“To our shame, overt racism is becoming more acceptable in American culture today,” writes Bishop Scott Jones, the United Methodist episcopal leader of the Texas Annual Conference, in his recent pastoral letter. “It is a deep affront to the Greatest Generation that their sacrifice in defeating racist, anti-Semitic Nazism is no longer respected. When Nazi slogans, Nazi salutes and Nazi flags are combined with racist slogans, racist chants and racist flags in public demonstrations Christians must stand up and bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. We must name evil and condemn it before it gathers strength.”
The staff of Good News wholeheartedly agrees with Bishop Jones.
Furthermore, we fully support Bishop Sharma Lewis, the episcopal leader of the Virginia Annual Conference, when she states: “We need to stand together as the people of God and have our voices heard. Our witness is lost when we as Christians do not stand up and advocate, especially in times like this. We need to denounce white supremacy, neo-Nazis and the KKK. No race is superior to any other; as Christians we know that all persons are created equal in the image of God. Our baptismal vows remind us ‘to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?'”
Our prayers are with Heather Heyer’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of a young woman killed for opposing a movement that promotes hatred and division. We also pray for the families of the two Virginia State Troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died in the line of duty in a helicopter accident as they monitored the mayhem this past Saturday. We mourn with those who mourn.
“The events in Charlottesville this past weekend are only the latest in a long series of warning signs that our on-going fight against racism needs a response and recommitment from all Christians,” concludes Bishop Jones. “Those of us who are white bear a special responsibility to make sure that our sisters and brothers from other races are supported and affirmed in this scary time and they need to know that they are not the only ones that speak up against bigotry and racism. This is a Christian responsibility.”
We join with our fellow United Methodists in the Wesleyan Covenant Association in our commitment to “work for the elimination of hatred, bigotry and prejudice, and to ensure that God’s best is fully available to every person. We proclaim that the life of Jesus is light for all people, that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
We encourage United Methodists to take seriously their spiritual discipleship to confront racism, violence, white supremacy, and the unholy misery and suffering unleashed under the swastika. Love wholeheartedly. Pray for peace.
The easy part is verbally condemning this evil and those in the grips of Satan. The hardest part for the church is figuring out how to offer them the grace of Jesus for repentance, forgiveness, salvation, and the turning from their wicked ways as new people in Jesus.
The problem is for 50 years the UMC has been focusing on legislating racial equality into existence rather than following John Wesley’s example that brought Methodism into existence: creating a space that enabled people to experience the powerful grace of God which forever changed how people related to each other. If John Wesley changed the world, it was because he created a space where God could change people! In his book, “What Is So Amazing About Grace”, Philip Yancy gets it absolutely right when he states that legislation might produce an external change in what people do, but only the grace of God can change how people view and relate to each other!
A wise and non-Christian therapist was heard to say that “we are all racist in one way or another, it’s not what we think, but what we do that matters”.
Since the Greatest Generation was drafted in World War II, I eagerly await the leadership of Bishop Scott Jones to rescind the bigoted statement of the Methodist Church Social Principles on military service. The current statement is offensive to the Greatest Generation and others who were drafted and served honorably in the service of the nation (Methodist and all denominations) from 1941 to 1972. The anti-military statement was obviously written during the Vietnam War and I suppose the Bishops have been too busy to note during the last 45 years that the draft is gone.
Nature abhors a vacuum, we need some explanation of the origins of the different nations and their physical characteristics. We have the true one in the Bible, it is only this and its implications that can drive out racism by supplanting its perverse analysis with the truth.
In “Don’t Think of an Elephant” progressive guru George Lakoff point out that we advertise our opponents point when we say we oppose it in a sound-bite. With racism this is a double whammy, we also give the idea that races exist when Scripturally we all decend from the one fully formed couple: Adam and Eve, or as Paul puts it, God made us all of one blood (Acts 17:25).
Science has also dismissed poly-genesis and other ideas arguing a plurality of different races.
We need to reframe our analysis. We cannot deny starting with differing people-groups with associated physical characteristics. The Bible has a simple explanation, God introduced different languages to divide us into different nations (Babel, Gen. ch. 11). By dividing the existing families in this way, God gave the different language defined nations different parts of the human gene pool – hence the apparent characteristics of the differing nations. But the Bible shows that nations were fluid – people could join and leave – for example our Lord is descended from Rahab the harlot who was of a different nation and thus not physically descended not from Abraham/Isael.