For Immediate Release
Evangelical Men Join Women’s Call to Hit Pause on Culture War
July 18, 2018: Last week a rising chorus of leading Evangelical women called America to stop the Senate from rushing to confirm a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. They called fellow Evangelicals to “Hit Pause on the Culture Wars.” This week, a strong core of leading Evangelical men join the women’s call.
Launched decades ago, the Evangelical Culture Wars have effectively brought the nation to a turning point. The balance of the Supreme Court is poised to tip in favor of a conservative agenda for generations. Powered by a political strategy crafted in the 1980s by the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition, conservative Evangelicals have eyed the Supreme Court as a prime target of its war to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Now, on the brink of the political win Culture Warriors have dreamt about for more than three decades, Evangelical women and men of color and their White Evangelical allies are voicing dissent. The only growing segment of the Evangelical church, people of color warn: The conservative Evangelical strategy to dominate the Supreme Court will result in increased abortion rates—particularly in poor communities and communities of color. What’s more, a Conservative majority Court poses an existential threat to the civil rights and protections gained through the Civil Rights movement. Hard data proves it and Evangelicals are saying no:
Abortion rates for American women have hit an all-time low, but they’ve increased among poor women because economic hardship is the primary driver of abortion. The way to reduce abortion is not through escalating culture wars but by reducing poverty. Instead, the conservative court will continue to unravel hard won rights and freedoms that add to poverty. Rulings have already whittled away voting rights and desegregation, adding to divisiveness across the country — even within our church pews.
This Call to Pause was initiated by author Lisa Sharon Harper, president and founder of Freedom Road, LLC, who has garnered strong public statements from a political spectrum of 17 leading Evangelical men across the nation to join the 18 statements issued by Evangelical women last week.
The group is calling on all Evangelicals to Pause the Culture War:
1) Fast for God’s discernment after 35 years of a Culture War mindset. We recognize that three things happen in war:
a) There are only allies and enemies, no human beings.
b) You cannot be wrong in war. You are always right. The other is always wrong.
c) There is always collateral damage in war.
2) Listen to the stories and testimonies of the people of color in the pew right next to us.
3) Act on our prayerful, informed discernment by calling our Senators to demand they replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy with a moderate independent Justice. Senate switchboard: 1-(202) -224-3121.
“Being pro-life is multidimensional from womb to tomb. We need justices committed to listening and working together versus winning culture wars. The first chapter of the Bible lets us know that God created the world diverse and said that it is good. In Proverbs 18:17, the wisdom is that when you hear one perspective it seems right until someone else cross-examines it. This biblical wisdom will be helpful when the nine Justices of the Court are discerning what is good and true based on the U.S. Constitution. History shows us when our Justices are not diverse in their perspectives, they can hurt the most vulnerable.”
~David M. Bailey
“In the most politically divided and racially polarized landscape in recent American history, our nation stands on the brink of confirming a partisan Supreme Court in the name of Religious Freedom and overturning Roe v. Wade. But the 35 year Culture War that brought us to this brink may actually result in rulings that restrict and dismantle civil rights and voting rights for people of color, women and other minorities. For this reason, I join the Call to Hit Pause on the Culture War. The rhetoric of war is damaging our ability to see each other as human beings. An unbalanced Supreme Court committed to interpreting our Constitution “as written” mistakenly assigns divine authorship and the assumption of just intent and outcome to a document written by European men, many of whom owned slaves, stole land from Native Americans and saw no place for women in the leadership of public life. People of color have reason to fear any Court that views the U.S. Constitution as a static, inerrant document. Our nation needs a balanced Supreme Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh will not offer that balance. I stand with the women and men who are calling our nation to Hit Pause on the Culture War. We must call our Senators this week and tell them to confirm a truly moderate and independent Justice to the court. We must fast and we must listen to the stories of those who will be most impacted by the next court. Our future depends on it.”
~Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber
The Voices Project
Congressional Developer Greater NW United Methodist Church
“I, along with many of my fellow ministers of the Gospel, have become increasingly disturbed by American Christianity’s “Culture War”, and its unbiblical proximity to power. The cost of this, often preferential, political conflict have been incalculable. The American Church is known more for what we are against rather than who and what we are for. We have harmed our witness and ignored the fierce, disruptive call of the prophet Amos to “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) While my Biblical convictions remain rooted in the preservation of life from the womb to tomb, I am grieved by the American Church’s reckless partisanship and subsequent dismissal of the vulnerable in our society. This is not the way of Jesus. I pray and urge that the next appointee to the Supreme Court is a just, independent interpreter of the law and not merely a pawn in a political agenda. As a Black Pastor and citizen of the United States, I stand against the Culture War’s divisive tactics and firmly on the side of the marginalized in this and all political decisions.”
