A “Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty,” signed by more than 80 U.S. faith leaders, was sent to members of Congress on Jan. 29.

Poverty and racism in the U.S. are inextricable, the declaration noted, and “they are theological issues for us, not merely political or partisan ones.”

Racism is a refutation of Genesis 1’s revelation that all people are created in God’s image and remains a fundamental, systemic, widespread problem in U.S. society.

“The historical sin of racism lingers on in America today,” the declaration stated, “continuing and evolving in our social systems of economics and education, policing and criminal justice, housing and gentrification, voting rights and suppression, in our racial geography, and, painfully, in the continued segregation of our churches, which adds to our own complicity.”

Similarly, failure to address systemic poverty is a rejection of “2,000 verses in the Bible clearly outlining God’s fundamental concern for people who are poor, vulnerable and oppressed, instructing the people of God to protect and help them and holding political leaders responsible for them.”

Local churches were urged to continue bridging divides and healing wounds caused by racism.

They also were encouraged to offer a united, moral witness about the sinfulness “of white racism, ethnic nationalism and hateful attitudes toward people of color, immigrants, refugees, Jews and Muslims” and about policies that negatively impact the poor.

“Conservative and liberal people, and those with differing political philosophies, may disagree on how to live up to our nation’s ideals, but our loving God calls all of us to work together for liberty and justice for everyone,” the declaration stated.

Signatories came from a wide range of Christian traditions, including American Baptist Churches USA, Armenian Orthodox Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Disciples of Christ, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mennonite Church USA, National Baptist Convention USA Inc., National Association of Evangelicals, Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc., Reformed Church in America and The United Church of Christ.

Among the eight Baptist signatories were Jeffrey Haggray, executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies; Rubén N. Ortiz, Latino field coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and Amos Brown, chair of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.’s Social Justice Commission.

The full letter is available here.

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