A few days ago, in one of my posts about the events in Charlottesville last weekend, I mentioned my friend Bruce, a white, conservative, Christian minister who suddenly realized that the silence he, and others like him, had engaged in was part of the problem. I have, almost since the inception of this blog, and certainly since the arrival of Donald Trump on the political landscape, called for people to wake up to the fact that racism, bigotry in all forms, is still alive and well in this nation. If Bruce is any example, I believe that awakening is finally beginning.
Although I am not religious, I acknowledge that religion can serve a purpose, can encourage people to strive to be better, to rise above the hatred in the world. The church, whether Christian or other, has great power, and how the church leaders use that power is important, for too many have used it to promote hatred, rather than to speak out against it.
The events last weekend were horrific, tragic, and should never have happened. But … if it has awakened people, if it leads to a change in how ministers, rabbis and the like talk to their congregations, then perhaps those who died did not do so in vain. Below are Bruce’s latest words. Please read them and be encouraged, for there must surely be other church leaders who feel the same.
“Why do I suddenly feel compelled to call out racism from among all the other evils in the world? Primarily because it is screaming in my face, mocking my silence up to now, and largely because this evil is so persistent in our country and even within the church.
Our country’s history with racism is no secret, but I suppose we can find some comfort in the fact that “it’s better now than it used to be,” or at least I thought so until recently. I am disgusted by the resurgence of racism, or maybe by the boldness of once closeted racists to pull themselves out of the darkness they were hiding in. If the goal were to deal with a vile ideology, it might be a simple (though not easy) matter of voting against racists in roles of authority until their influence becomes only annoyance from the fringe of society. Honestly, this may be the best we can achieve in the “land of the free,” though we may certainly hope for more and strive for more.
However, it is unacceptable for Christians to stand by silently while other “Christians” promote racism and use Scripture to endorse their views. While our American forefathers misunderstood it (or perhaps even ignored it), the Bible is abundantly clear that racism is not Christian. It is untenable for Christians to allow brothers in Christ to go unchallenged as they sing praises to God in a church service on Sunday, knowing that they were chanting “Blood and Soil” on Saturday. As James wrote in his letter, “My brothers, this should not be” (3:10, NIV).
In the church, we must strive for more, and I will strive for more. God, forgive me for my silence and for words and actions that may represent my anger and guilt more than your love.”
Well spoken, my friend … I hope that more will follow your example.
Bruce and those like him personify what religion should be about. One Bruce is worth a thousand Franklin Grahams, for the Franklin Grahams of this world are guilty of promoting hate rather than love. Perhaps this is a turning point. We can only hope.