American Church Leaders Call 'America First' Slogan as 'Heresy'
By Mei Manuel, May 14, 2018 06:05 AM
Several Christian leaders in the United States are scheduled to march to the White House on May 24 as part of an ecumenical movement aimed to 'reclaiming Jesus'.
The march will launch the Reclaiming Jesus Declaration, which describes the slogan of President Donald Trump, 'America First', as a 'heresy.'
Some of the leaders taking part on the march include Michael Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Walter Brueggemann, theologician, and Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojouners.
The declaration begins with the warning:
'We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.
'It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else - nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography - our identity in Christ precedes every other identity.'
It also warns of politics 'undermining' theology and of government ceasing 'to serve the common good'. It is fiercely critical of developments in US public life, saying: 'We reject the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership.'
Signatories also reject 'misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God'.
The declaration further criticizes President Trump's agenda and added:
'We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the "strangers" among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won't accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich.'
It also said:
'We reject the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined.'
The declaration also condemns nationalism and xenophobia, continuing with a rejection of Trump's campaign slogan: 'We reject "America first" as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal.'
Meanwhile, not all religious leaders in the country were supportive of the movement. The head of the conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy Mark Tooley criticized it through Twitter and said:
'Denouncing political stances as "heresy" is often unwise & confuses categories; prelates most prone to it often are least likely to identify genuinely doctrinal heresy.'
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