“Silence Equals Complicity” — Against the Wall Founders Issue Statement on Recent Shootings

In the wake of the most recent mass shootings in the United States, Michael Nixon and Ty Gibson, founders of the Against the Wall movement, issued a statement on August 7, 2019, condemning white nationalist terrorism. They are also circulating a petition that will be sent to the General Conference, North American Division, and Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Nixon, who serves as vice president of diversity and inclusion at Andrews University, and Ty Gibson, co-director of Light Bearers and lead pastor of Storyline Church, founded Against the Wall in 2017 as a movement to “speak with passionate clarity against walls of racial separation and injustice across the globe – both inside and outside the Adventist church…. ‘Against the Wall’ doubles as a metaphor to communicate that we are opposed to walls of racial separation and that we stand in solidarity with those who find themselves oppressed by walls of racism.”

The statement, titled “Silence Equals Complicity — Denouncing White Nationalist Terrorism,” reads in part:

As people of faith who are committed to tearing down walls of racial hatred, division and oppression, we categorically denounce Mr. Trump’s racist rhetoric and call on him to fully account for his racism and be the leader that the position of President requires him to be.

Having said that, it would be too easy for us to simply lay these problems at the feet of Mr. Trump. While his rhetoric, behavior, and policy positions certainly have not helped move us toward a “more perfect union,” the ills of racially motivated violence pre-date him by centuries. Contrary to contemporary attempts at revisionist history, America’s original sin of human chattel slavery was primarily motivated by the same belief in white supremacy that motivated the El Paso shooter to target and take away lives that he considered to be inferior to his. White supremacy’s dehumanizing effects extend not just to the image bearers of God that are falsely labeled as inferior, but it also extends to the white person who sadly falls into the lie that God made them superior and so they can do whatever they please to the “lesser” groups of people. This false belief in a hierarchy of human value must be eradicated wherever it rears its ugly head — from our politics, our schools, our communities and, of paramount importance to those who claim the banner of Christianity, from our churches.

The full statement is available on the Against the Wall website here.

In conjunction with the statement, Nixon and Gibson also posted a petition to Change.org, calling “on the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to release an official statement denouncing white nationalism.”

The petition continues,

We also believe that it is way past time for the church to write a theological statement on the topic of racism and take an honest, transparent look at the legacy of systemic racism which has plagued our global movement for centuries. We plan to send this petition to the leaders of the General Conference, the North American Division, and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. Our church can no longer remain silent in the face of the rise of white nationalism and the racist belief in white supremacy that fuels it. Racism's effects go beyond the interpersonal level and are deeply rooted into the fabric of America and will not be eradicated until the institutions in this country address those roots wherever they can be found. Please join us by signing this petition so that we can show the leadership of our church that we will not tolerate silence any longer.

In response to a request for comment, Nixon stated,

Ty and I are so grateful that so many people decided to support our statement by signing this petition. We really felt that, given the mission and vision of Against the Wall, we had to speak out against the act of white nationalist terrorism in El Paso. Beyond that, we also thought that it was time for our church — both members and leadership — to speak out in a more direct way as well.

We also feel that it is important for our church to wrestle with the legacy of systemic racism that has plagued our movement since its inception. Confession, repentance, and reparations (where possible) are necessary before any meaningful, biblical reconciliation can take place. We plan to send the statement, along with the petition and the signatures, to leadership at the GC and NAD next week.

There is still time to sign the petition and declare that you are also against the wall! Thank you again to all who have supported this initiative thus far. Keep a look out on our website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to stay updated.

The Texico and Ohio conferences both issued statements in the wake of the shootings that occurred in their territories on August 3 and August 4, respectively, but neither statement mentioned racism or bigotry. The NAD followed up with its own statement on August 7, condemning hatred, bigotry, and racism and stating in part, “As a church, we remind all that we should love equally and resolve to serve no matter race, gender, or cultural background. And we call on each person of this land to do the same. We also pray that our elected leaders will fulfill their sworn duty to protect the citizens of this country.”

In an August 8 comment on the petition, Michael Nixon said, “While we believe [the NAD statement] is a good start, we will remain engaged with them on some of the other issues we identified in the petition (namely, addressing the systemic racism that exists in our own denomination).”

The General Conference has not issued a statement on the recent shootings. When asked if they planned to do so, the GC communication department stated, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, who represents the church in the U.S., has made a statement,” and pointed me back to the North American Division’s response. The GC did not have a comment on the Against the Wall statement and petition.

Further Reading:

The Texico Conference and Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Respond to Mass Shootings In Their Territory, August 6, 2019

North American Division Issues Statement against Recent Shootings in Texas and Ohio, August 8, 2019

Adventist Community Services Supply Spiritual and Emotional Support After El Paso, Texas, Mass Shooting, August 11, 2019

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image courtesy of Against the Wall.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9801

Well, in my view no church should have a “view” on the civil authority use of a border wall to help control illegal immigration and other abuses, drugs, child prostitution coming across the border.
If there is an issue it should be that responsible immigration reform should be made, period…
Breaking down partitions between Jew, Gentiles etc. Is not denying civil authorities the right to have national borders/boundries. That is fallacious exegesis.
As to guns, that issue should not be church politicized either! However, murder and murderers are within the realm of religion and the state conversation.
Actually silence is appropriate where your voice appropriately shouldn’t be!

