A statement for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

3/21/2022 2:35:00 PM

Immanuel, God with us, we pray for the world and the plague that racism has brought upon your people, destroying nations and erasing identities. As a church, we recognize our own complicity in racial discrimination, acknowledging the pain that we have caused to our fellow siblings in Christ. Release the grip on those who are lured by the false premises of white supremacy. Be with our siblings who were turned away during times of crises because of racial discrimination, despite being equal to all others fleeing war, hostility and crime. Hear the voices who cry out to you; who have been cast aside through racial discrimination; who are weary from striving to be seen as made in your image; who worry about their children, grandchildren, siblings and parents as they navigate their daily lives under the constant threat of discrimination and violence. Embolden us to speak up and end the stain of racial discrimination that marks our minds and hearts. Grant us hope for a time when no one is turned away because of race, no one fears being left behind because of discrimination, and no one must struggle to survive because of prejudice. Amen. 

Statement from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in recognition of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, reaffirms its commitment to combat racism and white supremacy. This day is set as a recommitment in remembrance of the day police in South Africa killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in 1960. The ELCA has been part of the overarching problem of racism and discrimination throughout its history, stating in its Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent that it apologizes:

"For its historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. We lament the white church's failure to work for the abolition of slavery and the perpetuation of racism in this church. We confess, repent and repudiate the times when this church has been silent in the face of racial injustice.

"The ELCA acknowledges that slavery created and perpetuated racism, a truth this nation and this church have yet to fully embrace. The enslavement of Africans was based on a false narrative of the racial inferiority and the demonization of black people by the majority culture. Slavery was supported by white religious, legal, political, and scientific leaders and institutions for social, political, and economic gain."

Yet racism continues, with innumerable injustices occurring daily here in the United States and within our church, both through complicity and improper action. The ELCA remains committed to dismantling racism and white supremacy, acknowledging that the work must be done both internally and externally. 

As we see the stains of racism here at home, we also witness it throughout the world, especially in Ukraine, where reports of discrimination against non-Europeans fleeing the war have come to light, with many African, Middle Eastern and South Asian nationals turned away from transportation out of the nation or denied entry into other countries. 

The ELCA is a member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a global communion of churches.  We echo the words from LWF General Secretary Anne Burghardt, in speaking out against these actions and other acts of racial discrimination that occur daily throughout the world. 

As Burghardt says: "Racial and ethnic discrimination is a violation of human dignity, human rights and human decency. In times of war, we must be committed to stand together, safeguard dignity and welcome the stranger." 

The church joins the LWF in reiterating the calls issued on March 3 by the director general of the U.N. International Organization for Migration and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and others for attention and urgent action on this.  


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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 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


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