An Open Letter On Anti-Asian Racism & Christian Nationalism

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)

As of 2016, Sen. Sasse was a member of Grace Church in Fremont, NE. A lifelong Lutheran, Sen. Sasse also served as president of Midland College, a Lutheran institution, from 2009 to 2014. In an online commencement address to Fremont High School on May 16, 2020, Sasse said that "China started a big global pandemic," continuing, "We're Americans, we're Nebraskans . . . we're going to have a serious reckoning with the thugs in China who let this mess spin out of control by lying about it." Sen. Sasse omitted President Trump's numerous lies about coronavirus. His "joke" that students should "thank China" for their parents having to multitask as teachers and coaches is mirrored in the above Salina, KS incident (see Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo), as well as at least two incidents reported by Stop AAPI Hate: a 16-year-old student in New York reported seeing, on their school's online page, a post that read, "Our entire year was ruined by the Chinese. Thank you, r----ds. From the non-Chinese" (p. 15); another Asian person received a voicemail that included the words, "I think it's pretty ignorant for your government not to protect that virus; to let that virus come out and ruin the world. Thanks, China" (p. 3). Fremont school board member Michael Petersen later criticized the "racism" in Sen. Sasse's speech.

Grace Church is headed by Pastor Kyle McClellan. Its website says, "We want you to feel welcome," and asks newcomers to "come as you are." The Presbyterian Church of America, to which Grace Church answers, published a 2018 position paper on "Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation," which records that surveyed PCA congregants recommended "public discipline and calls for repentance for those found guilty of racism" (p. 642). The report also notes that 63% of surveyed teaching elders believe "racism is a systematic problem in the church."

As of 2019, Nebraska had an Asian population of 47,740. Between March 19 and August 5, 2020, 4 hate crime incidents in Nebraska were reported to Stop AAPI Hate (8).