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I do note the silences of God seem to be inversely reciprocal to the topics fomenting greatest clamor of man.
It’s almost as if the wall separating church and state has been undermined from within the narthex and nave.

On another angle, perhaps the failure of the church with respect to the disenfranchised youth bears a greater burden of responsibility for the social ills that seem to create these kids mental conditions. We do NOT put our money where our mouth goes when it comes to the orphans and widows, but sure is curious how the many presidents and vices with their set benefit pensions all drive beemers or better. No different than DC, except they upgraded to Maybachs and Maseratis…but no real money for the fatherless and the widows


White nationalism is a global movement. The GC should issue a statement that condemns white nationalism, as this anti-Christian ideology is not only present in NAD territories. Today, the New York Times published a piece that reveals that the crazy rich in America have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to promote white nationalism. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/us/anti-immigration-cordelia-scaife-may.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage. And of course, we know that Russia is funding white nationalism in the United States and Europe for the purpose of undermining our democratic institutions and ideals.


I have had the unfortunate privilege to hear Ty Gibson speak in Collegedale TN. Between Gibson and Nixon, Against the Wall, is nothing more than an Adventist version of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton parachuting into any perceived racially motivated event in order to further their own financial interests. Who are they to demand that the GC make a statement? Or to dictate the nature of the statement that the NAD should make? Or even to criticize the President as racist. The anti-white bias of Against the wall turns my stomach. We have real problems in this country and they are not racial. Perhaps they should take on income inequality or medicare for all.

Russia is funding white nationalism in the United States and Europe? Russia can barely fund their own Army. Do you think it might have something to do with massive immigration from 3rd world countries? Do you think the rapes of white women in Europe by Muslims is fake news from Russia? There are millions of people entering the US from India with as dark of skin as blacks and I don’t here anyone complaining. We need to distinguish between culture and race. Some cultures do not integrate well into Western Europe or the United States, historically white countries, open to immigration of people who can integrate. There is so much anti-white rhetoric that it is causing all whites to be assumed to be racist.


You are behind the curve, I suggest. All whites are in a position Of white priviledge from the developement of government and law from Europe and the USA.
It really had nothing to do with creating more just and civilized societies, oh no…it was just about strengthening their power over others, more specifically non whites. Burn it down baby! Cut the baby in half. But some of us simply aren’t going to have this fallacious view have the baby without pushing back against this hate, division and victimhood.

Once again, I find myself conversing with a Seventh-day Adventist white nationalist. Read the Mueller Report, which states that Russian interference in our elections for the purpose of getting Donald Trump elected was sweeping and systemic. And Trump, of course, is a white nationalist. Muslim immigrants to the United States (and Europe, too) are for the most part productive, peaceful, and patriotic. You should meet some Muslims and befriend them. Millions of people from India are not entering into the United States. And all cultures integrate well in the United States, because America is not a culture. Neither is America a nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion. America is fundamentally an idea, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can succeed beyond your wildest dreams, irrespective of where you have come from or what you look like.

We need more immigration into the United States, because there are many jobs that remain unfilled and we are as a result experiencing a low growth rate. But that’s economics. More important, immigration revitalizes our nation, keeps us young and vibrant, and fosters innovation.

Opposition to white nationalism is not “anti-white rhetoric.” There are many whites, me included, who oppose white nationalism.


"We have real problems in this country and they are not racial."

This has to be your most “unknowledgeable” quote…it is sadly laughable.


not that this has any chance of happening, but it does bring up a few salient questions: is a logical extension of this statement a call for all american adventists to resist voting for trump in 2020…is trump’s racist rhetoric part and parcel of who he is - “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”, Matt 12:34 - and is it time to accept that a vote for him is nothing less than complicity in his racism…

it’s quite striking that NAD adventists, who were once so uniformly republican, are finding it increasingly necessary to cast their votes elsewhere…of course there is the option of voting for bill weld…adventists who can’t bring themselves to vote for a democrat do have this option…i hope weld does make it to some kind of debate stage with trump…and if john kasich and mark sanford can enter the primaries, as well, it could go along way towards restoring the GOP to its former appeal…

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:)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) or Lol!


I applaud all your statements restricting the rampant gun culture in the US.

Other countries have delinquent, deranged young men— other countries allow violent video games depicting mass shooting — but only the US experiences these mass shootings, due to the plethora of firearms in this country.

About THE WALL I have to disagree.

For many years I have owned homes in France, I also have a daughter and British born grandchildren in London.

Large encampments of migrants exist in Calais on the French side of the English Channel. The UK does not need a wall — they have a twenty mile wide sea barrier.— the Channel.

