Serving God, Changing Lives

Statement on Illinois anti-Semitic messages

Monday, May 18, 2020

“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with
you and 

your descendants after you”

(Genesis 9:9).

Dear church,

In today’s lectionary text,
Genesis 9:8-17, Noah receives God’s covenant. The rainbow becomes a sign of the
irrevocable promise of God’s faithfulness and mercy — of God’s peace for all
creation. So, too, are we called to be signs of, or witnesses to, God’s peace.

With you, we are alarmed by a
completely different kind of sign. As you know, protests against stay-at-home
orders have erupted over the past few weeks. Protesting is a
valid public expression, but here in Illinois, protesting has included people
carrying placards with anti-Semitic messages directed at our governor, J.B.
Pritzker. There is a twisted logic in comparing our Jewish governor with the
Nazi regime,
but the impact of
these messages is still to promote anti-Semitism and its evil companions: white
supremacy, racism and sexism.
We, the ELCA bishops in Illinois, publicly
denounce this bigotry here and wherever it occurs. Anti-Semitism is contrary to
the irrevocable promise of God and “a violation of our hope and calling” as
witnesses to God’s peace (
Declaration
of the ELCA to the Jewish Community
, 1994).

In our ELCA social teaching we
acknowledge that there are times when “through faithfulness in its life and
activities as a community for peace, the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit
becomes a presence for peace that disturbs” (
For
Peace in God’s World
, 1995). This is one of those times. Even as we seek peace amid a
pandemic, we must uphold our commitments to our Jewish neighbors. No matter our politics or opinions about our elected leaders
and their policies, all of us must come together on the basis of our church’s
commitments to “oppose the deadly working of such bigotry” (1994 Declaration).  

In Christ’s love, all of us
continue to pray for Governor Pritzker and all our elected leaders as they make
difficult decisions intended to protect lives. As a church, we encourage one
another to abide by government policies that seek to safeguard the health and
well-being of our communities, and to participate in healthy forms of civic
engagement.

In peace and in partnership,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Rev. John Roth
Bishop, Central/Southern Illinois Synod

The Rev. Yehiel Curry
Bishop, Metropolitan Chicago Synod

The Rev. Jeffrey Clements
Bishop, Northern Illinois Synod

– – –
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
Public Relations Manager
773-380-2877
Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org


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