[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Members of the US-based Episcopal Church have been responding to last week’s presidential election victory by Donald Trump. Following the election there has been an upsurge in violence and hate-crimes directed at ethnic minorities. Church leaders have been keen to damp down tensions and urge the “healing of America.”
Among them is Bishop Mariann Budde from the diocese of Washington – based around the US capital city. After listening to Trump’s victory speech in which he said that it was “time for the nation to come together,” Bishop Budde pledged to “take an active part in the healing of America.”
She said: “In faithfulness to God, we will seek the welfare of the cities, towns and communities in which we live. As Americans, we give thanks for the peaceful transfer of political power and we respect it.
“Yet healing from such a bruising campaign is not accomplished with one call to unity. Things have been said in this election that cannot be easily unsaid or forgotten. The president-elect made promises that if fulfilled would be devastating to our country. And so we will stand with those with reason to fear for their safety and will defend their place in our society. Nor will we forget the highest ideals of our nation and our call to follow Jesus in the ways of love.”
The provisional bishop of South Carolina, Skip Adams, said that responses to the election result “ranged from joy and delightful surprise to confusion, lamentation and grief.” He urged people “in Christian charity [to] be kind to yourself and one another, especially with those with whom you disagree,” and added: “our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being holds in all circumstances.”
He pointed to the “prayers for our country and president” in the province’s Book of Common Prayer, “where we ask of God that we be saved ‘from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.’
“Pray for Donald, our President-elect, that he be granted God’s ‘wisdom and strength to know and do God’s will . . . filled with the love of truth and righteousness.’
“As for me, I will continue to work tirelessly for the marginalised of our world. I hope that the election results make us even more resolute in response to this call, for it is in our actions of love and compassion where we will find resurrection hope and bring the love of Jesus to bear.”
The bishops of the diocese of Virginia sent a message to members of Latino congregations in their diocese. Bishops Shannon Johnston, Susan Goff, and Edwin Gulick, said that “many are experiencing fear and uncertainty” following the election.
“We write to you as your bishops to assure you that we stand against any efforts to harass or intimidate Latino / Hispanic persons,” they said. “We stand for a just immigration policy that allows families to stay together and provides a path to citizenship.
“We stand for the promise we make in the baptismal covenant to ‘work for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being.’ We stand with you not only symbolically, but will be there to stand with you literally if and when the time comes.”
In Minnesota, more than 90 clergy signed a joint letter pledging to work “for policies and systems that will bring healing and restoration and relief.”
They said: “We know that overt sexism, corruption, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia have not only been undercurrents of our political rhetoric this year, but, in many cases, prominent features of it.
“After the election, like many of you, we woke with a gnawing fear that that rhetoric might translate into acts of injustice against you, your families, and your bodies.
“As priests and deacons of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, we believe that every person is created in God’s image, imbued and blessed with inherent dignity and worth. We reject the notion that one group of people benefit only at the expense of another group. We will not sit idly by and allow the rights and dignity of any of our community to be threatened or revoked.
“We see you and we stand with you.”
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, has not commented directly on the election result. In a video message released the day after the election, but recorded as votes were still being cast, Bishop Curry said that it was part of “the democratic process” that the office holders elected that day would be a mix of Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“That’s how we govern ourselves in our country,” he said, “and we will all live with the results of those elections, but we will all live together as fellow Americans, as citizens.
“And so the time will come, to bind up our wounds, to overcome our differences, to reconcile with each other, to reach out to those who differ with us, and to be Americans: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
“And an America like that will truly be a shining city upon a hill.”
Individual votes for the Republican and Democratic candidates were very evenly matched in the election. Democratic rival Hilary Clinton just edged the popular vote with 47.7 per cent support compared to President-elect Trump’s 47.3 per cent. But under the US constitution’s electoral college, the result gives Republican Trump 306 votes compared to Clinton’s 232 when the electoral college meets on 19 December. The transition of power will take place on 20 January.
- The Episcopal News Service is collating post-election statements issued by different branches of the Episcopal Church. Click here to read them.