But illegals still try to smuggle aboard trucks headed for Britain on sea ferries —- so the compartments of the trucks are tested for CARBON DIOXIDE — the gas exhaled by humans. If this gas is detected, the truck is searched for a hidden migrant trying to smuggle into Britain.

The US does not have the luxury of a sea barrier, so how do you propose keeping out undesirables —- criminals, M 13 gang members, potential Islamic terrorists, and yes, just ordinary Central Americans seeking a better life —- because they are willing to work in the shadows for sub par wages, — thus depressing the salaries of the US working class who were born here.

With twenty trillion plus dollars in national debt, and a burgeoning homeless population in every US city, we cannot afford an avalanche of poverty stricken migrants draining our already depleted financial resources.

American citizens surely have to be prioritized above illegals — including our veterans, our homeless and our working poor, whose wages are depressed by the flood of illegals.

Plus, their use of our emergency rooms, hospitals and schools increases our tax burden and medical premiums.

plus most of what they earn is transferred back to their families in their home countries — not used here to boost the US economy.

Plus they may not pay equivalent taxes to US citizens if they are working “ in the shadows “

A high barrier wall would force migrants to enter our country at legal points of entry where they could be appropriately screened.

I am in favor of a wall, because we lack a sea barrier like the UK and the current disastrous problems at our border would be alleviated by a high barrier wall IMHO.

And restricting illegals is not RACIST — just plain common sense.

My views would be the same if these migrants were lily white Caucasians.

I am a white immigrant myself— ( entered the US in 1962 )

—-but I came in legally,
never drained the resources of my welcoming country,
plus served my adopted country as a Commander In the US NAVY,
and I have paid huge taxes to the feds and the states where I have resided.


Robin, good comments. As to guns, what do you do when you are aware that most on the left now would like to do away with the second amendment. Fine if they can remove it by a constitutional amendment. But, enough trickery and judicial activism.


The second amendment, established multiple decades ago,
by our founding fathers,
was written when only inefficient muskets, were the firearms of the day.

I do not for a moment believe that the originators of the Second Amendment ever remotely envisioned AK automatic machine guns with multiple rounds of ammunition .—- WEAPONS OF WAR.

These should have no place in our country, their use being exclusively for our military and our law enforcement officers.

I would not only ban them, but enforce confiscation of them from private citizens.

Law abiding citizens could still own other legal firearms for self protection and for hunting.

And I would also insist on IRON CLAD BACKGROUND CHECKS
to ensure that undesirables would have no access to killing machines.

Our corrupt politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are too beholden to the bribes of the NRA ( campaign contributions ) otherwise we would already have had a legal remedy.

MY PREDICTION : A few more mass shootings, particularly school shootings of innocent children, and the general population will be clamoring for the abolishment / alteration of the Second Amendment.


I do not own an AK47 or AR15 rifle. According to FBI statistics more people were killed by knives last year than all forms of rifles. Rifles 430 and knives around 1500.
Hammers, clubs and blunt objects killed 490.
All murders are bad and matter.
There are stringent background checks for AK47, not in production. Only certain dealers can cell and special license procedures. AR15 not legally sold as automatic.
The biggest mass murder problem is the occasional sociopath, psychopath and failure of any database to flag them.
The fear is this by 2nd amendment believers. Once psychiatric labeling is done, what are the legitimate strict limits? We already know that some label conservatives as deplorables and irredeemable. We already know some view “white privilege” as power seekers. Obviously unfit in the view of some mental health providers to own a gun! Empiricle evidence needs to be shown of repeat dangerous expressed behavior to harm innocent people and yes, they should be flagged.

Categorical discrimination is UnAmerican and certainly unchristian be it color, language, origin, Each day more evidence emerges that the president has been guilty of all the abuses he lays on the undocumented.

Yes we need vetting of each individual but blanket condemnation is unAmerican and certainly unchristian.

Let us use law and not cages or assault rifles


“Abuses” on the undocumented? Is it Christian to openly violate law by entering the US illegally or support it? I am for legal immigration through established procedure for all without regard to race, color etc.
My wife is a first generation immigrant.
Let’s quit trying to play with the language and not call undocumented, illegal for what it is…law breaking. Let’s quit trying to group them all as immigrants and those against illegals just are racist towards all immigration. Simply preposterous!

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Perhaps a new group needs to be formed “Behind the Curve.” I was one of the privileged whites raised from a lower middle class family who attended over crowded public schools. I see things from an income inequality angle and not racial. It is agreed by both sides of the fence that millions of jobs and factories were shipped to Mexico and China hollowing out the the middle class of all races. There are plenty of minorities who support Trump and reject the victimhood of the race hustlers.


“And Trump, of course, is a white nationalist.” The same could be argued about Obama based on the outcome of his policies. But I would disagree with both assessments. Yes we need immigration. And over a million per year legally immigrate. Opposition to illegal immigration does not make one a white nationalist.