January 11th, 2021
Executive Board Statement by the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section
In light of the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and Congress of the United States of America, fueled and facilitated by white supremacy, invigorated by false narratives about what was a free and fair election, and incited by President Trump himself, the Executive Board of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section calls for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office by the invocation of the 25th Amendment or impeachment.
In February of 2017, the IBS-ELS Board of Directors expressed our grave concerns about the rise of hateful and divisive rhetoric, violence, and distrust that came in the wake of Donald Trump’s election (February 2017 Statement). In January of 2020, we leaned into Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s legacy to see the world from the perspective of those who suffer, and expressed our concerns about threats the Trump administration posed to the most vulnerable among us, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, immigrants, and the poor. We called for “ending Donald Trump’s presidency” (January 2020 Statement). In both statements, we offered theological and ethical insight from Bonhoeffer on discerning responsible actions in times of crisis. The threat posed to American democracy by this insurrection amplifies the need for immediate action.
On the day of the baptism of his godson, in May of 1944, Bonhoeffer speaks into a context much like our own, where the dominant church, consumed by the pursuit of its own power and preservation, has not only tolerated but supported authoritarian leadership. Bonhoeffer argues that given this troubling reality, Christians have lost their ability to proclaim a life-giving word to the world. Because “the words we used before must lose their power … we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings.” We call on Christians to band together with all persons of conscience and all institutions dedicated to truth and justice to fight for the preservation of democracy and seek justice for all human beings by holding accountable the leaders who have threatened American democratic foundations.
Jennifer M. McBride, President IBS-ELS
Lori Brandt Hale, Vice President IBS-ELS
Gaylon Barker, Treasurer IBS-ELS
John Matthews, Secretary IBS-ELS
Christian Collins Winn, Board Member
Michael DeJonge, Board Member
Stephen R. Haynes, Board Member
Matthew K. Jones, Board Member
David Krause, Board Member
Michael Mawson, Board Member
Keith Clements, Emeritus Board Member
Clifford J. Green, Emeritus Board Member
Barry Harvey, Emeritus Board Member
Michael Lukens, Emeritus Board Member
About the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section
Since its founding in 1973, the Society has pioneered research and scholarship on the life, historical context, and writings of Bonhoeffer. Working in close collaboration with Bonhoeffer’s best friend, theologian and pastor Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate Bethge, and scholars in Germany, the Society laid the foundation for the historical and textual study of Bonhoeffer’s life and work in the English-speaking world, culminating in the recently completed sixteen-volume translation of the German critical edition, the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, published by Fortress Press. The Society is now developing a centralized, public, virtual community, as a more accessible resource for undergraduate students, scholars, pastors, activists, and communities of faith to engage Bonhoeffer’s legacy in concrete ways: www.bonhoeffersociety.org