The leadership board of Mennonite Church USA’s Western District Conference on Jan. 13 condemned President Trump’s alleged vulgar and dismissive reference to certain countries.
In a statement, the WDC Executive Board said it was “saddened and appalled” by words the president allegedly used Jan. 11 during talks about immigration reform, in response to lawmakers who asked about protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.
The remarks attributed to Trump, which many observers described as racist, caused a firestorm of criticism.
After The Washington Post reported on the meeting, the president published a series of tweets denying he used a vulgar word. He also said that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians.”
The WDC board criticized “the underlying sentiment toward immigrants” that the president’s alleged words reflect, “including immigrants in our churches.”
The statement continued: “We condemn his offensive and degrading language and attitudes toward immigrants, especially those from African countries and Haiti. We believe all peoples, wherever they are from, are loved by God and created in God’s image. We call on President Trump, other government officials and ourselves to apologize and repent of demeaning and racist language and attitudes. We call on the people of our churches to pray and act for the well-being of all people and to call our government to act in a way that reflects the value of all human beings.”
The board planned to send the statement to legislators from states where WDC has congregations — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska — and to the White House.
WDC Executive Board members are Anita Kehr, moderator, First Mennonite Church, Newton, Kan.; Ray Reimer, moderator-elect, Zion Mennonite Church, Elbing, Kan.; Allen Jantz, secretary, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton; Norma Duerksen, Trinity Mennonite Church, Hillsboro, Kan.; Kristen Swartley, Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City; Cynthia Loganbill, Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kan.; Jim Stucky, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton; Wayne Albrecht, Peace Mennonite Church, Dallas; Vicki Penner, Peace Mennonite Church, Lawrence, Kan.; Lesther Caceros, Iglesia Menonita Camino Nuevo, Dallas.
Another MC USA conference, Franconia, released a statement on its Facebook page on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, addressed to “our sisters and brothers from disparaged places like Haiti, El Salvador and all of the countries of Africa.”
“We honor you as deeply loved by God,” the statement says. “We recognize you as neighbors and partners in sharing Christ’s peace.”
The statement begins with a quote from King: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”