AME Bishops Decry Trump Ad Linking Church to Violence and Implying Worshipers are “Thugs”

Screenshot from "Meet Joe Biden's Supporters" ad

By Cynthia Yeldell Anderson

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church issued a statement Monday denouncing a Trump campaign ad linking an AME Church to violence and implying that those who gathered there are “thugs.”

The ad “Meet Joe Biden’s Supporters” ends with footage of former Vice President Joe Biden kneeling before the altar in Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, in front of several Black clergy and community leaders. A moment later, “Stop Joe Biden and his rioters” appears across the screen as Mike Pence declares, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Church Bishops say the ad subtly incites white terrorism against people of color and attacks the Black Church and Black people for “refusing to bow down to the idol called white supremacy.”

The AME Church is the same domination that includes Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where in 2015 a white supremacist shot and killed nine worshipers gathered for Bible study.

“The AME Church, Black Churches, and the church of Jesus and Justice have been under attack because we stand and fight for the freedom, justice, and equality for all of God’s children,” according to the statement from AME the Council of Bishops. “We are deeply concerned about this 21st Century atmosphere of white rage and terror. Even now, the FBI is investigating vandalism against multiple AME Churches, and we continue to cope with the tragedy at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, S.C.”

In the statement, church leaders ask for:

  • An immediate apology to Bethel AME Church, Wilmington Delaware, and its Pastor, Dr. Silvester Beaman.
  • The removal of the ad from all networks.
  • Federal protection for Bethel AME Church, the people, staff, and community that uses the building daily.
  • An investigation by the Dept. of Justice and/or Homeland Security regarding the legality of the Trump campaign’s misrepresentation and photoshopping images, as well as analysis of the tone of the rhetoric as the language that might incite violence, and encourage racial tensions that lead to placing people of color in harm’s way.

“We are apprehensive that the history of burning and bombing Black churches is being stirred up by a political party that has lost its moral bearings,” according to the statement.  “We are deeply concerned that the white supremacist lynchings, murders, and assassinations of Black men and women, boys and girls in the past, is the plan for the present and future.”

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