President Mark Labberton and Associate Dean Clifton Clarke sent out this message earlier this week on recent events in Charlottesville.
Dr. Clarke and I joined many in our extended networks in immediately denouncing on social media the violent racism on display last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am aware that, for many in Fuller’s extended network, Facebook is not a primary form of communication, and I wanted to extend to you as well a distillation of our shared perspectives on this critically important issue.
The evil of racism so vividly unveiled in Charlottesville last weekend is tragically intertwined with American church history. But it needs to be said that nothing about white nationalism flows from the heart of God. May white—and all—followers of Jesus say and live a resounding NO to any form of white nationalism. As urgent as it is and must be for all Christians to condemn white nationalism, it is also urgent and necessary for white Christians like me to grasp, to repent of, and to turn from the long history by which our Christian faith has been used to accrue to us personal and systemic power and privilege simply because we are white.
Events of last weekend in Charlottesville cry out for the need of white Christians to look at this pervasive and insidious evil that subverts the Jesus we claim and profess. By our racial sin, the name of Jesus is scandalized. We recently welcomed Clifton Clarke to Fuller to partner with us in leadership of the Pannell Center for African American Church Studies, and I personally am committed to standing together with Dr. Clarke in this, our shared mission.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
We need to unequivocally speak in plain terms stating that white supremacist neo-fascist Nazi groups are an evil scourge in this country. White nationalism, white supremacy, white privilege, white silence, and racial fragility all drink from the same pot—the maintenance of white privilege.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” What we saw in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12 was the hate that hate produces. In the hours immediately after the Charlottesville riots, I called for white evangelical leaders to swiftly respond and for white people of conscience to speak out about white privilege. I thank my brother Mark for his leadership and courage in having already joined me in denouncing the extreme, white supremacist, male-dominated groups in America who are heirs of those hate groups emboldened by the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
The chilling images of hate-filled protesters in 2017 America carrying torches, chanting slogans steeped in the history of bigotry, racism, and anti-Semitism is an affront to our faith in Jesus Christ and the biblical teachings we hold dear. We, the Fuller community, reaffirm our unshakable commitment to diversity, equality, and the value of all people created in the image of God.
This partnership is why I came to Fuller, and I am committed to standing together with Dr. Labberton in this, our shared mission.
Committed to the love that love produces,
Associate Dean of the William Pannell Center for African American Church Studies and Associate Professor of Black Church Studies and World Christianity