Western District board condemns president’s reported remarks

Jan 15, 2018 by

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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.

Franconia statement

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.”

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  • Gene Mast

    While the article admits the alleged nature of the comments, the rush to condemnation confirms to some of us the suspicion that some portions of the church are motivated primarily by politics. Rather than addressing the substance of the characterization of certain locales around the world and the merits of allowing immigration from cultures at odds with our own, WDC seized on allegations of vulgarity to attack a president they apparently dislike. Perhaps as a result of a lack of exposure to the pleasures of advanced academia and a career spent in the company of the distinctly blue collar, I get exactly what Trump meant, whether he used those words or not. Whether in his heart he is racist or not is beyond my purview, but the comments did not need to be construed as racist. Crude and vulgar, yes, but unproven as well. There is, however, a certain hilarity in the notion of people getting in high dudgeon over a mild vulgarity, roughly a year after celebrating a bunch of women wearing hats celebrating a very private body part. Or at least decent society once thought it was best kept private.

    • Evan Knappenberger

      So you’re mad about hats suggestive of genitalia, but not the fact that Trump inspired them by bragging about sexual assault. Very interesting. Tell me more about how great Trump is and how degenerate his critics are.

      Evan Knappenberger

      • John Gingrich

        So the vulgarity and profanity of last year’s march were not the fault of those who spoke and wrote it? Wow, that pretty much gives me license for any action or speech if I can find someone who provoked me. PS> the most vulgar chants I ever heard were small groups of counter-protesters at the national right-to life march in Washington.

      • Gene Mast

        Undoubtedly Trump is a degenerate. I don’t think I have ever defended an alternative view of that issue. Which completely misses the point. The standards of decorum I expect from church leaders and organizations are simply of a different order. Somehow Trump’s lack of respect for women caused Mennonites to further degrade what used to be called the fairer sex? Actually, I think I said there was something funny about the whole hat thing considered in juxtaposition with reaction to Trump’s remark, not that I was mad about it. Besides, having honed my skills at indignation over many years, at this advanced level of skill at outrage, I find I can be simultaneously disgusted with both sides, often a very useful talent, perhaps rising to the level of a gift.:-) But while we’re on the subject, did any of the official voices of MCUSA decry the unseemly nature of Mennonites participating in an explicitly pro-abortion rally while wearing gear that would embarrass anyone with a shred of modesty? Was it really necessary to enter the gutter just because your president appears to reside there at least on occasion?

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