Dr. Yoland Pierce, a Howard University divinity dean and professor, called out White Christians for their “silence and complicity” after videos emerged showing people reportedly connected to the Proud Boys hate group removing and burning property from D.C. churches, including the city’s oldest Black church, after a pro-Trump rally.
“Burning Black Lives Matter signs ripped from churches is an explicit threat to the sanctity of the Black church and to Black lives and freedom, even if the church itself is not historically Black,” Pierce began in a series of tweets Sunday morning after the Million MAGA March.
“White Christians: your silence and complicity, for 400 years, in the face of racial terror and religious violence against African Americans is theological malpractice,” she added.
Pierce, also an author and womanist theologian, went on to say:
“Perhaps if you read some Liberation or Womanist theology, or some Critical Race Theory, you’d understand the relationship between silence, racial terror, and white supremacist theology. But since that isn’t likely, here’s some scripture for you: woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs…inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.You’re a hypocrite and the truth ain’t in you if you claim to love a God you haven’t seen, while either condoning or being silent about acts of terror and violence against your actual neighbor.”
Burning Black Lives Matter signs ripped from churches is an explicit threat to the sanctity of the Black church and to Black lives and freedom, even if the church itself is not historically Black.
— Yolanda Pierce, PhD (@YNPierce) December 13, 2020
The assailants seen in videos attacking churches were believed to be members of the Proud Boys. They were in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, December 12 along with thousands of others claiming allegiance to outgoing President Donald Trump. The event was organized in protest of President-elect Joe Biden’s clear election victory and occured after several failed voter disenfranchisement attempts by Trump and the Republican Party.
As darkness descended on the city, numerous pro-Trump activists were seen on tape burning a Black Lives Matter flag belonging to Ashbury United Methodist Church
As the Religion News Service reports:
In a pair of widely-shared Twitter videos, a group of people identified by conservative outlet Daily Caller as Proud Boys can be seen tearing down a Black Lives Matter sign — which bears the logo of Asbury United Methodist church — and then setting it on fire. The group of mostly white men, many adorned in the black-and-yellow colors often worn by Proud Boys, then begin to cheer and chant expletive-ridden anthems.
Other videos show similarly dressed groups roaming the streets and stealing and destroying a Black Lives Matter sign from Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.
While local law enforcement told the Religion News Service that they were “investigating [the attacks] as possible hate crimes,” Black Lives Matter D.C. called on the Justice Department to launch a federal civil rights investigation.
“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street. The sign burning was captured on Twitter. It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames,” the Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church said in a public statement.
“For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings. Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened,” he added.
Asbury United Methodist Church began in 1836 when 75 free African Americans left another local church that practiced racism to found a church where they could freely worship.
“We have not been distracted by signs, sounds, or fury for nearly two centuries. We worship. We liberate. We serve,” William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, tweeted Sunday.
Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, founded in 1838, has long been known as “a spiritual venue for abolitionist and civil rights pioneers,” including Frederick Douglass.
This image frm last night is a violent white mob desecrating the #BlackLivesMatter sign outside @MetropolitanAME, an historic Black church in D.C. This was the home church of my cousin #GwenIfill. Her funeral was held there. As was the funeral of #FrederickDouglass. pic.twitter.com/ERgQNfD147
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) December 13, 2020
In addition to the Black church attacks, reportedly four people were stabbed and at least 23 people were arrested.
Christians of color have been ringing the alarm concerning President Trump and his apparent racism—or willingness to play to base racist sentiment among supporters—since he announced his run for office in 2015.
“From his birtherism charges against President Obama, to his threats against ‘bad hombres,’ to his bragging about getting away with sexual assault, candidate Trump signaled that he was going to be a White man’s president, dedicated to tapping into and drawing from the U.S.’s deep white nationalist roots and their accompanying sexism,” Wheaton professor Dr. Nathan Luis Cartagena wrote in his observations over Trump’s apparent sway over White Christians.
“Since ascending to office, he’s labored to establish Trumpism identity politics for White folks. And the Republican establishment has coddled his efforts, as Sen. McConnell’s four-year defense of President Trump makes clear,” Cartagena added.