Chelsen Vicari: Tony Campolo Says Red Letter Christian Revival Needed More Prayer, Spiritual Edification, & Gospel Sharing

On April 6-7, 2018, I attended and reported on Red Letter Christians’ “Lynchburg Revival,” which was sparked months earlier by Shane Claiborne’s public criticism of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support of the Trump Administration. You can read my full report titled, “Jesus, Justice, and Political Partisanship” here.

To give a little background, the opening prayer, for example, included more identity politics than genuine petitions to the Almighty:

Dear God, we have been seduced by the myth of redemptive violence. We have failed to resist the unholy and preemptive wars of choice and have even fought for the death penalty. As the youth of America are raising their voices against gun violence, many Christians remain silent, many even working to sustain and further a culture of guns and violence. From an unrestrained militarism, Lord save us.


Dear God, our nation was founded on the death of native lands including Monacan land upon which Lynchburg was founded and the systemic enslavement and stolen labor of African peoples. Having not fully acknowledged this history, we are unable to see how race and whiteness function as an exclusionary and protective privilege. Thus, we continue to marginalize and deny full access and rights to many, including immigrants, LGBTQ peoples, native peoples, African Americans, Latinx people, and too many to justify acknowledgment in this prayer. From our persistent racism, Lord, save us.

Most upsetting, was a mainstage speaker who told service men and women that he was “not grateful for your service” and stated, “fallen soldiers are victims, not heroes.” Instead of offering tangible national security measures, the speakers suggested we “fight evil with poetry.” This speaker received a standing ovation. As the wife of a Navy veteran and sitting in attendance beside a friend and former Marine, I remained seated.

Tony Campolo took notice of my report and concerns. (Campolo provides leadership for Red Letter Christians and the broader progressive Christian movement and was also a keynote speaker at the “Lynchburg Revival” gathering.)

Over a respectful e-mail exchange, Campolo acknowledged my concerns and shared his own reservations and honest reflections about some of the political sentiments expressed at Red Letter Christians’ event. Campolo’s note is posted here with his permission.

Dear Chelsen,

I couldn’t agree with you more about the negative spin that was given to people in the military at the Red Letter Christians revival. I myself am a non-violent resister, but I always say, before I declare myself as such, that I am ambivalent and troubled. That is because I know that the freedom to speak as I do and to believe as I do has been made possible by brave men and women who have laid down their lives in struggling to protect my right of speech. I wouldn’t be able to say the things that I do, or be the person that I am here, in America, if it has not been for men and women in the military. You can see why I am ambivalent, because with people like yourself, who have family members in the military, we have to be very sensitive, and I do not think that several of the speakers at the Red Letter Christians revival were very respectful.

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Source: Christian Post