Raleigh, N.C. — A denomination not known for controversy is taking stances on issues such as assault weapons, universal health care and President Donald Trump’s border wall.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a declaration during a meeting of the denominations leaders in St. Louis to stake out positions on several social issues, leaving it up to the church’s 10,000 congregations and 1.7 million members to decide whether to stand behind the declaration.
“As confessing Christians, we trust God, whom we know through Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray as others pray in other names.
We are obligated to declare our concerns about the direction towards autocracy that our country is taking.
We say Yes to God’s power of love and justice for the neighbor as well as the self, and we say No to demonic power that urges hate of the other, scatters blame, and creates civic discord.
We say Yes to our imperfect democracy with one person, one vote, and No to any corruption of our elections.
We say Yes to universal health care and No to care based on the ability to pay.
We say Yes to safe schools, houses of worship, and public gathering places; and No to civilian access to assault and/or military-style weapons.
We say Yes to core human values and No to dividing our humanity by ideology and partisanship.
We say Yes to bridges and preservation of families and No to walls.
We say Yes to affirming and celebrating the full spectra of human identity and No to discrimination and bigotry.
We say: ‘In life, and in death we belong to God.'”
“I think that to not do it is to not to be true to who Jesus is calling us to be. It’s a question of how we do it, I think,” said Ted Church, executive of the Presbytery of New Hope, which oversees 170 churches from Mebane to the Outer Banks.
Still Churn said the declaration, which includes oblique references to Trump’s administration, is likely to cause controversy in many congregations.
“I do not go out and say to the churches that this is what your session needs to affirm,” he said. “I go out and say, ‘Let’s have a conversation about this.'”
According to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are Republicans and 47 percent are Democrats.
There is no deadline for churches to decide whether they are on board with the declaration, and denomination leaders said all voices are welcome to stay at the table, regardless of their decision.
“I know there are some who struggle and we’re not on the same side of the issue, but we need to be able to talk about it,” Churn said.