Scott Arbeiter is the president of World Relief, a major evangelical ministry serving refugees and working on relief and development in more than 20 countries.
To my brothers and sisters victimized by white supremacy:
This past weekend you had to endure, yet again, the hateful and sinful words and actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Sadly, what happened in Charlottesville is not new for you. While it has shocked the nation, you have faced such hatred, violence and anti-Semitism for generations. It is unspeakably wrong in any place and at any time
In not swiftly and unequivocally condemning the actions of the white supremacists who gave voice to evil and incited violence in Charlottesville, President Trump has failed to show moral clarity or courage. I continue to pray for our president, but I do so with a heavy heart.
Brothers and sisters, I choose to stand alongside you, proudly and with deep resolve.
I am angry.
This week, one of our staffers, a bright and passionate young African American woman, told me that on Sunday she sat in her pew at church and cried. She asked herself, “Why do these people still hate me so much?” She said, “I know I need to love them in spite of this.”
I am outraged at those who would break her heart and deny her dignity solely on the basis of the color of her skin.
To my African American brothers and sisters: I am grieved and angry that once again, bigoted people are using violence and hatred to deny you opportunity, equality and dignity.
To my Jewish brothers and sisters: I am angry and burdened by the anti-Semitic chants and violence in Charlottesville. For centuries, the Jewish community has endured such persecution and hatred. This supremacist ideology is evil; it destroys our humanity, and it must stop.
To my refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters: For many decades, we at World Relief have had the privilege of walking alongside you in your journey toward a safe and productive life in America from the countless backgrounds and cultures you bring with you. You have taught us so much about dignity, love, forgiveness and sheer grit, as you overcome the injury and injustice of systems that were designed to limit and diminish you.
To all those marginalized by the hate, violence and oppression of white supremacists: I am angry that some of those who attack you do so under the guise that they are Christian. Do they not know that Jesus was a man with olive skin from the Middle East? Do they not know that God in his creativity, love and wisdom created the peoples and nations with delight?
Claiming the supremacy of any race is an affront to God.
I am ashamed.
This malignant racism has lingered far too long. In white churches across America, we have told ourselves that we have made great strides, but this has proved untrue.
We white Christian leaders and pastors must acknowledge our unintended but clear complicity in this. I am convicted of this on a personal level. In my years as a pastor, I have said too little, acted too feebly and loved too weakly. I humbly ask you for forgiveness.
It is time for repentance, because our silence and lack of solidarity with the marginalized is a rejection of the core of our gospel. Our silence creates and protects the environment in which hatred grows and is quietly appeased.
Our repentance must not be at a distance. It must be personal and rooted in a deep sense of the offense. In the end, the depth of our healing and the extent of our courage will be only as great as the fullness of our repentance.
I pray God will grant us all grace to see more clearly and act more boldly in naming and fighting against the sins that cripple our nation.
I am committed.
It has been our calling at World Relief to “empower the church to serve the most vulnerable.” We have done this with passion and a sense of deep privilege around the world over many decades. We are committed to continuing, and we also recognize that our challenge is greater in our own nation than we have previously understood.
With this in mind, chief executive Tim Breene and I, along with our entire leadership team, pledge to support and strengthen the voices of many millions of Americans who reject the hatred of the white supremacists. We will do so in our practical ministry and through our relationships. We will do so in our advocacy for just laws and our rejection of unjust systems that perpetuate poverty, exclusion and bigotry. And we will do so in our partnership with thousands of pastors in our network and beyond, calling them to also act with renewed moral clarity and courage.
We are grieved that once again you bear this pain and indignity. It is our privilege to stand with you even as we learn from you.