It is precisely because we love both oppressor and oppressed that we demand the former seek forgiveness from the latter. Contrary to fashionable belief, the acknowledgement of immoral behavior is not a “politically correct” capitulation to “cancel culture.” Instead, Christian doctrine calls this acknowledgement “repentance.” The Greek word for repentance, metanoia, signifies “a deep sorrow for sin,” of which all who bear the imago Dei are capable. The Greek word for sin, hamartia, literally means “a failure to hit the mark”; it refers to a moral failing of either omission or commission, one that falls short of Christlikeness. Crucially, repentance is required even in cases where the image bearer was unaware of, or underestimated, the ramifications of their words or deeds (Proverbs 26:18-19). Furthermore, repentance must be accompanied by perceivable change, as illustrated in the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector in Luke 19:1-10. Just as the above politicians are called to a public rejection of their harmful words and deeds, the churches that have omitted accountability must also publicly reject their former patterns of obfuscation and rationalization. When such repentance takes place, then and only then can a true proclamation of the Gospel begin to go forth.
In light of the above, we call for the following:
1. That these self-identified Christian politicians publicly repent of the double standards, biases, slanders, and slurs that characterize their statements about China, Chinese people, and by extension Asians, admitting the harm that directly results from either inadvertent or deliberate incitement of hatred, and detailing steps they will take to undo that harm;
2. That, in the absence of a public repentance, the leaders of these politicians’ churches meet with the offending members, urging them to repent of the sin of racism and consequent endangerment of Asian lives;
3. That the leaders of these politicians' churches update the public when this measure has been taken;
4. That, in the event that these members do not repent, or apologize without changing, these churches institute disciplinary measures, up to and including stripping the offending members of membership;
5. That the leaders of each politicians’ home church offer an accounting of how such racism could be allowed to flourish in their churches, as well as a statement on their plans to combat anti-Asian racism at their churches and even materially contribute to the struggling Asian populations in their vicinity;
6. That, in the absence of a sufficient response from these churches to their offending members, other members of these churches withdraw material support from organizations complicit in racism;
7. That, in the case of churches that answer to a denomination or diocese but refuse to take sufficient action, the larger body investigate and, if necessary, expel that congregation from fellowship.
We make these demands even in the event that the politicians in question leave office.
We call for solidarity from all who support the above statement—not only those who identify as Christian, but also those of other faiths or no faith, who lament the networks of power and influence that have allowed xenophobia to take root in the nation’s houses of worship. Those of us who are followers of Christ also ask for forgiveness from those who do not identify as Christian, for our historic failure to take necessary steps against the hatreds our leaders have passively or actively enabled. Having tolerated the “model minority” myth for too long, we wish to model the Gospel’s challenge to the principalities and powers of this age.
In the words of the 1934 Barmen Declaration, which resisted the Nazification of the German church, Verbum Dei manet in aeternum. The Word of God will last forever.