More than 225 members of the Wheaton College faculty and staff have signed a statement condemning the “wicked leadership” of President Trump and also criticizing evangelical leaders who – the statement says – “wittingly propagated lies” about the 2020 election.
The statement, which addresses last week’s mob attack on the capitol building but also the controversy surrounding the election results, has been signed by 231 current and emeritus faculty and staff.
Wheaton College, located in Wheaton, Ill., is one of the most prominent and influential evangelical schools in the United States. Notable alumni include Billy Graham and Jim Elliot.
“The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership – especially by President Trump – but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols,” the statement says. “The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College.”
The statement also criticizes Christian leaders for their public statements about the election in recent weeks as President Trump was alleging the results were “rigged.” Their comments – the statement says – helped lead to the attack on the capitol.
“In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump – diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did,” the statement says. “However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.”
“We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas,” the statement says in a concluding paragraph. “Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian. We pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us all manner of idolatry, and we commit to speaking plainly against it wherever and whenever we find it. We commit ourselves to a more faithful witness in our callings as the faculty and staff of Wheaton College, and will work diligently to provide ample opportunities to show students, as well as the larger Wheaton College and Christian community, how to practice discernment in civic engagement, to demonstrate the connections between love and justice, and to courageously communicate the truth – even and especially when the truth is difficult to hear.
“We pray that, in so doing, we will fulfill the Lord’s requirement of us: ‘To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God’ (Micah 6:8).”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.