Vice President of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective
Pastor, Co-Host of Pass the Mic Podcast
“As a US citizen of Mexican descent and in my role as President of the Community Development Association that includes members from vulnerable neighborhoods throughout our nation, I urge my fellow Evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ to carefully consider the impact of appointing a conservative Supreme Court Justice on those living on the margins of our society; especially on people of color.
I fear that by not considering an independent nominee to replace Justice Kennedy with a commitment to protect the life and quality of life of every American we will only escalate the Cultural War waged on immigrants, women and the poor resulting in devastating collateral damage.
As Christ followers who are called to love and care for the vulnerable, let’s Hit Pause and ask our elected officials to do the same in considering the critical nomination. Let’s pray and fast for discernment and wisdom. Let’s listen closely to the voices of women and of the vulnerable. Finally, let’s work together to ensure the rights and well-being of all Americans.”
“I am pro-life. Being FOR life includes wanting to see the number of abortions continue to drop. I don’t think the Left or the Right has a magic formula for that.
In the end, being pro-life is not just about eradicating abortion. It also means welcoming immigrants, ending gun violence, affirming the dignity and rights of sexual minorities, opposing war, caring for creation, supporting black lives, and abolishing the death penalty. That is why I support my sisters in hitting pause on the culture wars. We need leaders, including Supreme Court justices, who are concerned about life consistently and wholistically, from womb to tomb. I am deeply concerned about having a court that is pro-life on one issue but anti-life on so many others.
On a side note, it is mind-boggling that since 1790, there have been 113 Supreme Court justices but only 4 of them have been women and only 3 of them have been people of color. In 228 years, all but 6 of the justices have been white men. If we are going to make America great, we must allow women and people of color to lead the way. Please join us as we hit pause on the culture wars, as we pray together for our country, and as we put our prayers into action.”
Author, Activist, Founder of Red Letter Christians
“As a Follower of Jesus Christ I believe we are to embrace a holistic view of salvation, which is spiritual but also physical in the care and love for the least among us including the unborn, the poor, oppressed and marginalized in our midst. Therefore, it is imperative to press pause on the Culture War in America so that in our efforts to protect the unborn we do not hurt the living among us. I am concerned that appointing a conservative Justice to the Supreme Court will not reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. especially since there is evidence that a balanced Supreme Court has made progress in this effort. What the Culture War has reaped in the past has been the undoing of protections won by the Civil Rights Movement, facilitated by a conservative Supreme Court. Therefore, as an Evangelical Leader I am urging us to fast and pray that God will show us the way toward a common good and act with humility to seek real solutions that will be a blessing to all especially the unborn and those that are oppressed in America.”
~Rev Dr. Orlando Crespo
Pastor, New Life in the Bronx Church and
Author, Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in your Ethnic Identity
“Scripture admonishes us to ‘Weep with those who are weeping.’ (Romans 12:15) I believe this means to be aware of our neighbors’ pain, and to give a care. This is more than just a directive to pity someone. This is a call to gain a full and proper understanding of the issues which make fellow citizens weep—and makes them feel second-class. It is our duty to hit pause on the culture wars, to fast, to pray, to listen, and to call upon our Senators to demand a truly moderate, independent Justice to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. The delusion of American Exceptionalism, a Christian America and the perceived right to opt out of being our brother’s and sister’s keeper, has caused many people of faith to store their treasure in places where scripture clearly instructs us not to. I urge hitting the pause button for more than just the sake of the disenfranchised. I believe that the disenfranchisement and fear of our white privileged society is being openly revealed, and hitting this pause button on the culture wars may be the beginning of their own healing and liberation. As an African American brother in the faith, I pray that pausing might just cause our sympathy to evolve into empathy so that we act on behalf of those for whom Christ died. This extremely pivotal moment will perhaps determine if America can ever truly become great for all its citizens.”
