Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism
Hi everyone. This newsletter is for Swedenborgians (and friends) who want to learn how to support anti-racism. But we are not going to pretend that we are experts here; we are learning alongside you. There are lots of activists and educators who have been working in the anti-racism field for a long time. Our plan (in the words of Meera Mohan-Graham) is to Absorb and Amplify those voices, and follow their lead. So, the items in this newsletter are mostly links and excerpts pointing you towards other resources.

As we all strive to learn, change, and act together, we invite you join the Manifold Angels Facebook group for connection throughout the journey. The work is just beginning. 

This is an (approximately) bi-weekly newsletter, though the schedule may change occasionally. Some editions will be a deep dive into a particular issue (you can find links to these at the end of the newsletter). Other editions will be more personal/devotional, aiming to help build stamina and commitment for the ongoing work for racial justice. Thanks for joining us!
A Note From Your Editors...
Hello! We thought we would just drop in for a moment...

As with many of our topical issues, this issue tackles a heightened topic, which might well trigger us in the realms of political, national, religious, racial and/or gender identity. This is just a note to remind us all to breathe as we do this work, and to remember that we gather here in order to learn the difficult things because we want to able do good in the world. We want to learn how to manifest love with wisdom in order to create effective change for the sake of our fellow human beings.

As with all that we offer in our newsletters, we invite you to read the following with curiosity and reflection, noticing what it brings up for you and why, with a commitment not to turn away when we feel uncomfortable. 

And also, we invite you to take care of yourself as needed, with the commitment to return and continue processing.

We are doing this work together, and not just because it is nice to be in community, but because community gives us the courage to look at the hard things we might otherwise avoid, and helps us to trust that the journey towards change is worth it. We are so grateful to be in community with you all. Please feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss more.

Alex and Shada

The January 6 insurrection was about much more than Donald Trump and his “Big Lie,” the lie about the election being stolen, about widespread voter fraud, the one that declares he actually won the 2020 presidential election. At the core of the insurrection was the Big White Lie, the one about white supremacy, the one that says this country belongs to white people, that white power (especially white Christian male power) must be safeguarded, that diversity threatens to destroy the white race, and those threats are justification for violence.

Excerpted from American Myths Are Made of White Grievance—and the Jan. 6 Big Lie Is Just the Latest – Mother Jones
Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, has been gathering information on rioters who faced prosecution for their involvement on January 6. He and his “little army of researchers” have analyzed 890 insurrectionists and the 439 counties in 47 states from which they came. The rioters were 92 percent white and 86 percent male. Only 14 percent had extremist ties. They were far less likely to be unemployed or have a criminal record than right-wing protesters arrested earlier in the Trump era. They were also older, mostly in their 40s and 50s. But what especially jumped out to Pape and his colleagues was that more than half were from counties that Joe Biden won. The more rural a county was, and the more its voters favored Trump over Biden, the less likely it was to produce an insurrectionist.

There was another striking common denominator: The more a county’s white population declined, percentage wise, the more likely it was to send a would-be rioter to the Capitol. “Race is the primary factor,” Pape says, accounting for “as much as 75 percent of the energy underneath the insurrectionist movement.” It’s not that the rioters were duped by Trump, but that his lies found fertile ground amid their fears. “The word ‘disinformation’ is off,” Pape says. “It’s about demographic change and whether you’re afraid of it or not.”

That’s true not just of the rioters themselves, but also of people who agree with them. Pape’s team conducted two national surveys, which suggested that 21 million Americans—8 percent of the body politic—believe that Biden stole the election and that violence would be justified to restore Trump to power. They identified two key conspiracies undergirding these dual beliefs: Nearly half the people who hold them are convinced there is a “secret group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles” running the country. And a whopping three-quarters believe in the so-called great replacement, the idea that white Americans are being supplanted by people of color.

In other words, even though race was not the only factor driving the insurrection, the data Pape’s team collected shows that white grievance was the primary motivator. “There’s a clear racial cleavage that you see in our data, and that is what is also captured in the ‘great replacement theory.’”

Excerpted from At the Jan. 6 hearings, race isn't discussed much. Still, it's a central issue

In the opening moments of the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, Chairman Bennie Thompson drew a line across history, connecting the Lost Cause to the Big Lie.

"I'm from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and lynching," Thompson began.

"I'm reminded of that dark history as I hear voices today try and justify the actions of the insurrectionists on Jan. 6, 2021."

