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Book of Resolutions: A Charter for Racial Justice Policies in an Interdependent Global Community

Racism is the belief that one race is innately superior to all other races. In the United States, this belief has justified the conquest, enslavement, and evangelizing of non-Europeans. During the early history of this country, Europeans assumed that their civilization and religion were innately superior to those of both the original inhabitants of the United States and the Africans who were forcibly brought to these shores to be slaves. The myth of European superiority persisted and persists. Other people who came and who are still coming to the United States, by choice or by force, encountered and encounter racism. Some of these people are the Chinese who built the railroads as indentured workers; the Mexicans whose lands were annexed; the Puerto Ricans, the Cubans, the Hawaiians, and the Eskimos who were colonized; and the Filipinos, the Jamaicans, and the Haitians who lived on starvation wages as farm workers.

In principle, the United States has outlawed racial discrimination; but in practice, little has changed. Social, economic, and political institutions still discriminate, although some institutions have amended their behavior by eliminating obvious discriminatory practices and choosing their language carefully. The institutional church, despite sporadic attempts to the contrary, also still discriminates.

The damage of years of exploitation has not been erased. A system designed to meet the needs of one segment of the population cannot be the means to the development of a just society for all. The racist system in the United States today perpetuates the power and control of those of European ancestry. It is often called "white racism." The fruits of racism are prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, and dehumanization. Consistently, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders have been humiliated by being given inferior jobs, housing, education, medical services, transportation, and public accommodation. With hopes deferred and rights still denied, the deprived and oppressed fall prey to a colonial mentality that acquiesces to the inequities, occasionally with religious rationalization.

Racist presuppositions have been implicit in US attitudes and policies toward Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. While proclaiming democracy, freedom, and independence, the US has been an ally and an accomplice to perpetuating inequality of the races and colonialism throughout the world. The history of The United Methodist Church and the history of the United States are intertwined. The "mission enterprise" of the churches in the United States and "Westernization" went hand in hand, sustaining a belief in their superiority.

We are conscious that "we have sinned as our ancestors did; we have been wicked and evil" (Psalm 106:6 GNT). We call for a renewed commitment to the elimination of institutional racism. We affirm the 1976 General Conference Statement on The United Methodist Church and Race, which states unequivocally: "By biblical and theological precept, by the law of the church, by General Conference pronouncement, and by Episcopal expression, the matter is clear. With respect to race, the aim of The United Methodist Church is nothing less than an inclusive church in an inclusive society. The United Methodist Church, therefore, calls upon all its people to perform those faithful deeds of love and justice in both the church and community that will bring this aim into reality."

Because we believe:

  1. that God is the Creator of all people and all are God's children in one family;
  2. that racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ;
  3. that racism denies the redemption and reconciliation of Jesus Christ;
  4. that racism robs all human beings of their wholeness and is used as a justification for social, economic, and political exploitation;
  5. that we must declare before God and before one another that we have sinned against our sisters and brothers of other races in thought, in word, and in deed;
  6. that in our common humanity in creation all women and men are made in God's image and all persons are equally valuable in the sight of God;
  7. that our strength lies in our racial and cultural diversity and that we must work toward a world in which each person's value is respected and nurtured; and
  8. that our struggle for justice must be based on new attitudes, new understandings, and new relationships and must be reflected in the laws, policies, structures, and practices of both church and state.

We commit ourselves as individuals and as a community to follow Jesus Christ in word and in deed and to struggle for the rights and the self-determination of every person and group of persons. Therefore, as United Methodists in every place across the land, we will unite our efforts within The United Methodist Church:

  1. to eliminate all forms of institutional racism in the total ministry of the church, giving special attention to those institutions that we support, beginning with their employment policies, purchasing practices, and availability of services and facilities;
  2. to create opportunities in local churches to deal honestly with the existing racist attitudes and social distance between members, deepening the Christian commitment to be the church where all racial groups and economic classes come together;
  3. to increase efforts to recruit people of all races into the membership of The United Methodist Church and provide leadership-development opportunities without discrimination;
  4. to create workshops and seminars in local churches to study, understand, and appreciate the historical and cultural contributions of each race to the church and community;
  5. to increase local churches' awareness of the continuing needs for equal education, housing, employment, and medical care for all members of the community and to create opportunities to work for these things across racial lines;
  6. to work for the development and implementation of national and international policies to protect the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all people such as through support for the ratification of United Nations covenants on human rights;
  7. to support and participate in the worldwide struggle for liberation in church and community; and
  8. to support nomination and election processes that include all racial groups employing a quota system until the time that our voluntary performance makes such practice unnecessary.

READOPTED 2000 and 2008

See Social Principles, ¶ 162A.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2012. Copyright © 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.