Faith leaders decry Trump’s ‘cabinet of bigotry’

“We were made for this moment. We must resist.”

CREDIT: Bend the Arc
CREDIT: Bend the Arc

A diverse group of progressive faith leaders decried President-elect Donald Trump’s list of cabinet appointments and advisers on Wednesday, condemning them as a “Cabinet of Bigotry” and calling on the business mogul to replace his selections with more inclusive voices.

A coalition of Muslims, Jews, left-wing Christians and others gathered at Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, D.C. for a press conference to voice their misgivings about Trump’s administration-in-waiting. Rev. Jennifer Butler, head of progressive religious advocacy group Faith in Public Life, began the event by railing against the appointments of Jeff Sessions to U.S. Attorney General as well as Steve Bannon—who she described as a “white nationalist leader”—to White House chief strategist.

“These unprecedented, radical appointments threaten our very democracy, and degrade our national values,” she said. “People of color, immigrants, religious minorities, and those of us who stand with them are alarmed. And as people of faith, we will stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

Other speakers included Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block of the Jewish group Bend the Arc, Rev. William Barber, a rising star within the religious left, and Khizr Khan, a “gold star father” and Muslim American who became famous for his stirring anti-Trump speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention.

“My faith teaches that the Creator never puts His creation in jeopardy without also providing the solution,” Khan reportedly said. “We have chosen to do good in this time of difficulty…as people of faith.”

Attendees were a veritable who’s-who of progressive faith leaders, a cadre of left-leaning clergy whose voices are beginning to rise in opposition to Trump’s presidency—especially in resistance to policies that target religious minorities. Several of the speakers made mention of Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, for instance, as well as his plan to force those in the country to register with a national database.

“We don’t get to choose the historical moment we live in but we do get to choose how we respond,” Kimelman-Block said. “We were made for this moment. We must resist.”

The group plans to present Congressional leadership with a petition signed by 2,500 religious leaders denouncing Trump’s list of cabinet picks and asking lawmakers to reject them.

“[We reject] Steve Bannon, formerly led the far-right website Breitbart News, which has ceaselessly promoted racist, sexist, antiSemitic and homophobic rhetoric that degrades the human dignity of millions of Americans,” the petition reads. “In the coming days, our prayer is that you call on President-elect Trump to reject these white supremacists and appoint advisers who understand that forging a more tolerant, united and inclusive America is the best way forward.”

Trump is also facing religious opposition within his own party. Last week, a Republican member of the Electoral College vowed to vote for someone other than Trump on December 19, a decision he told ThinkProgress was rooted in his Catholic faith. Meanwhile, many conservative Mormons remain unimpressed with the business mogul’s bombastic demeanor and rhetoric, as do some white evangelical Christian leaders such as Russell Moore.