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N.H. churches condemn ‘wokeness’ list, saying it could spur harassment

Windows are boarded up inside Centennial Baptist Church.
Dave Anderson
Windows are boarded up inside a church.

The New Hampshire Council of Churches is concerned a list of so-called "woke" churches could be used to target those with inclusive beliefs.

The list of New Hampshire churches singles out congregations that have displayed rainbow symbols, condemned racism or supported COVID mitigation measures, among other things. The libertarian Free State Project shared the list on Twitter last week.

In a statement Tuesday, the Council of Churches expressed concern that certain churches could be harassed because of their beliefs, noting that “hate and white supremacist activity” has been occurring in New Hampshire.

“I am concerned about targeted or elevated harassment, particularly of congregations with strong anti-racism commitments or a long history of LGBTQ+ inclusion,” Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, the council’s executive director, told NHPR.

She called the use of “woke” in this context “a racist dog-whistle designed to activate and alert other white supremacists.”

While she saw no cause for “immediate alarm,” she said the council will watch for any uptick in hate speech or harassment in the coming days.

The list appears on a Wikipedia-style website that says it aims to bolster the Free State Project, a movement that encourages libertarians to move to New Hampshire. 

The page groups churches by denominations, listing their names, locations and which ones it deems “woke.” One church it identified as “woke” posted about Disability Pride Month, another honors the Abenaki on its website and says the church sits on the tribe’s “unceded lands.” A third church donated to the NAACP.

Jeremy Kauffman, a Free State Project board member and Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, said a member created the list so that Christians moving to the state could find churches in line with their social views.

“The N.H. Council of Churches sounds pretty woke and is probably full of socialists frustrated by how much liberty is winning in New Hampshire,” Kauffman said in an email. “Groups that screech bigotry and racism so casually embarrass themselves and distract from what real problems do exist.”

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