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable for our words and the actions they inspire. I call upon all the members and churches of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to pray, and to act, so that justice and equality for all people stands as a guiding principle for our leaders and the law of our land. Let us be illuminated by love.

Your servant in Christ,

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling

* The Diocese of California http://diocal.org/* The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America http://www.elca.org/*  The United Methodist Church Baltimore-Washington Conference http://www.bwcumc.org/[Ekk/4] 


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