Major elements of the historical Black freedom struggle – from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights
Movement – expressed a deep faith in the liberation God made fully known in Jesus Christ and
witnessed to in the Bible. Today, our country is deeply divided in ways that are unhelpful and
frustrating for those wanting to live out a faithful public witness. In the legacy of Black social
action, our current circumstances call for Christians who believe in the authority of Scripture and
care deeply about social justice to reassert our public witness by speaking into the moment at
hand. This unique and time-tested approach to civic engagement is much needed in American
One of the defining features of any true democracy is an open and inclusive public square. The
civic landscape ought not be the playground of gilded oligarchs or ideological warlords, but
rather an arena that equalizes the voices of the powerful and the powerless. It ought to be a
space where ballots, debates, and advocacy allow good ideas to flourish and where bad ideas
are dismantled and laid to rest. Justice thrives when honest scales weigh mainstream and
marginalized points of view with reciprocated respect and thoughtful critique.
Pursuing this civic ideal demands that judges, legislators, and executive officials work diligently
to ensure all people are accounted for and treated with dignity. That said, the obligations of
democracy don’t merely fall on governing officials. An equal or greater duty lies with citizens to
organize and assert themselves constructively in the public square. The people must participate
in democracy thoughtfully, speak up intently, and seek to persuade rather than compel their
neighbors. Citizens must also hold their leaders accountable without partiality. This statement is
a call to the Church to rise to these civic obligations.
Accordingly, we, the undersigned faith leaders, are committed to continuing in the tradition of
our forebears’ public witness by demonstrating God’s love through the liberation of all people
and pursuing God’s wisdom through moral law. The Church’s voice must not be outsourced to
the political Left or Right, nor should its prophetic zeal be muzzled by the allure of political
power. Our allegiance to the authority of Scripture and the compassion and conviction of Jesus
Christ is greater than our commitment to any political party or ideology. We stand against hate
and the permissive cultural trends that scoff at absolute truth.
As Frederick Douglass proclaimed, we will work with “anybody to do right and with nobody to do
wrong.” We’re committed to finding common cause with those who believe differently. The
common grace which God extends to humankind serves as a model for the common ground
forged in the cauldron of civic pluralism. It is our sacred duty and our firm intention to uphold
and continue the legacy Black Christian civic engagement and, with God’s help, to fight for its
righteously disruptive and corrective place in American civic discourse.