PC(USA) leaders condemn white supremacy, racism

Charlottesville religious leaders praised; misuse of scripture decried

August 14, 2017



In the wake of a weekend of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia fomented by the “alt-right,” four top leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) today issued a statement condemning white supremacy and racism.

The leaders – General Assembly co-moderators Jan Edmiston and T. Denise Anderson, Presbyterian Mission Agency Interim Executive Director Tony De La Rosa, and General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II -- praised the “faithful witness” of church leaders, especially those in Charlottesville, and acknowledged that “Scripture has been misused to justify white supremacy and racism.”

The statement further declares that “White supremacy and racism stand in stark, irreconcilable contradiction to God’s intention for humanity” and acknowledges the church’s historic complicity in systemic racism in the U.S. And the leaders commit the church to “stand against, speak against and work against racism and white supremacy, this day and every day.”


The full text of the statement, issued August 14:

In the aftermath of the events of August 11 and 12 in Charlottesville, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reaffirms its condemnation of white supremacy and racism, names them as sin, and renews its commitment to disrupting them and working for justice and equity.

We give thanks for the presence and faithful witness of church members who stand against white supremacy and racism. Individually and collectively the church, including Presbyterians, stood against hate in Charlottesville. Individually and collectively the church, including Presbyterians, works to disrupt racism and to build racial equity in places across the country. We grieve for Heather Heyer, who was killed while standing witness; we grieve for state police officers H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died in a helicopter crash while monitoring events in Charlottesville; we pray for the recovery of all who were injured.

We acknowledge that Scripture has been misused to justify white supremacy and racism. However, we proclaim that the Bible’s message presents a far more consistent and insistent witness to God’s love for diversity and justice. This may be observed in God’s delight in the varied creation; heard in the words of prophets who reject oppression and commend justice as true worship; seen in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who values all persons regardless of any aspect of their identity; and experienced through the work of the Holy Spirit, who consistently blows through all the divisions we create, to reveal God’s love for all humanity.

White supremacy and racism stand in stark, irreconcilable contradiction to God’s intention for humanity. They reject part of the human family and are utterly contrary to God’s Word made incarnate in Jesus. They are idolatries that elevate human-created hierarchies over God’s freely given grace and love. They are lies about the human family, for they seek to say that some people are less than other people. They are lies about God because they falsely claim that God favors some people over the entirety of creation.

But as we give thanks, we acknowledge the church’s complicity in the creation of white supremacy and racism. We confess the church’s failure in challenging and disrupting white supremacy and racism. Too often we have accepted the status quo. Too often we have stood silent in the face of injustice and oppression.

By God’s grace may we remember the events in Charlottesville; repent of our acquiescence and failures; and renew our commitment to proclaim and live the good news of Jesus Christ. May that commitment lead us to stand against, speak against and work against racism and white supremacy, this day and every day.

May it be so. Amen.

Stated Clerk Signature


Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

PMA Exec Signature


Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director - Presbyterian Mission Agency

Denise Anderson Signature   Jan Edmiston Signature

Rev. T. Denise Anderson & Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston
Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly (2016)

  1. I agree with it. We are not suppose to condemn people because they are different. God is of love and not hate. He created all races of all people and he loves them very much.

    by Donald Putman

    December 1, 2017

  2. I agree with those who say our leadership needs to speak out against hate from the extremes of right and left. While we are at it, why is the church "buying in" to these media labels like "alt right", which for most of us could mean anything from someone who is an extremist to someone who votes for Republicans? It is also dishonest to paint our current President as having sent "messages of support" to racists. A fair reading of the President's actual and complete remarks does no such thing. Where is the church when we as individuals need her, or does this social-justice-as-defined-by-popular-mob now rule the day? Now suddenly we are all racists or we are all privileged? I respect people in both political parties, I believe in listening to their views, and I believe in the goodness of people and in giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they are not racist merely because of the color of their skin. Is there no room for my view in the church?

    by Carroll Hoke

    August 27, 2017

  3. I would like to see the Stated Clerk denounce the hate speech and domestic terrorism embodied in the alt-left, Black Lives Matter, and other so called Social Justice entities. We need to be fair.

    by Patrick Miliuc

    August 24, 2017

  4. Where is the condemnation of antifa and Black Lives Matter? ALL kinds of racism in to be condemned.


    August 23, 2017

  5. Thanks for your statement. Perhaps one day, we will have the unity and social justice that our Christian approach to life encourages. Few people remember that the Confederates were condemned as trait0rs after the Civil War. Then President Lincoln pardoned those participants (including General Lee) as Lincoln regarded both sides as brothers and the did not need the division and rancor that anything other than forgiveness would encourage. The refusal of the next set of leaders (after ten years of Reconstruction) to continue plans for slaves to have equal rights were negated. So... far too many non-slave citizens "took the rag off the bush" and we have on-going non-Christian responses today, I encourage people to read our history.

    by Pearl M. Spaulding

    August 20, 2017

  6. Proud to be a Presbyterian. Thank you for this superb statement of faith and commitment. May it be read in all the Presbyterian churches in this nation.