~Rev. Dr. Alexander Gee, Jr., Sr. Pastor
Church & Justified Anger CEO
Fountain of Life Covenant
“The affirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination by many who claim to speak for evangelicals has exposed the degree to which morality in America’s public square has been narrowly defined by corporate interests rather than the concerns of Scripture. Anyone who is concerned about poor children, women, immigrants and minorities must examine Kavanaugh’s record on voting rights, healthcare access, and equal protection under the law. Whatever your position on Roe v Wade, these are the “life” issues before the Supreme Court today–and Kavanaugh has been consistently anti-life on these issues. I’m grateful for evangelical women who’ve led the call to Hit Pause on the Culture War by opposing Kavanaugh’s nominations and demanding a moderate, independent justice. And I’m glad to join them in calling our fellow evangelicals to take this message to our Senators, fast and pray for our nation, and listen to our black and brown sisters and brothers who know in their bodies how far we have to go toward the “more perfect union” the Constitution names as our goal.”
Director, School for Conversion
“For many of us who sit in seats of privilege, political decisions ranging from policy overhauls to SCOTUS picks don’t impact our everyday reality. Our insulation allows us to take sides, propagate culture wars and debate on social media while society’s most vulnerable are crushed under the weight of our abstract ideology. We have to go on a journey toward understanding the human implications of our ideology and allow the Spirit to guide us toward justice.
As white, male Christian leaders, there are times we need to lay down our privilege and other times we need to leverage it. Now is the time for the latter. It is the necessary posture and practice to promote the flourishing of those on the underside of power. Those whom Jesus often described as first in his kingdom. Let’s follow their lead by giving ourselves away…even if it costs everything.”
Pastor, Co-founding Director of Global Immersion and author of Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World.
“Any selection of a Supreme Court justice matters, and matters for years to come. All justices are interpreters of the law and influence lives in every part of society. Neutral judges don’t exist but centrist judges do.
This current nominee has impressive credentials and experience, but his nomination appears to be motivated by exceptionally ideological intentions as a redress of past and present culture wars. To serve the legal interests of all citizens, and especially women and people of color, we need a more ideologically centrist court, not one controlled by the right or by the left. To some, this nominee is a corrective to the left-leaning court of recent history. But surely the answer that serves all people will not be a corresponding swing to a right-leaning court. Neither direction serves the long-term interest of our nation but rather extends and perpetuates the very abuses of power which the Supreme Court is meant to redress in its commitment to justice.”
Fuller Theological Seminary
“Fear is fraying the bonds of trust that undergird our nation. Fear is the sustenance of the culture wars. The Good News of the Gospel declares, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Let us put a pause to the culture wars and learn to love one another. Let us fast from the fear that divides and nourish ourselves on the fruit of the spirit. Let us urge our leaders to choose justice over injustice, which requires truly neutral judges on the Supreme Court. Justices who choose love over fear.”
~Rev. Kevin F. Modesto, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology and Social Work, Point Loma Nazarene University
Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene
“First, it’s important to acknowledge in all our rhetoric that I nor any other man in office has ever nor will ever be pregnant. We can only understand by proxy. We must defer to the queens of our culture. I suggest for the men, that we hit pause twice. Maybe for once let’s let the ladies be the experts in something that they are already experts in. Secondly, culture war, for the Christian should be a misnomer. The culture is not some monster that comes from the mountains. It’s us, all of us, we are the culture. And our God loves the culture. How could I be at war with what I’m called to love? Maybe let’s not think of things in terms of power grabs and tit for tats, but as members of a society that flourishes when we do what we are called to. May we be pro-life by general principle, womb to tomb, and not just in talking points. Sure, fire would rid a house of rodents, but it would also burn the house down. Wars burn down houses. Slow down.”
Hip Hop artist and podcaster
“Since the inception of the United States and under the banner of a nationalist religion, systems have been created by men who look like me to benefit men who look like me at the expense of those who do not. I lament that these insidious policies, laws, and structures have been established in the name of a counterfeit, white Jesus who endorses my ‘American Dream’ even while it creates a hellish nightmare for the impoverished. I repent for the moments I have knowingly and unknowingly offered compliance through my silence rather than solidarity through courageous, costly influence and for the moments when I’ve redistributed my allegiance to Jesus and others to partisan politics and power.
That said, as a white, cis-gendered faith leader and social innovator, I leverage my privilege in this moment in order to amplify the voices, dreams, and desires of my marginalized relatives whose rights and freedoms have never been protected by a majority conservative Supreme Court. Like the One we follow, I stand with them in diametric opposition to any and every system, policy, law, legal system, and political alliance that has not, will not, nor cannot reflect the enemy-loving, others’ embracing, equity-seeking love of God whose name is Peace. I urge us all to hit pause on the culture wars, to fast, to pray, to listen, and to call upon our Senators to demand a truly moderate, independent Justice to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. I do so in love and as just another expression of my commitment to pro-life for all life.”
