President Donald Trump needs to be crystal clear in his condemnation of the so-called alt-right, a group of Southern Baptist and other evangelical leaders said in a letter addressed to the commander in chief. The document, first obtained exclusively by CNN and published September 29, urges Trump to “join with many other political and religious leaders to proclaim with one voice that the ‘alt-right’ is racist, evil, and antithetical to a well-ordered, peaceful society.”

The letter—drafted by the Reverend William Dwight McKissic, senior pastor at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and Keith Whitfield, a professor and dean at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—comes in the wake of Trump’s varied and widely criticized responses to white nationalist rallies that turned violent in August in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president alternated between blaming both sides for the violence and condemning groups like white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan.

The events in Charlottesville “reminded us of a time years ago when such brazen displays of bigotry and white supremacy were common and were upheld by political leaders,” reads the letter, which is now also available on a site where leaders beyond the original 39 signatories can add their names. “We have overcome much racial injustice, but we fear that without moral clarity and courageous leadership that consistently denounces all forms of racism, we may lose the ground that we have gained toward the racial unity for which so many of us have fought. Our nation remains divided racially and ideologically.”

The letter includes a section thanking Trump for signing a joint resolution on September 14 that condemned the violence in Charlottesville and rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. But that document did not mention the alt-right.

“This movement has escaped your disapproval,” the letter says, despite the racial supremacy expressed by leaders such as Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer. It continues:

We believe it is important for this movement to be addressed, for at its core it is a white identity movement and the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists. This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.

After Charlottesville, McKissic says, he tried to get a sense of where the president stood on the events that transpired and the groups that participated, including the alt-right. “It was unclear to me then and unclear to me now,” he tells Newsweek. “Obviously, he knows how to be very clear and specific and leave no room for doubt when he opposes something.”

But Trump has allowed his public feelings about the alt-right to remain ambiguous, even as leaders of both the National Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention denounced the movement.

McKissic worked with Whitfield, who he says led the effort to write the letter to make it clear this was a united response. “This is not a racial response. This is a kingdom response. The kingdom of God stands opposed to what the alt-right stands for. We ask the president to stand with kingdom of God,” he says.

It’s also not political, he emphasizes. “Whenever the church gets in bed with politics, it’s the church that always gets pregnant,” he says. “We’re not aligning with either political party. We’re talking about calling out darkness, and the alt-right represents spiritual darkness on the offensive, attacking our Pledge of Allegiance, our Constitution.”

The goal of the letter is to try to elicit an explicit statement from the president condemning the alt-right movement and the bigoted views many of its members espouse. McKissic says he prays it will get president’s attention. Trump “clearly has some history of a relationship with alt-right,” he says, pointing to former members of his administration as well as the support Trump received from the movement during and after his election campaign. “It needs to be made clear that people with alt-right ties and connections are not welcome in this administration.”

Dozens of people have added their names to the letter, including Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. McKissic says Rodriguez’s affiliation as a member of Trump’s informal evangelical advisory boardadds weight to the letter.

However, “this is not an attack on the president. This is a loving plea to the president to stand with religious leaders, to uphold the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance and the Declaration of Independence,” says McKissic, who calls the country a “racial tinderbox.” He says he’s never seen the level of polarization, division and distrust he sees today.

“A house divided cannot stand,” he says. “Our land needs healing, and we need our president to lead the way.”

The White House has yet to release a statement about the alt-right in response to the letter and did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment.


  1. edingess Says:

    What you need to do Dwight is model what “honoring the King” looks like. It is a sin to dishonor the king and no godly leader makes it a habit to lead his folks down such a path. Be a better model of godly leadership. Put your Christianity before your skin color and your politics. Or, resign and enter politics. Seems like that may be a better fit for you sir, with all due respect of course.

  2. Dwight Mckissic Says:


    Please address the content of the letter or the Newsweek article. Please refrain from lecturing me on what I need to focus on. Your comment here is totally irrelevant to the subject matter at hand. Either interact with the article or the letter to POTUS asking him to make his stance on the alt-right clear, or refrain from commenting here. Thanks.

    1. edingess Says:

      I can respect your wishes. However, I would love to engage you in debate around your activities as a professing minister and pastor of the gospel that I love. I believe that men like you, going all the way back to the Constantine cancer that infected the church, are leading believers down a very bad path.

      No, it is not my place, nor is it your place or anyone else’s place to insist that the POTUS make statements about white supremacy just because I demand it. I believe that the POTUS is unregenerate. My only comment to him is that he repent of his unbelief and embrace Jesus Christ, confessing his as his Lord and Savior.

      Men like you are walking in lock-step with American culture, using your followers to manipulate leaders to get your way…even to force leaders to say things EXACTLY the way you want them to say it or else! That is not Christ. That is not Christianity. That is not the gospel. And those who think it is reveal a profound ignorance of the truth of the light of Christ revealed in Scripture.

      1. Bob Cleveland Says:

        edingess: I know Dwight McKissic. Your remarks are asinine.

  3. Scott Shaver Says:

    Mckissic, for someone who appears to be obaessed with rooting out white supremacists among the SBC, why have you never requested removal of the confederate icons from Southern Seminary or the office of Russell Moore ( a guy you laud constantly). Guess you’re not so uncomfortable with the “big house” after all. Hypocrisy is glaring my friend

  4. edingess Says:

    Can anyone imagine Paul or Peter urging the church to take up a petition in order to send it over to Caesar insisting that he adopt the church’s position on an issue? Honor the emperor! Submit to the civil authority. He is God’s minister. Respect him! This practice that modern evangelicals engage in has no warrant in Scripture. We seem to think that America has an obligation to Christians. She has to protect our rights, ensure our freedoms, an enforce our values. Christian’s aren’t called to end racism in the world any more than we are called to end divorce, prostitution, adultery, or any other sin. We are called to preach the gospel! Make disciples! Baptize converts. To teach men the commandments are God.

    We are not called to manipulate politicians into adopting our views and imposing Christian dogma on the unregenerate. Such thinking is not the product of biblical exegesis. It is the product of men. Men who are, in their own little way, building kingdoms of their own. McKissic is responsible to God for teaching his people to honor and respect POTUS and all the other political leaders whom God has put in place. He is responsible to God to teach his people the practice of Christian forgiveness. It seems to me that he is not very interested in doing these things. At a minimum, he isn’t doing them. What he is doing is teaching people that it is perfectly fine to hold on to past hurts, past offense. He is teaching people that the sin of racism is different. It is a sin that one does not have to forgive others for. He teaching them that it is okay to manipulate, to intimidate, and to make demands of penance all in the name of racial equality. It is repugnant for gospel preacher to do the things he is doing. He ought to be disciplined for his behavior, and his message of unforgiveness. They are clearly opposed to the biblical position on such matters.

    1. Scott Shaver Says:

      This is more about profile than principle. That much is obvious.

      1. Scott Shaver Says:

        Really? Scrubbed your blog of yesterday’s dialogue I see. Knew you wouldnt want to let that stand, LOL.

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