Stop using nuclear war rhetoric, start fighting climate change and always speak the truth. These are some of the demands an international assembly of Pentecostal and charismatic leaders sent to the White House on the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, January 20th.
Amos Yong and Craig S. Keener, commonly viewed as two of the world’s leading Pentecostal scholars, are among the signatories. Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life church in Saint Joseph, Missouri, and Jane Caulton, minister of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., also stand by the letter.
“Approaches to effective policy vary, but please move away from comments that belittle ethnic minorities, immigrants, etc.”, says Craig S. Keener.
The areas the letter covers are:
- demonization of immigrants and minorities;
- reckless nuclear war rhetoric;
- loosening of environmental protection;
- belittling and abuse of women;
- disrespect of indigenous people;
- inequalities between rich and poor; and
- dishonesty and lying.
Dear Mr. President,
We, leaders in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, who share the belief in God’s Word, salvation uniquely found in Jesus Christ and the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, write to you today on the anniversary of your inauguration.
We write this to, with great respect, express dissatisfaction, discomfort and distrust in your policies and behavior.
As Pentecostals and Charismatics, one of our distinctive focuses is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Christ Jesus, and it is incongruous for us to claim His gifts while walking and working in a way that does not follow Jesus’ teachings, commands, and heart. Because we follow the Spirit of Christ, we cannot support anti-Christlike words, behavior, policies and values of any person, even if it’s the president of the United States.
When looking at your political work and administration, we are deeply critical to:
- The demonization of immigrants and minorities. Lev 19:33-34 clearly states that we should love immigrants as ourselves and treat them as natives. Repeatedly describing immigrants as dangerous and criminal, as well as banning millions of them to enter the United States, is contrary to the Christian way. Likewise, the way you talk about African Americans, Mr. President, claiming that they are responsible for most murders, is highly upsetting.
- The reckless nuclear war rhetoric and preparations towards North Korea. Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matt 5:44) and Paul emphasized that we seek peace with all people (Rom 12:18). While the situation for North Korea’s people is severe and needs to be addressed, your bombastic threats to “totally destroy” the entire country, your confusing disregard for diplomatic solutions and your fascination for nuclear bombsmakes the situation alarming. You are risking the lives of millions of civilians in this dangerous game, and we call on you to listen more carefully to your diplomatic advisors.
- The loosening of protections for the environment. We are critical to your disregard for the dangers of climate change, Mr. President. You announced that the US would exit the Paris accord, you put a climate change denier in charge of the EPA, and you have simply forbidden several government agencies to mention climate change on their websites. Climate change will kill millions of people unless we do anything about it, and the Bible condemns those who “destroy the earth” (Rev 11:8).
- The disrespect, belittling and abuse of women. You, Mr. President, have honestly said some horrible things about women, including that you would like to grope them and have extramarital sex with them. You initially asked for forgiveness for these sinful comments, but you later have tried to sow doubts about whether you even said them, and you belittle the 16 women that accuse you of sexual harassment. The Bible is clear with sexual immorality being contrary to the Kingdom of God (Col 3:5), and we cannot accept that you continue with this behavior.
- The continuing disrespect for and breaking of sacred treaties with indigenous people. While you are hostile towards immigration of refugees, Mr. President, you seem to show little respect towards the native Americans whom your people oppressed and stole from in order to build the United States. You went forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline with no regard to how it destroys native American land, and you were extremely insensitive when you were to honor native American war veterans in front of a picture of Andrew Jackson, using degrading racial slur. The Bible tells us to do to others as we would have them do to us (Matt 7:12), and we highly doubt that you would like to be treated like you treat racial minorities.
- The growing inequalities between rich and poor. The Bible says that “the goal is equality” between rich and poor (2 Cor 8:14), which is why the early Christians eliminated economic differences as the Holy Spirit filled them (Acts 2:44-45). Supporting a tax bill that makes lives worse for the poor while the rich like yourself get massive tax cuts is indefensible.
- The dishonesty and lying of the administration. The Bible is clear: each of us must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to our neighbor (Eph 4:25). We are deeply troubled with how easily you and your administration are able to tell straight up lies, whether it’s about crowd sizes, illegal voting, wiretapping or, as mentioned, that you boasted about groping women.
We call on you to repent, to read and understand what you have described as your favorite book, the Bible, and to be filled with and obey the Holy Spirit. We will pray for you and your administration, and we deeply hope that you will change your ways.
Amos Yong, Professor Of Theology And Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary, Assemblies of God, California.
Brian Zahnd, Pastor, Word of Life Church, Missouri.
Craig S. Keener, Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Great Commission Fellowship Vineyard, Kentucky.
Jane Caulton, Minister, Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, District of Columbia.
Johnathan Alvarado, Pastor of Grace Church International Atlanta, Georgia.
Florian Berndt, Theologian, Fatherheart Ministries, Germany.
Danek Bourgoin, Professor, United Pentecostal Church International, Canada.
Arthur Bucher, Church leader, Circle of Hope, Pennsylvania.
Rev. Kevin Daugherty, Bivocational Pastor, Unfailing Love, Pennsylvania.
Dennis DuPont, Chaplain, Church of God, Maryland.
Rudy Estrada, Dean of Academic Affairs, LABI College, California.
Torbjörn Freij, Pastor, Vineyard Fellowship, Sweden.
Micael Grenholm, Editor-in-chief for PCPJ, Mosaik Church, Sweden.
Rev. Donald Guffey, Ordained Minister, Assemblies of God, Tennessee.
Erik Holke, Theological Seminar Leader, Saron Church Gothenburg, Sweden
Sian-chin Iap, Postdoctoral Fellow, Chungli Assembly of God, Taiwan.
Joseph R. Kidwell, Pastor, Greater Grace & Deliverance Ministries, Florida.
PsyD Marcus Kilian, Psychologist, Real Life Church, Minnesota.
David Ketter, Pastor, The Village Church, Pennsylvania.
Dave Larson, Missionary Humanitarian Worker, Christ Commission Fellowship, Philippines.
Rev. Samuel J. Lopez, Pastor, Amazing Love Sanctuary, Colorado.
James Melnarik, Youth Leader, Havenhouse Foursquare, California.
D. E. “Gene” Mills Jr, Clergy and scholar, Church of God (Cleveland, TN).
L. William Oliverio Jr., Associate Academic Dean Assemblies of God, The School of Urban Missions, California.
Daniel J. Schmitz, Lead Pastor, New Hope Covenant Church, California.
Aaron Taylor, Filmmaker, Life Church, New Mexico.
Rev. Faith Totushek, Pastor, Way Finders, Minnesota.
Dr. Richard E. Waldrop, Missionary, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), Tennessee.
Paul Walker, Pastor of The Meeting Place, Canada.