January 7, 2021

What are People of Faith to Do? By Forrest E. Harris, Sr., President

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 was a sad day for Americans, and for America’s democratic values as the world witnessed an insurrectionist attempt to disrupt the work of a joint session of Congress to validate the results of the 2020 presidential election.  

An angry mob of domestic terrorists, emboldened anarchists sieged the U.S. Capitol waving flags and symbols of white supremacy. A loyal base inspired by conspiracy theories of the sitting U.S. president carried out a seditious act against the American government, an act not seen since 1812. White militarism and nationalism was on display. It was a treasonous act, the culmination and manifestation of four years of racist rhetoric and reckless leadership reaching its zenith in abuse of power.

A warning by Cicero, Roman statesmen some 2000 years ago speaks to why America has seen the decline of civility, integrity, dignity in our nation and the increase of lawless nationalist violence. Cicero warned,

  “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor-He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation—he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city—he infests the body politics so that it can no longer resist.” 

These are dark days for our democracy. Arrests are being made of those responsible for the anarchist events. A presidential impeachment is a justice imperative to ensure future civility and branches of government never becomes a violent threat to the other.

Perhaps we are seeing the birth pangs of something new breaking forth in our society.

We must celebrate and be thankful that while the insurrection was occurring in Washington, the day before, in the deep south of republican conservatism, Georgians elected a Black Baptist pastor and a Jewish citizen, both from the spiritual home of Martin Luther King, to the U.S. Senate. Many persons of faith, black and white, particularly women worked tirelessly to elect Reverend Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff to the U.S. Senate to follow in the path of Congressman John Lewis. This result alongside of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris suggest divine providence is at work to bring the power of love and justice to bear on the nation’s politics. On January 20th, the inauguration of a new presidential administration and agenda will commence, with a Congress and Senate majority. 

We must do more than celebrate this new beginning. 

Christian faith calls us to more. Our faith calls us to a discipleship on the behalf of God’s justice for the common good, standing for the integrity of God’s creation and the dignity of all life. This moment calls us to renewal of faith in God’s reign of love and justice, and to put that faith on the front line to fight against all forms of hate, incivility, racism and oppression.

It is a mirror moment for Americans to own what the nation is and work for what we can become. 

It is a moment to let our discipleship and ministry imitate Jesus’ life and mandate to end a double standard of justice based on race, and to stand in solidarity with God’s compassion and love for humankind. It calls for bipartisanship, end idolatrous loyalties, to be in unity with all who love justice and democracy.

It is a moment to trust in God’s purpose with all our hearts and lean not to our own biases and limited understandings, but in all the ways of love and compassion allow God to direct our path toward beloved community.