January 6, 2021

A Message from the Dean on Unrest in Washington, D.C.

My friends,

Today we bore witness to a shocking act of violence against the foundation of American democracy itself.

Those who wish to undermine our most essential heritage—the certification of a fair election and the peaceful transference of power from one administration to the next—came to Washington, D.C. today, not at the bidding of a foreign power, but at the behest of Donald Trump, the President of the United States. This morning, they attended a rally in support of Mr. Trump and his ongoing, craven lies and falsehoods about a “stolen” election. At that rally the President incited the gathered crowd to undertake a terrorist act, a blatant act of sedition in betrayal of his oath of office.

He urged the crowd on toward the Capitol, where Congress was assembled to attend to its Constitutional duty. The President did not encourage the crowd to peaceful demonstration but rather incited them to violence. At his urging, this mob, many of the members of which were armed, stormed the steps of the Capitol, broke doors and windows, barged into the very chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In doing so they desecrated our seat of government and mocked the process and traditions that for more than two centuries have witnessed difficult elections yet maintained a peaceful transfer of power.

One person is dead, several others injured, the Capitol building soiled by their actions. Our very democracy has been soiled by these violent and hateful acts, urged on by a president who makes a mockery of his office and democratic government, all for his own selfish personal motives.

Donald Trump has mocked and used for his own ends the very people who believe themselves to be his most ardent supporters. But he doesn’t care. He has demonstrated that he has no loyalty to anyone but himself.

This is not the Christian way. The Christian call is to incite peace, to demonstrate against injustice and oppression and to walk in the way of love for the dignity of all people.

Much is still unfolding, and much remains to be understood in the light of day. I know many of us will have trouble sleeping tonight, a night in which the very bedrock of our American democracy has been shaken. On this sad night, I call all people of goodwill, and all those who seek to preserve our traditions of democratic government, to pray and act for an end to division. Let us pray for reconciliation and order to ensure that our nation may go forward. Tomorrow will come a new day, and our actions will help determine how the American people, and the American experiment in freedom, peace, and democratic governance, will continue on along the path of history.

The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III

Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine