To Sin by Silence: 7 Conspiracies, 7 Questions

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Spiritual Experience Collection / Letters to the Church Series

is an open letter to church and society. In this open letter to church and society, the author introduces seven conspiracies and seven questions, raising awareness about the ways our silence misses the mark and contributes to cycles of pain in our world. With a mix of personal accounts, viewpoints from scripture and theologians, and observations of systemic sin, Richerson presents a compelling argument to those who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus but often overlook the ways their choice to remain silent causes lasting damage.


  • Author’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Reflection: Journey’s Beginning
  • Reward and Consequence
  • The Reward of Silence
  • The Consequence of Condemnation

The Conspiracies
  • 1—Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil
  • 2—Casting Out the Sinner Among Us
  • 3—Stooping to Help the Needy One
  • 4—Offering a Token Word of Grace
  • 5—Turning Our Back on One Who Deserves His Plight
  • 6—Crucifying That Which Is Good
  • 7—Denial of the Truth

The Questions
  • The Context
  • 1—Why?
  • 2—Where Are You?
  • 3—Who's Looking at Who?
  • 4—How Long. Oh Lord?
  • 5—What to Do Now?
  • 6—When Will the Madness Stop?
  • 7—How Can I Choose Love?

Reward and Consequence
  • The Reward of Truth-Telling
  • The Consequence of Self-Righteous Judgment
  • Reflection: Still On the Way
  • Selections from This Author
  • Endnotes


To risk life's journey is no less than an act of courageous faith, and that courage and faith is buoyed and sustained by our connection to one another. Our way is made easier when we are cradled in community and supported by others willing to join us on the path toward reconciliation and hope. 

When I think of those who have encouraged me along my journey so far, I am often moved to tears. Without their words of grace and gentle encouragement, I fear I would have long ago abandoned this journey of faith. For me, their risk to express loving-kindness has meant the difference between giving up and going on.

Some of you may be surprised to learn how much your words or kind actions have meant. Most of those who have encouraged me with small kindnesses likely have no idea how pivotal their actions were. I have not always been faithful in sharing with you precisely what you have meant in my life. I have perhaps allowed my fears and insecurities around that in light of recent events to give me pause in doing so. In humility, I ask your forgiveness for the times I have held my silence. I love each of you and trust by the time this work is complete you will know what you have meant to me.

This book is possible because of you. And also because of the many faces flashing through my mind for whom I've never had or have long since forgotten names. I write that the world might be a better place for us to share and for my son, the most precious gift of God I have received besides my faith made whole through Jesus Christ. I write for his generation and our future. In my heart, I sometimes wonder if we have so lost our way as a people of faith and whether the church as a community of believers, rather than as systemic institution, will even be relevant for our children and their children. I love the body of Christ, and this is why I write.

I want to add a sincere word of gratitude for everyone who has risked ridicule and rejection to speak in favor of truth in any circumstance. Your courage shines a beacon of light in a world darkened by our refusal to do what we know to be right. Your single voice breaks the power of the silence. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your faith in humanity.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines encourage this way: "to inspire to continue on a chosen course." It is my hope that this book will inspire its readers to continue on the ever-deepening journey of faith. We journey best when we sail alongside with honor and love for one another. As believers united in our love for Jesus, son of God and the eternal, risen Christ, let us stand with one another, trusting in the light. Let us not shrink into shadow.

Dawn Richerson
November 1996

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To Sin by Silence: 7 Conspiracies, 7 Questions

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