    by NancyLRice

    August 20, 2017

  7. We have to paint hatred with a broad brush if we are true to the gospel. Jesus, in condemning the Pharisees and Saducees for their self-righteousness did not add "but there are some good people" in their ranks. C'mon, folks, evil is evil. Hate is bad. Enough moral relativity. I've voted for both parties in the elections, so I don't have any political issues here. My Dad fought bravely in WWII, God rest his soul. We do the greatest generation a dishonor in making nice with the ones they fought against. "All things are lawful", wrote the apostle Paul, "but not all things are beneficial." Hate speech - even if protested nicely - may be Constitutional, but it's not Christian.

    by Rev. Donna Havrisko

    August 19, 2017

  8. Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair Hun has offfered these thoughts (to which I concur): the Neo Nazis scums in Virginia belong to the past. Their breed is dying out. Radical leftist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa have become mainstream on America's college campuses. The thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate America are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life. Why was UPC so quick and effective in responding to the recent incident in Charlottesville by singling out "white supremacy"? Has UPC made similar condemnations specifying Black Lives Matter, ANTIFA, Black Panthers, and a host of other hate groups? I'm awaiting a similar announcement condemning ISIS and Al Qaeda following yesterday's attacks in Spain.

    by Tom

    August 18, 2017

  9. Paragraph #3 expresses the foundation of the issue. God has created diversity for our enrichment, appreciation, and perhaps for our challenges. There is no room for hatred. We must actively seek concrete ways to show that reconciliation is the goal--a difficult one to achieve, to be sure. But sitting and talking, even just writing, is not enough. Let's get together, in groups big or small, and develop peaceful plans of action.

    by Katherine James

    August 18, 2017

  10. Beautifully worded response - thank you for making it clear where most Presbyterians stand. We see attitudes embodied in people - lets lift up the good folks like the late Rev. Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and other Presbyterians for the world to see that Presbyterians are not haters but have the inclusive love of Jesus in their hearts.

    by Genie Stoker

    August 17, 2017

  11. You need to be sure you fairly condemn all the violence and hatred expressed. If you take the time to review the entire situation - both this past weekend and in many other events - it is not only the groups you mention in your statement but others - extremists on left and right - who need to be included.

    by Jane Harris

    August 17, 2017

  12. Once again I am disappointed in the church leadership as it pertains to addressing important issues. Decrying racism, hatred, and bigotry- and anything else perpetuated upon the populace that seeks to divide God's children- is basic and easy. It takes no courage to follow the flock of thought forced on us and accept as fact without digging deeper. I continue to hold out (apparent) false hope that those in charge will seek out the truth as only God knows it. The human is weak and only through God can we find strength. The lead-in to the August 14 statement states that the violence was "fomented" by the "alt-right". If the despicable, hateful, reprehensible (use your own adjective of the strongest condemnation of these haters) white supremacists, neo-nazis- whatever they call themselves- organized for a rally and were met with indifference or silent, peaceful protest, the outcome would have been entirely different. I think we all know that these haters represent the overwhelming minority of any population group (by a factor of hundreds of thousandths or more) and do not deserve the attention that those that seek to divide us provide to them. I believe the reason that the media- and now church leadership by their mindlessly joining in- wishes to provide voice to these groups is of their hatred of President Trump and their desire to associate the president with these haters. I don't accept that the president is a reprobate, anti-Semite, racist, white supremacist, Putin plant, David Duke puppet; anyone going along with the narrative that the president is complicit in this hateful act must accept some, if not all, of these descriptions of him. I request of church leadership to do the hard work to seek the truth- again, the truth as God knows it- and break free from those- on so many levels- that seek to divide us and do not have the best interests of God's children, individually or collectively, as their purpose.

    by Michael Darling

    August 17, 2017

  13. Thanks, Yes Let each search our own Hearts and Speak out againest this evil.

    by Harry Grist

    August 17, 2017

  14. Are we freely acknowledging and discussing differences of race and ethnicity?

    by Michael Meckes

    August 17, 2017

  15. This statement is our denomination at its very best. It makes my heart swell with great love for our commitment to Jesus Christ who continues to inspire people like Heather Heyer to stand firm against bigotry and oppression even as she sacrificed her own life. Thank you!

    by Llinda Baldwin

    August 16, 2017

  16. Thank you for a clear and decisive response to the violence in Charlottesville. Now is the time to leave the pews and work to confront hate, violence and racism.

    by Katherine Kerr Kubatzky

    August 16, 2017

  17. Thanks for issuing this statement. Let's pray for all of Gods children. Amen

    by Margaret Mitchell-Rivers

    August 16, 2017

  18. I appreciate the response. Our minister shared this statement online. I am disappointed that many of ministers and pastors did not vocalize this from the pulpit in church on Sunday morning. Maybe its just my city, but I am yet to talk to a friend whose minister said anything other than "our prayers are with the victims in Charlottesville"

    by Jennifer Tillema May

    August 16, 2017

  19. Thank you for taking a stand and speaking the truth.

    by Terri Marratta

    August 16, 2017

  20. I can't help but notice the statement doesn't condemn ALL of the violence and hatred that occurred that day. Only the violence from the right, not the left. So sad we are falling into that place.