The Lost Cause is the racist myth that justifies chattel slavery. It tells a false story of generous slave owners and happy slaves, as well as lies that the Civil War wasn't really fought over slavery — it was about states' rights. Everything that follows, the nadir of American race relations, the violent dismantling of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the erections of Confederate monuments and the conflation of a treasonous Confederate flag with patriotism, are all in the name of this Lost Cause.

The Big Lie has come to mean the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election but that it was stolen from him. It was a lie so large that it drove the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and extended out to include another lie, one that painted the violent attempt to overturn the election as a peaceful protest.

Just as the Lost Cause denied the brutal racism of slavery in order to perpetuate violent inequity through other means, at the heart of the Big Lie is also a drive to protect a racist order, according to Stanford University political scientist Hakeem Jefferson.


January 6 insurrectionists were not, for the most part, right wing extremists. They were mainstream Americans. 

Excerpted from Behind the Scenes at CPOST, the Research Center That Unearthed Major Findings on January 6 – Chicago Maroon

[...] CPOST’s research into the January 6 insurrection has revealed two surprising, and for many worrying, conclusions: Not only do the insurrectionists come from a variety of demographic backgrounds and socioeconomic classes, but 8 percent of the U.S. population agrees with the insurrection’s main tenets. This figure dwarfs the rates of support for other notable waves of modern political violence, Pape explained. 

“People who are familiar with political violence might think, ‘Well, 21 million, that’s 8 percent of Americans. What’s the big deal?’ Well, the big deal is that’s not 1 percent or half a percent. That is what we find in other cases—[the Troubles in] Northern Ireland, Germany during the ’70s and ’80s—which led to the rise of sustained terrorist campaigns in modern liberal democracies, and those are coming from this level of community support. So this isn’t a ‘How do I find the needle in the haystack?’ [or] ‘lone wolf’ problem like [the Islamic State]. This is a different situation,” Pape said. 

Pape and research director Keven Ruby coauthored an article in The Atlantic illustrating this initial set of discoveries. The data showed, in Pape’s words, a “surprising” set of characteristics and commonalities among the insurrectionists: Whereas previous violent right-wing offenders were multiple times more likely to be unemployed than the national average, the unemployment rate of the January 6 insurrectionists—9 percent in this initial survey—was just a few percentage points above the national rate of 6.3 percent recorded in January 2021. 

Additionally, while previous generations of violent right-wing instigators came from rural counties with predominantly Republican voters, the majority of the January 2021 rioters came from urban and suburban areas with similar numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Many came from middle-class backgrounds and worked as doctors, lawyers, and other white-collar occupations. And although militia members were, according to Pape, “plastered all over the news media,” his research showed that they constituted only a small minority of the insurrectionists.  

“That’s when we first really understood that what we were seeing was not the fringe of America breaking into the Capitol,” he said. “What we’re seeing is really collective political violence in the mainstream of America in ways we hadn’t seen before.” 

....[CPOST] analysis of the January 6 insurrection found that participation in the insurrection was best predicted by belief in the Great Replacement Theory, which posits that the Democratic Party is changing its electorate by bringing in immigrants who would reliably vote for the party. Seventy-five percent of the 21 million holding insurrectionist sentiments subscribed to the theory, according to CPOST’s September 2021 survey


Excerpted from January 6 Hearings and the Big Lie’s Ongoing Damage to Democracy | Brennan Center for Justice 

Efforts to pass restrictive voting laws hit unprecedented heights following the 2020 election and continue at a rapid pace this year. States also face a new, burgeoning trend in the form of legislation that enables partisan actors to meddle in election administration and vote-counting processes — otherwise known as election interference legislation.

These attacks are not coincidental. Brennan Center research found that in 2021, the vast majority of these bills were sponsored by the same state legislators who publicly questioned the validity of the 2020 election. And in many cases, these sponsors justified their legislation using the same discredited claims of widespread voter fraud and a stolen election that fueled the insurrection.

Our research also compared the text of new restrictive voting and election interference legislation with false allegations made in lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election. Like clockwork, the same disproven theories of widespread voter fraud, ballot irregularities, and conspiracies made in those lawsuits resurfaced with remarkable specificity in legislation introduced in 2021. Indeed, of the 17 states in which courts reviewed lawsuits challenging the 2020 election, 15 saw legislation that directly incorporated false claims from those suits.

Make no mistake — these legislative attacks work as intended. Mounting evidence shows that new voting restrictions already are disenfranchising voters, particularly voters of color, in post-2020 elections.


