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 January 8, 2021 
 By CURTIS RAMSEY-LUCAS in Hyattsville, MD &
JOSHUA KAGI in Pottstown, PA
 
Responding to the turmoil of our times

Following Wednesday’s failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, we republished “Sanctified space: Transcending partisanship in church and state,” a 2019 article on the symbolism and sanctity of the Capitol, a building designed to reflect and serve a quasi-religious function—to be nothing short of a civic temple.
 
While this is not the first time in our nation’s history that violence has been visited upon the Capitol and those who work there, it is the first time such violence has been motivated and encouraged by the President of the United States and by his enablers in the Republican Party. In the words of the prophet Hosea, “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7 KJV).
 
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." Our democracy is at once fragile and resilient. That much was evident as a mob forced Members of Congress and the Vice President to flee House and Senate chambers and as they returned later that evening to finish the business of certifying President-elect Biden's win. May we not forget the fragility and resilience of our democracy and do our part to tend and strengthen it.
 
Monday, we published “In hyper-partisan times, remembering the work, witness of Dick Thornburgh.” Thornburgh, ex-governor and U.S attorney general, died December 31 at a retirement community in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. He was 88. A lifelong Republican, he was more political pragmatist than passionate ideologue. His life and service remind us that politics guided by basic decency, the pursuit of truth and justice, and an appreciation for the rule of law is possible. We have seen it before in our lifetimes. Let's work together so that our children see it in theirs.
 
Words may not soon quell the storm that was unleashed January 6, but perhaps remembering the ideals of those who have come before us will help us make a start. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who influenced the design of the original Capitol building, believed it should symbolically perpetuate the goals of the Revolution and the Constitution—among these the political union of people whose history, livelihood, and attitudes varied greatly; equal justice under law, economic and national independence, and the protection of individual liberties. The work of perpetuating these goals is yet before our nation and before the Church. May we rise to meet the challenge and not be found wanting in the attempt.
 
Hold fast. Keep the faith. Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God.
 
Faithfully,
 
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
Editor
 
Joshua Kagi
Producer
 
FIRST LOOK
Published this week in The Christian Citizen

Sanctified space: Transcending partisanship in church and state. Washington and Jefferson believed the Capitol should symbolically perpetuate the goals of the Revolution and the Constitution; among these the political union of people whose history, livelihood, and attitudes varied greatly. As the church faces similar challenges of diversity, including the diversity of political conviction among Christians, it does so on a foundation more secure than that of political union—faith in Jesus Christ. Read more.
 
In hyper-partisan times, remembering the work, witness of Dick Thornburgh. If humility means acknowledging when we are wrong, then humility also encompasses politicians accepting the results of elections, even when they cannot believe, or would rather not concede, the choices voters have made. Read more.
 
FRIDAY NEWS ROUND-UP
What we've been reading this week

 
Trump’s evangelicals were complicit in the desecration of our democracy. The collapse of one disastrous form of Christian social engagement should be an opportunity for the emergence of a more faithful one. And here there are plenty of potent, hopeful Christian principles lying around unused by most evangelicals: A consistent and comprehensive concern for the weak and vulnerable in our society, including the poor, immigrants and refugees. A passion for racial reconciliation and criminal justice reform, rooted in the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity. A deep commitment to public and global health, reflecting the priorities of Christ’s healing ministry. An embrace of political civility as a civilizing norm. A commitment to the liberty of other people’s religions, not just our own. An insistence on public honesty and a belief in the transforming power of unarmed truth. (The Washington Post)
 
The whole story in a single photo. An image from the Capitol captures the distance between who we purport to be and who we have actually been. (The Atlantic)
 
As chaos hits Capitol, two forms of faith on display. It was an unprecedented day that exposed a number of fissures in American society, including two wildly different approaches to faith. (Religion News Service)

Taking the white Christian nationalist symbols at the Capitol riot seriously. The attack exposed the comfortable juxtaposition of Christianity and white supremacy. (Religion News Service)
 
Pastors respond to unbelievable events at Capitol on Epiphany 2021. Baptist pastors and leaders took to social media Wednesday, Jan. 6, to express outrage and remorse and calls to prayer as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to disrupt certification of Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election. (Baptist News Global)
 
It’s time to speak for America. Not since 1876—a crisis that followed from a recent civil war, and whose resolution legitimized a disastrous retreat from American principles in at least a part of the reunited nation—have we seen a moment like this. The president of the United States, aided and abetted by major figures in his party, is trying, after the votes have been certified, to overturn the results of the recent election. Major figures in the Republican party seek to hijack legal and legislative forms, and to call people into the streets, against a core element of our constitutional form of government. (The Bulwark)

We need to call Trump Christians back to the faith they left. Our prophetic task is to speak truth, denounce injustice and advocate for justice for all people. And, at the same time, our evangelistic task is to call people home, to call them in. (Baptist News Global)
 
Faith groups among those calling for Trump’s impeachment after US Capitol occupation. ‘Every moment that he remains in office is a severe danger to our country,’ the groups said in a statement. (Religion News Service)

D.C. houses of worship beef up security as Trump defenders descend on the nation’s capital. Highly concerned about the potential for further vandalism or worse, downtown congregations are now taking multiple tacks: asking downtown hotels and liquor stores to limit business during protest days, hiring private security, debating whether to counterprotest or stay out of the city, and in one case, litigating. (The Washington Post)
 
The Christian Citizen stories included in this email will publish online throughout the week. For the latest, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

The Christian Citizen is a publication of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, publishing online ten months a year with two annual print editions. Click here to subscribe to the print edition and/or other ABHMS printed resources. 
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