WITNESS FOR JUSTICE #1066 Join the Movement

John Dorhauer

In his book Lies across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, Smithsonian historian and author James Loewen uncovers the truth about white America: its monuments reinforce the lies we tell and the truths we hide about our racist past.

Since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a serious movement to rediscover hidden truths about racism and to demolish monuments to our racist past. Statues of insurrectionists, Confederate traitors, and racist, slave-holding and slavery-defending oligarchs have been toppled. New markers and museums that tell the truth about the courage, creativity, and remarkable endurance of enslaved populations are finally being built. Getting this story right is important.

Fierce debates are now ensuing as white supremacists, manifesting both their privilege and their ignorance, seek to shut down one source of this rediscovered history: critical race theory. Largely ignorant of what it actually teaches and fueled by fear that the established white infrastructure will soon collapse under the weight of truths revealed, white bigots are running scared and trying hard to stop a growing movement for racial equity and justice.

It is in this cauldron of growing tension between those who want to perpetuate systems of white privilege and those who want to dismantle it that the United Church of Christ begins two projects we hope will engage us as critical allies in the struggle for racial equity.

At the behest of the United Church of Christ Board of Directors, the National Setting of the UCC has hired a firm to conduct a thorough race audit of our practices, our policies, and our documents. To what extent does the National Setting continue to center whiteness and manifest privilege? That is the question we are seeking answers to in an effort to cast honest eyes on our past and present and ferret out any and all vestiges of our white privilege.

And by recommendation of the Mission Planning Council of the United Church of Christ, the National Setting is also engaging the entire denomination in a coordinated effort to uncover all the truth there is to be told about our commitments to become an anti-racist church. Velda Love, our Minister for Racial Justice, will lead what we are calling “Join the Movement,” which launched at General Synod. The invitation is for churches to act for racial justice and equity, and then share their stories of committed justice action on the soon-to-be-launched “Join the Movement” website.

Over the next biennium, and perhaps – likely – beyond, it is our hope that we will begin to recount our commitments to racial equity and to account for our racist past.

We must all do our part to commit to truth telling.

We must be vigilant in our dedication to dismantle the vestiges of white power and privilege.

We must uncenter whiteness as the norm.

We must recenter a Jesus whose love was freely offered to all.

We must recreate the body of Christ in the image and likeness of a God who shows no partiality.

Join the movement.

John Dorhauer is the General Minister and President for the United Church of Christ.

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