~Jer Swigart (@jerswigart)
Co-Founding Director, The Global Immersion Project (@globalimmerse)
Co-Author, Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World
“The Call to Pause serves as a much needed balm and bridge in the midst of our nation’s culture war. These courageous statements from evangelical women are an important reminder that as followers of Jesus we must embrace and apply the most important matters of the law- of justice, mercy and faithfulness- to our politics, including the critical decision around who will replace Supreme Court Justice Kennedy. The abortion debate has become so polarized and politicized that it has often prevented people of faith and conscience from coming together around common ground solutions that have already been shown to dramatically reduce the number of abortions, including by increasing access to health care, child care, and birth control. I’m grateful that this initiative is promoting a much broader understanding of what it means to be pro-life, one that calls us to address everything that threatens life and assaults human dignity from birth through death- from racism and sexism to poverty and sexual violence.”
~Rev. Adam Taylor
Executive Director, Sojourners
“The SCOTUS selection will impact all Americans but it will not impact all Americans in the same way. For people of color, especially black people, issues such as affirmative action, gerrymandering, and civil rights protections form an interconnected complex of issues. The record of a potential Supreme Court judge on these topics and more must be carefully scrutinized. While reducing abortions is a worthy goal, research reveals that a pro-life stance for all of life–from womb to tomb–is the best way of ensuring the safety of children both before and after they are born. As an American citizen who is also Black and an evangelical, I desire a Supreme Court justice who will make decisions with compassion toward those who have been historically marginalized and not repeal the hard-won rights we have secured.”
The Witness, a Black Christian Collective
“In the midst of polarized and politicized public battles, where overarching moral questions and gospel matters are easily lost, I often find myself looking for the right voices to say the necessary things. I have been agonizing about that in the current controversy over a new Supreme Court justice appointment. And now, the voices we have terribly needed have appeared in this Call to Pause. This call for deeper discernment in rushed political conflicts is exactly what is urgently needed, and the voices of evangelical women, especially faithful women of color, are the ones most needed to be heard right now.
For a long time, we have seen the creation of “culture wars” used to gain political power. In the name of “pro-life” beliefs, we have seen narrow partisan mobilizations that violate what some have rightly called for instead: a consistent ethic of life. The “seamless garment of life,” as described by former Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, requires us to go deeper into what will genuinely and most broadly serve life, and the dignity of life, on a wide set of issues and concerns — like poverty, violence, racism, and capital punishment — not just the criminalization of what are tragic and vulnerable decisions often made by poor women in circumstances with great discrepancies of power. As eloquent statements from the Call to Pause women make clear, backed up by very clear social data, the cause of preventing unwanted pregnancies and genuinely reducing abortions will come best by assuring needed health care for women, available and affordable child care, nutritional and other support for low-income (usually working) families, access to birth control, and full inclusion of those women and families in our communities.
On the contrary, the “conservative court” being called for by the political right would likely turn all those things in the wrong direction— cutting back health care protections and many low-income support programs like SNAP, restricting immigrant rights and reforms, and dangerously turning back progress on civil rights and voting rights. Those ideological commitments of the political right are not pro-life, but put both life and dignity in jeopardy. And statistics show this will actually increase abortions in America. So-called “pro-life” politics are made hypocritical and counterproductive in heated times like this. So it is time to pause, fast, listen, and act with consistency and courage for justice, compassion, and mercy. Thanks to these women who are leading the way.”
President and Founder
“Women are leading the way in helping the church recover its prophetic witness as a community for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, the prisoner, the aged, the unborn, and the disenfranchised. The call to pause from the culture wars is a call for the church to reject partisan politics and to think in a decisively Christian manner. Christ has made possible a new kind of community that turns strangers into friends and enemies into family. At this moment of transition in the U.S. Supreme Court, we call the church to recover its voice for justice, and care for vulnerable populations who are disproportionately and adversely impacted by laws and rulings that neglect, dismiss, and overlook the most vulnerable people. It’s time the Church courageously passes through the sea of partisan politics and lifts our distinctive voice as a community of the cross, shaped by God’s liberating love for the whole world.”
~Rev. Benjamin D. Wayman, Ph.D.
Pastor, St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church
James F. and Leona N. Andrews Chair in Christian Unity, Greenville University