The International Bonhoeffer Society has become the latest Christian group to issue an official call for President Donald Trump’s removal from office.
“As grateful recipients, and now custodians, of the theological, ethical and political legacy of the German pastor-theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we believe all persons of faith and conscience should prayerfully consider whether our democracy can endure a second term under the presidency of Donald Trump,” the group wrote in a statement obtained by Sojourners.
The statement lists a number of concerning moments from Trump’s presidency, from comments about and actions taken towards immigrants, refugees and people of color to “ill-advised” military action.
“We believe that an honest reckoning with these realities must lead to dismantling the dehumanizing ideologies and systemic inequities in which they are rooted,” it continues. “We believe that one crucial step in this reckoning is ending Donald Trump’s presidency.”
The group, which was founded in 1973 in partnership with Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate Bethge and his friend and colleague Eberhard Bethge, himself a notable German theologian and pastor. Since then, the group has sought to “offer quality resources for the study of Bonhoeffer’s life, thought, and legacy in order to support the public witness of Christian scholars, pastors, teachers, students and activists.”
The group also released a bulleted lists of reasons they believe their call is in line with the mission and teaching of Bonhoeffer himself. The pastor famously set aside his Christian pacifist ideals to join a group that plotted attempts on Hitler’s life. Bonhoeffer wrote that in such dire times as he was facing as a pastor in Nazi Germany, a person of conscience may have to consider extreme measures. “Before other men he is justified by dire necessity,” Bonhoeffer wrote. “Before himself he is acquitted by his conscience but before God he hopes only for grace.”
Eric Metaxas, the conservative radio show host, vociferous Trump apologist and author of the popular Bonhoeffer biography Bonhoeffer, dismissed the group’s statement over Twitter. “The culturally marxist academics who hijacked Bonhoeffer’s legacy for fifty years — until the 2009 publication of my biography — and who unconscionably pushed a profound misreading of his thinking & theology, are at it again,” he wrote. “Feel free to guffaw.”
Metaxas’ wrestling match with the Bonhoeffer Society over the legacy of the man himself probably won’t abate anytime soon, but Bonhoeffer himself took a longer, more urgent view of social action from people of faith. “For peace must be dared. It is the great venture,” he wrote. “The hour is late. The world is choking with weapons. …The trumpets of war may blow tomorrow. For what are we waiting?”