News Release

Churches Criticizing Governments

Rev. JOHN DECKENBACK
Conference minister for The United Church of Christ (the same denomination as Rev. Jeremiah Wright), Deckenback said today: “UCC has in its DNA from its very beginnings being responsible critics of our society. That’s rooted in the Amistad story (which holds a special place in UCC’s teachings).

“There is a need for criticism of the society. Why is the prison population totally disproportionately ethnic minorities? Such questions need to be raised here and internationally. Some of the language that individual ministers might use might make some uncomfortable, but to get to the point of repentance, you’ve got to acknowledge your misdeed.

“Unfortunately, we in the United States sometimes act like we’re God’s gift to the world. I just came back from Iraq and saw the results of the devastation our government’s policies have brought. If Martin Luther King were alive, he’d be saying once again, shame on you for what you’ve wrought.”

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER
Hagler is national president of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice of The United Church of Christ and senior minister of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. Hagler said today: “Part of what I’m finding is that many people do not understand what prophetic speech is. Critiques of the war or of racial injustice invoke prophetic speech. Prophetic speech by its very nature is provocative. We need to be wary of attacks that might muzzle the black church. If we did not have prophetic speech, we would not have had the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we would not have had Micah, we would not have had Jeremiah and we would not have had Jesus Christ himself.

“King spoke of the United States being ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ He focused on the Vietnam War and against economic injustice in the year before he was killed. And when he talked of those issues, he suddenly found that people who had been supporting him suddenly started attacking him.

“You cannot repent unless you make a confession. We have to make a confession to deal with racism, or sexism or xenophobia, both individually and collectively. Prophetic speech is a way that forces us to a place of moral responsibility.”
More Information

Excerpts of King’s sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967 are available online.

“Don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be — a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.’ …

“There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward Jim Clark,’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.’ There’s something wrong with that press! …”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167