The Seventh-day Adventist movement formed in the United States in the 1860s, and many Church pioneers were ardent abolitionists. Ellen White frequently referred to the “sin of slavery,” which she attributed not only to slave owners, but to the economic and political structure of the nation at that time. Mrs. White wrote, “In this land of light a system is cherished which allows one portion of the human family to enslave another portion, degrading millions of human beings to the level of the brute creation. The equal of this sin is not to be found in heathen lands.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 258.
Unfortunately, racial and social injustices remain today. Fortunately, we continue to have Christ as our example. Our collective and individual responses to all injustice should mirror His principles. In the April 2021 statement “God’s Call to Live in Healing and Harmony,” the North American Division stated that, “as Jesus did, we must stand with and for those who are marginalized. When we fail to treat people with dignity and respect, or refuse to acknowledge the wrongs committed against them, we are guilty of mistreating God (Jer. 22:16). If we don’t do what we know is right, we have sinned (James 4:17). We must speak and act against racial injustices, historic inequities, and abuses of power. Love will govern our actions as we stand in the gap for those who have been mistreated (John 13:34).”
As Christians we are the recipients of restorative justice. While political solutions will never match the perfect justice found in Christ, the North American Division Public Affairs and Religious Liberty ministry embraces an approach to criminal justice that recognizes the dignity and value of all of God’s children. Justice is advanced when we promote accountability, prioritize rehabilitation, and provide spiritual, emotional, and physical support to prisoners and their loved ones.
While Christians celebrate our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20), we also recognize our duty to be engaged, conscientious citizens here on Earth. A fundamental component of democratic citizenry is the right to participate in the electoral process, and the North American Division Public Affairs and Religious Liberty ministry supports unencumbered voter access to polls. Just as in other areas of conscience, God’s gift of freedom of choice should be respected for citizens who wish to exercise their right to vote.
The NAD PARL team proudly serves on the leadership team of the Conscience and Justice Council (CJC), a coalition of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty directors committed to a biblical understanding of conscience and justice.