Excerpted from The Big Lie(s): Situating the January 6th Coup Attempt Within White Supremacist Lies - Andrea M. Hawkman, Sarah Diem, 2022

Historically, big lies have been told by authoritarian leaders and institutions in pursuit of shaping public perceptions and hoarding power. Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf about the susceptibility of people to succumb to big lies rather than to be persuaded by a multitude of small lies. Kluth (2021) observed, “Instead, a Big Lie is so ‘colossal’ (Hitler’s term) in inverting reality that the human mind struggles to grasp its audacity, leading many people to succumb” (n.p.). Hitler’s use of the big lie to promote the Nazi movement convinced thousands of people to accept anti-Semitic misinformation as truth and to participate in, support, and/or ignore systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing. To support the propagation of the big lie, Hitler and his affiliates utilized shared terminology to unify messaging and build consensus against those who refused to accept a big lie as truth.

Although Hitler’s conceptualization of a big lie is perhaps where the term originates, the strategy of intentionally peddling mis/disinformation2 in support of white supremacy did not begin with Nazi Germany. Hitler’s lies drew great influence from subjugation efforts common within the U.S. Jim Crow era (Whitman, 2017). Even further back in history, the U.S. origin story is constructed through big lies surrounding white supremacy, colonialism, and the mass genocide of Indigenous peoples (Hannah-Jones, 2021). Ideas such as “freedom,” “liberty,” and “justice” were understood through white supremacy and settler-colonialism and yet have been enshrined within U.S. law, policy, and practice as race-neutral concepts (Gotanda, 1991). Therefore, the foundation from which these ideas were pursued was built upon white supremacist lies. Race-based slavery, a cornerstone of the U.S. economic system of capitalism, was specifically built on the racist lie that Black people were inferior to white people. Collins (1990) noted that the era of enslavement in the United States also created four, interrelated controlling images constructed to further subordinate Black women within a postslavery economy: mammy, matriarch, welfare mother, and jezebel. These four controlling images are grounded in white supremacist lies and exist in “schools, the media, corporations, and government agencies” that “are essential sites for transmitting ideologies objectifying Black woman as Other. These institutions are not controlled by African-Americans and are clearly the source of and ultimate beneficiaries of these externally defined controlling images” (Collins, 1990, p. 85).


Excerpted from To end white supremacy, attack racist policy, not people | Berkeley News 

[...] Americans must focus on defeating white supremacist structures without condemning white people.

That’s according to Berkeley African American studies professor john powell, who said,  “We need a story that says, ‘No, this is a country for all of us.”

“When we reach out, as we should, and animate the voice of marginalized people of color, we also need to make sure we are holding a space for people who have organized around whiteness, not for whiteness itself, but for those people,” said powell, who is also the director of Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute. “And that’s hard, because it means criticizing and sometimes condemning the practice of white supremacy, but at the same time holding on to the people that practice it.”

Berkeley News spoke with powell about what political leaders and everyday American citizens can do to help in the efforts to battle white supremacy, and the importance of making sure everyone is recognized in the process.

Follow the link to read the interview with professor powell.


The unspoken role of race in the Jan. 6 riot : NPR 

Jan. 6 as white supremacy: New research on the toxic spread of "great replacement" theory | 

The Racist 'Great Replacement' Conspiracy Theory Explained | Southern Poverty Law Center  

Factsheet: Great Replacement/White Genocide Conspiracy Theory - Bridge Initiative 

American Face of Insurrection


O God, all holy one, you are our Mother and Father, and we are your children. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may be able to discern Your work in the universe and be able to see your features in every one of your children.

May we learn that there are many paths but all lead to you. Help us to know that you have created us for family, for togetherness, for peace, for gentleness, for compassion, for caring, for sharing.

May we know that you want us to care for one another as those who know that they are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, your family, the human family.

Help us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, so that we may be able to live in peace and harmony, wiping away the tears from the eyes of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And may we know war no more, as we strive to be what you want us to be: your children. Amen.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African activist and recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize

Photo by Brett Sayles

For more information, and to register, visit
Police Brutality
Intersectionality and LGBTQ Rights
White Privilege/White Fragility
Voting Rights and Voter Supression
Indigenous Rights
Racism in Education
Racism in Healthcare

Images of God

Anti-Racism Resources for Kids
Black History Month
Intersectional Feminism/Anti-Asian Racism
Environmental Racism
Critical Race Theory
Immigration Rights and Xenophobia
Restorative Justice
Civic Engagement
Interfaith Advocacy
The War on Black Trans Women
National Native American Heritage Month and Beyond

Just a note: the various viewpoints included in these newsletters (either by authors of content or the organizations they represent) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint or position of the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). The editors present them in the spirit of learning and reflection. 

(Editors: Rev. Shada Sullivan and Alex Gayheart)

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