The great historian Edward Gibbon was a member of the British Parliament, but according to one historian, he never gave a single speech during his time in Parliament. When asked why, he said the examples of the good and the bad speeches deterred him from ever speaking.
In the hours, days and weeks following Charlottesville, I found myself feeling a bit like Gibbon. The good things and the bad things I heard deterred me from continually commenting on social media and elsewhere.
Yet the persistent evil of racism, white supremacist ideology and the emergence of the so-called Alt-Right requires the strongest possible response.
I want to quote and “amen” some pastors who I thought had especially good things to say following the tragedy and outrage in Charlottesville.
“Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a column for The Washington Post, ‘White supremacy does not merely attack our society (though it does) and the ideals of our nation (though it does); white supremacy attacks the image of Jesus Christ himself. White supremacy exalts the creature over the Creator, and the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against it. This sort of ethnic nationalism and racial superiority ought to matter to every Christian, regardless of national, ethnic or racial background. The church should call white supremacy what it is: terrorism, but more than terrorism. White supremacy is Satanism. Even worse, white supremacy is a devil-worship that often pretends that it is speaking for God.” I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Moore and greatly appreciate his courage on speaking out for racial justice.
Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, who has been a longtime leader in this area of racial reconciliation in Oklahoma, said in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville, “As Christians we cannot be silent. We must condemn white supremacy publicly and privately. We must drown out hate with words/acts of love.”
Other important statements were offered by Pastor H.B. Charles and Byron Day, president of the National African America, Fellowship of the SBC. I cannot “amen” the individuals and their statements loudly enough.
I was honored to vote “yes” last June at the SBC to a resolution that condemned the Alt-Right and white supremacists. I have also been glad to be part of several conversations between pastors who are African American and “Anglo” (that is to say black and white), as the church tries to lead the way toward racial reconciliation.
Beyond these words, there is so much more to say and do to eliminate racism in America, and that charge is given to those who claim the name of Christ.
One thing I have learned in the last year, through conversations and readings, is how I was not seeing the issue through the eyes of another. I, of course, always knew the evil of racism and knew that black Americans in particular have faced such a difficult road and faced the worst kinds of oppression throughout our history.
But by having conversations with people of another race, my eyes have been opened to the horrors of racism black people face, right down to this very day and age. After Charlottesville, I am reminded and convicted to pray and try even harder to be part of the solution.
Following the vision of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, I long for a day which we achieve racial justice for those who have faced such injustice. I long for a day in which we see racial reconciliation and true harmony in the Church.
Until that time, I will plead with God for His help in this great struggle, and I want to offer my life and lips to speak up for racial justice and to promote peace.