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Statement on the Insurrection Staged at the United States Capitol
January 7, 2021
Chicago Theological Seminary President Stephen G. Ray
A bedrock value that has animated Chicago Theological Seminary since our founding has been an unwavering commitment to a vision of America as a just society. Our vision of a just society is one in which freedom, equality, and hope are constitutive elements.
We have understood also, from the beginning, that ours is but one vision of what America ought to be. There is a vision against which we have stood that desires a nation of blood and soil, in which those not of white European descent should never be allowed the full fruits of citizenship nor the right of governance within our society. This is what was at stake in 1855 as the nation stood on the brink of dissolution because of the iniquity of slavery.
What is at stake for us today is whether this will be a nation in which democracy is meant for us all, or just for the few; whether the “inalienable” rights intoned in the Declaration of Independence will be recognized for us all or just one race; whether the hope for a nation in which freedom rings from every mountaintop and justice rolls down like a mighty stream is but a fool’s dream.
Before us today is the choice of whether we will commit ourselves to the building of a better nation worthy of the devotion of all of its citizens, or will we be prisoners of our often-shameful white supremacist past? Let us be clear there is no middle ground. As was obvious yesterday, white supremacy will give no quarter to maintain its hold on the structures of our government nor will it flinch in destroying those structures when they lead to a pluralistic and inclusive future.
So today, we at Chicago Theological Seminary rededicate ourselves to the building of a new public square in which there is no place for the malice and hatred that took flesh in halls of nation’s Capitol. We rededicate ourselves to the work of building a society in which peace is not purchased at the expense of the rights and freedoms of our neighbors. In this work, we invite all people of goodwill across the spectrum of faith to join us and we pledge to stand with any so dedicated to building a brighter tomorrow for our children.
“With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” (Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, April 10, 1865)