I know many of you are still reeling from last week’s election results. When Sojourners put out the call for you to tell us your post-election stories, we found ourselves tapping into a deep well of lament. Your stunning Reader Stories put on display the real feelings of people across the country — fears felt by ethnic minorities, Muslims, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, those struggling with their faith and on and on.
This campaign made often implicit ugly racial and gender views explicit; it lifted up dangerous things that are often covert and made them overt. Both fear and anger are deep in America now, especially among people who belong to groups who were targeted and maligned during the election campaign. They wonder if the America President-elect Trump wants to make “great again” includes them.
The election revealed the deep racial divide in America with a majority of white voters — of all economic levels, genders, and even religions — going for Trump. The media’s new focus on the genuine grievances of the forgotten white voters painfully reveals its own continuing racial bias in its lack of focus on whole communities of color who continue to be forgotten and left behind. White people who dismiss the real fears parents of color have for their children reveal how disconnected they are from those families. America’s Original Sin clearly still lingers in America, and the repentance of that sin clearly calls upon us to replace white identity with faith identity — the reversal of what happened in this election among the majority of white voters who voted together as a tribe.
We know you are fearful. We know you are still feeling the loss — the loss of a hoped for America that valued diversity, or perhaps the loss of your faith community whose white majority voted for an embodiment of our worst natures.
But we also know that you are ready to resist. You are ready to join the millions who will repeat daily that this ugly rhetoric and dangerous policy proposals cannot become normalized. Racism should not continue as normal, misogyny can’t remain normal, and threatening the well-being of those God calls us to welcome cannot become normal.
And so we make this commitment to you: We at Sojourners are all in for whatever is required over the next four years and beyond, as a publication, as a resource, as a community, as a network of activists. Here’s how we get started.
1. We will go deeper in faith.
Our times require a moral compass. We must replace certainty with reflection. Go from simply belief to actual practice. Seek both courage and humility. Read, study, and live the words of Jesus. Replace white identity with faith identity. Replace nativist religion with multiethnic and international faith. As the prophet Micah said, “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”
2. We will lift up truth.
Sojourners will always replace fear with facts when it comes to public discussions about immigrants, refugees, Muslims, racial diversity, and national security. Multiracial truth-telling about race in America is urgently needed as we move to a new demographic future where America will no longer be a white majority nation. Sojourners will always lift up the voices of these communities so that they can share their own stories.
3. We will reject White Nationalism.
We will name racism and xenophobia as sins against our neighbors and against the God who made us all in God’s image. We all must move the nation forward and not backward. Affirm diversity as a gift, blessing, and great opportunity for our nation — and reject the language of threats. Inclusion means full participation.
4. We will love our neighbors by protecting them from hate speech and attacks.
We will act in support of people who belong to groups who are afraid because they have been targeted, especially standing with parents who are worried about the safety of their children of color. We all must watch, report, and confront hate speech and behavior — against all ethnic and religious groups, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and all marginalized groups — and surround people being attacked with supportive community. White supremacist groups who are celebrating the results of this election need to be identified, isolated, and prosecuted.
5. We will welcome the stranger, as our Scriptures instruct.
We will block, interfere, and obstruct the mass deportations of immigrants who are law-abiding and hard-working members of our communities. We all must accompany, advocate for, and invite immigrants and their families into our faith families and congregations when they become vulnerable. We will provide opportunities to call on local elected officials and law enforcement officers not to participate in rounding up immigrants — in the name of public safety and family protection — and, if necessary, force federal enforcement police to arrest immigrant families in our churches, instead of at their homes alone.
6. We will expose and oppose racial profiling in policing.
We will reach out to our local police departments to make that commitment clear from the faith community. If the Justice Department and the White House no longer hold police departments accountable to obey the law in relationship to people of color, we all must take on that role in our religious communities. Local ecumenical and interfaith clergy councils should meet with sheriffs and police chiefs in local communities for an open dialogue with them. We will offer resources to study together the important report of the Presidential Commission on 21st Century Policing, and help work with them to implement it. We must make it clear that local faith communities promise to watch and monitor the relationship of our police to our communities.
7. We will defend religious liberty.
We will defy the defamation and banning of Muslims. We all must embrace Muslims as fellow Americans and protect them from the fears of attack, protect mosques with congregational solidarity, and protect national security with our Muslim fellow citizens. We must also resist anti-Semitism as part of the White Nationalism on the rise. If the registration of Muslims is called for, as has been suggested, Christians and Jews will join the registration lines.
8. We will work to end the misogyny that enables rape culture.
We will make every effort to replace misogyny with mutual respect. The language against women that was used in this presidential campaign must be completely rejected. We will name sexual assault for what it is: a sin and a crime. It must be exposed and resisted on every level of our society. Gender fairness and equality must be a fundamental principle in our workplaces, schools, and political systems.
9. We will protest with our best values.
We will defend constitutional values and workplace fairness, and fight for climate justice and environmental protection as we serve as stewards of our land. Whether in our streets, our schools or our workplaces — we will provide resources and opportunities to protest with dignity, discipline, and non-violence, not with hate for hate. We will respect the Constitution and our democratic processes and expect the same from this new administration. But if those procedures are violated, we must not be silent.
10. We will listen.
The nation is more divided and polarized than most of us can remember at any time in our lifetimes. So we will listen to you and we can all listen to each other if we desire healing — and we all should. Our congregations must become safe and sacred spaces for hearing each other’s stories, pains, fears, and hopes — as people who want many of the same things for our families and children. Our educational institutions should also be such safe spaces for dialogue, learning the meaning of the diversity and pluralism that is America’s best future.
We make these commitments to you, and with you. The days and weeks and years ahead will require much of us. Sojourners will be here to provide sustenance for the journey, resources for study, and opportunities for prayerful resistance and action. Everything isn’t going to be all right, but we will stick together, sustain each other, and mobilize our energy, time, and resources, to protect the people, values, and commitments we care most about. We will move forward together.
We are in— are you?
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, is available now.