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Interview with Jim Winkler (president of the US National Council of Churches) who places the fight against racism and rampant economic injustices as a priority for the launch of the Biden presidency

Joe Biden therefore, barring sensational surprises that at the moment seem to have no reason to be, he will be the 46th president of the United States of America, the second Catholic after John Kennedy. His deputy will be a woman for the first time, the Baptist Kamala Harris. One of the most troubled votes in history is drawing to a close, above all due to the “backlash” of outgoing President Donald Trump who does not seem willing to guarantee a linear transition of powers, thus breaking a consolidated tradition in the country. And blowing on the fire of dangerous controversy at the risk of setting fire to the country.

A significant weight in the electoral process has historically been the churches, in all their multifaceted characteristics. We have learned over the years to know as much as some of the so-called evangelical have expressed unreserved support for the more conservative candidates, while very different positions are expressed by the varied National Council of Churches (NCC), which groups together 38 Christian denominations, from Presbyterian to United Methodist, from various Baptist acronyms to episcopal, Orthodox and others, for a total of about 45 million people. Welcoming the neighbor whoever he is, solidarity, fraternity, social and climatic justice, are i Leitmotiv of the requests that denominations grouped in the NCC share and ask the candidates on duty to honor. Jim Winkler since 2013 he has been president and general secretary of the NCC. We joined him to comment almost directly on the outcome of the vote

– First of all, what is your general opinion on what is happening after the votes? The threat of appeals, the accusations about a “false” vote. A sad ending to such an important moment in the democratic life of any nation?

«The votes are being counted, other recounting will certainly be requested and carried out and the National Council of Churches is asking that this process be completed without shadows. We ask everyone to be patient as the votes are tabulated. The American population, stressed by a much shouted election campaign, must now show maturity and calm ».

– The Churches cannot, or rather could not, openly express a preference for one or the other of the candidates (with many exceptions seen over the years), and the NCC has always been very careful not to abuse its role, but never like this time the appeals to democracy, to the values ​​to be chosen, seemed to me a clear signal of preference and of what is at stake. Is that so?

«The Churches that make up the National Council of Churches they were very careful to follow the rules. We have not indicated which side to take during the long electoral campaign. Our Churches have been clear that we need a president who creates an efficient national strategy to overcome the Coronavirus, who prepares to thoroughly fight racism, tackle climate change and end the economic injustice it creates too many. disparity. There are other churches that have made explicit their desire to see President Trump re-elected and I believe they have given him a great hand in terms of votes collected ”.

– In practice, all analysts underline the division between two Americas, or rather, between two visions of America, apparently irreconcilable due to the values ​​that characterize their existence. Do you believe that this is the case and what primary cause do you identify in this fracture?

“Yes, there is a disconnect between two Americas. There are many reasons, but racism is a significant factor. The truth is that much of the white population of the United States fears a future in which they will no longer have control of the nation, as has been the case until now. Within the next 20 years, the white population will cease to be the majority but this is not something to fear. We need to create a better society where all parties share the leadership and the opportunities of our nation ».

– What will be the role of the Churches in the coming days, in the coming weeks?

«Our Churches must be the voice of reason and calm. We must insist on a peaceful transition of power as has always been the case. It would be very sad and dangerous to continue to take the battle to extremes. The wounds have to be healed, there is no need to throw more salt ».

Photo: Delpixel / Shutterstock

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