    by Leonard Michael

    August 16, 2017

  21. If a Muslim drove a vehicle into a crowd is there any doubt that this would be labeled an act of terrorism? We should label racism and bigotry as what they are Acts of Terrorism, And if we must have a "War on Terror" let it begin at home. I suggest that, as our current president has granted free political speech to the pulpit, that is where that war can and must begin.

    by Harry Copprens

    August 16, 2017

  22. Amen! We bear witness to an alternative vision of a reconciled humanity. Thank you for your clear call and leadership.

    by Steven Kurtz

    August 16, 2017

  23. A very good and necessary message. I also agree with the first comment above, from Darrell McCollum, "Supremacy language of any kind has no place in the Kingdom. We are called to humility. Additionally, any ideology across the spectrum can become idolatry and detract us from God."

    by Catherine D.Byrd

    August 16, 2017

  24. Thank you and Amen

    by Helen Dean

    August 16, 2017

  25. Great points folks. I think that there is a broader message here. Supremacy language of any kind has no place in the Kingdom. We are called to humility. Additionally, any ideology across the spectrum can become idolatry and detract us from God. There should be a general condemnation of violence. It takes two to fight. Yes, that means we have to turn a cheek now and then. I for one do not believe this phrase was meant metaphorically. We should make it clear that as a denomination we do not stand for a political ethos, we stand with the oppressed. We stand with the widows and orphans. Some mistakenly think this is a liberal point of view. This is God's view on our responsibilities to each other. If socially that aligns with this party or that party, it is by pure happenstance. God's message to us has remained consistant throughout time. we just lost sight of it.

    by Darryl McCollum

    August 16, 2017

  26. I was confirmed in this Church and although now I do not worship in a house of God, I am a grateful, joyful and loyal servant, advocate and steward to the ideals, of making real the love and compassion of our divine being through service to others and to our Earth and every being on it. I was very moved by this statement, and was very proud that you admitted all of us bearing responsibility in our complicity of the white man's society. Lip service is meaningless. I hope that all of us will now stand against it, not stay silent, support our fellow humans in their profound struggle.

    by Maggie King

    August 15, 2017

  27. I am thankful that I am a Christian. At the same time dismayed when men and women who follow the path of hate call themselves Christians. How do we tell the world that we are different, that we live to love Jesus and not hate people who are not "like us" whatever that means?

    by Sharon J. LeClaire

    August 15, 2017

  28. Gratitude for your prompt and clear condemnation of racism and violent behavior! I grieve that the national news networks are not including responses of faith leaders, such as you, as they cover the terrible events of this last week. You provide the moral and spiritual leadership that is necessary if we are to find a way toward living in unity, with respect for all of God's children. Thank you so much.

    by Rev. Robin Gantz

    August 15, 2017

  29. I am so glad that I am part of the Presbyterian Family of God,and I am proud to have read that our leadership has openly condemned and prayed for those we lost and others impacted by this awful act of discord & unrighteousness in our country. Grace, Mercy & Peace be upon this nation in Christ name, Amen.

    by Joan Thompson

    August 15, 2017

  30. Good message

    by Lori evans

    August 15, 2017

  31. Many thanks for your fine statement decrying racism and bigotry. As an American of German heritage, I would particularly draw attention to the "Neo-Nazi" role in the Charlotsville debacle. "Blut und Boden," "Blood and Soil" echoed -- this time in American streets. Outside Buchenwald concentration camp are the words, "Never Again," "Nie Wieder!" Need I say more?

    by Rev. James A. Schumacher, Th.D.

    August 15, 2017

  32. May God continue to bless everyone of you in jesus name Amen

    by john favour nwoha

    August 15, 2017

  33. THANK YOU!!! Outstanding job

    by John Hardie

    August 15, 2017

  34. Thank you for making a public comment. Our church needs to make more stands and comments on so many public issues. ....to show by action that we stand for the dignity of all.

    by Judy harroson

    August 14, 2017

  35. Finally a clear strong statement from the Church even including culpability. Let's hold those thoughts and follow with equal action. Thank you

    by Carol Muntz

    August 14, 2017

  36. Thank you. Thank you.

    by Mary Ann Ray

    August 14, 2017

  37. Amen to the statement. Read what the office of Public witness put out. 2 great statements

    by Lori Evans

    August 14, 2017

  38. I wanted to share our denomination's statement with my fellow retired military chaplains. I shared it on FB, and then realized that it only condemned white supremacy and racism, without mentioning Nazism and Anti-Semitism. I'm a tinge embarrassed, since I shared this with my military chaplain Rabbi buddies as well, most of whom are white. Am I just picky, or should we have included these folks in strong statements from the PCUSA?

    by Chaplain (Col), Ret. Donna Weddle

    August 14, 2017

  39. AMEN! Let's stop the hatred!

    by John Duquette

    August 14, 2017

  40. Thank you for these words. Every one of us must acknowledge and accept of our role in what has led to this. My prayers are lifted for all of you and your work.

    by Gayle Schmidt

    August 14, 2017

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