Evangelical leaders urge Donald Trump to condemn ‘alt-right’ as ‘racist’ and ‘evil’

Posted by DanielS on Monday, 02 October 2017 07:20.

Independent, “Evangelical leaders urge Donald Trump to condemn ‘alt-right’ as ‘racist’ and ‘evil”, 30 Sept 2017:

‘White supremacy cannot be dismissed with moral ambivalence,’ religious leaders warn



Faith leaders place their hands on the shoulders of Donald Trump as he takes part in a prayer for those affected by Hurricane Harvey earlier this month (Reuters)

Dozens of evangelical leaders have signed an open letter pressing Donald Trump to condemn the “alt-right” as “evil”.

After a car slammed into protesters decrying a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Mr Trump faced a tsunami of criticism for repeatedly equating the counter-demonstrators with neo-Nazis. While Mr Trump did later issue a statement and sign a resolution blasting bigotry and singling out groups like the KKK, detractors said he missed an opportunity to make a clear moral distinction.

The letter, endorsed by dozens of religious figures, urges Mr Trump to take a stand by specifically repudiating the “alt-right”, a term that refers to a constellation of beliefs that assail diversity and celebrate America’s white European heritage. Emboldened champions of the white nationalist movement have become more visible and vocal since Mr Trump’s rise.
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Lamenting that “our nation remains divided racially and ideologically”, the letter rejects the “alt-right” as a “white identity movement”, noting that “the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists” and cautioning that “white supremacy cannot be dismissed with moral ambivalence”.

“This movement has escaped your disapproval,” the letter warns, calling on Mr Trump to “join with many other political and religious leaders to proclaim with one voice that the ‘alt-right’ is racist, evil, and antithetical to a well-ordered, peaceful society”.

“We fear that without moral clarity and courageous leadership that consistently denounces all forms of racism, we may lose the ground that we have gained toward the racial unity for which so many of us have fought,” the letter says.

“It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House,” the letter adds. It does not specifically name anyone, but former White House adviser Steve Bannon rose to prominence by running the far-right website Breitbart.

American religious institutions have been divided over how to respond to rising white nationalism. Earlier this year, the Southern Baptists agreed on a statement calling “alt-right white supremacy…antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ” after the church’s annual convention initially declined to take up a resolution addressing the matter.

Evangelical Christians, a force in American politics, have typically supported Republican presidential candidates. Mr Trump largely won their backing despite having been married three times, frequently using vulgar language and repeatedly demeaning - and boasting about harassing - women.

Some evangelicals justified their support by pointing to Mr Trump’s ability to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court by filling a vacancy, which would help them realise a longstanding goal of restricting or outlawing abortion access.

While numerous business leaders fled councils advising Mr Trump in light of the President’s Charlottesville remarks, he did not prompt a mass exodus of evangelicals. At least one pastor did resign.



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