Well, NFL play is upon us. I am not a fan of football and in fact am reading a Christian doctor’s opinion that children should never play football again. But that’s for another time.
There is uproar coming in the days ahead, I suppose, over the ‘kneeling’ issue as pertains to players making their protest about injustice towards African-Americans
I have heard from many how this is most disrespectful to the country, the flag and our military. In light of the death of a great servant of our country, John McCain, I share his thoughts on the subject, “’That’s their right to do what they want as citizens,’ McCain told TMZ Sports when asked about the Dallas Cowboy players who took a knee then locked arms in solidarity before playing the Arizona Cardinals ..” Perhaps I digress. Probably it would be most respectful for people to shut off their cellphones, stop talking, eating and drinking and give their full attention to the honor of our nation.
This all begs the question. Is there, in any way, a problem in our nation with criminal justice bias towards African-American people?
I am writing as a white pastor who wants to address the cries of those in our community who feel that Jim Crow is still alive. The below reference is from Wikipedia:
In the early 1830s, the white actor Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice was propelled to stardom for performing minstrel routines as the fictional “Jim Crow,” a caricature of a clumsy, dimwitted black slave.
Now I want to share an illustration. That’s what pastors do.
A man hires a worker to repair some cracks in the wall of his home. Later he hires the same worker to come and repair more cracks that have appeared. Finally, and I am making this short, the worker says, ‘Sir, I can keep coming back and taking your money but the real problem here is your FOUNDATION. It needs repair. The cracks in your walls are due to ‘structural’ damage.’ (The end)
Some folks say there is no more racial oppression in our country. OK- let’s assume that in the worst sense that might be true. However let’s go back in time even as recently as 1981. The KKK lynched a black man. And most people are aware of times before that with issues of slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.
Our current walls that appear to some to have cracks are built upon a damaged foundation. Trust me. It’s all recorded in history. And while the cracks may have been patched here and there they are still going to appear because the foundation, which is many hundreds of years old, is damaged. That may not be the fault of the current homeowner but it is nevertheless true.
We current owners of this home, and now stay with me, this household of faith, to which we all belong, need to walk around the foundation and check this out for ourselves. We need to admit there are problems that go deep.
Yes, in 2008 there was a congressional apology for the 246 years of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow era but with repentance there is always action to be taken; changing how to live now. We are still working on that by the grace of God. God’s forgiveness always leads to better lives.
I have been attentive to the words of the Pope recently who is receiving much negative sentiment because the church is not suggesting ways to stop the evil of child abuse. Now there is a foundation that needs to be repaired.
But back to my reason for writing this. Better lives, more loving lives, neighbor loving neighbor in tangible ways. Jesus told us many times that the strongest foundation for a good life was to listen to him and then PUT HIS WORDS INTO PRACTICE. You can find this in the Sermon on the Mount.
And please know that my writing and intention is all about JESUS, how to respect and honor him in all I do. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not judge another person, and to look deeply into our human heart. There’s that foundation again. According to Jesus we are to address the disparities in life and make sure that those who know and feel themselves to be marginalized are brought back into the household. (Ok…I admit that there is a sermon in here somewhere).
If Americans, especially us Christians, are going to build a better foundation we need to address what is termed ‘racial bias’ which simply and profoundly means attitudes within us that perhaps are reactions or beliefs we grew up with, about African-American intelligence, ambition, honesty, violence, aggression, etc.
I think that’s what the protests are about and folks are asking how we are going to address that. In the town I grew up in there was an ‘anti-bias task force’ and I am sure we weren’t the only town to realize that bias exists. Perhaps there are injustices that need to be attended to. (And yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition.) I am not an expert in these areas but I am alive and well aware that this goes on in our society. In fact my own foundation could use some repair. I can be faulted for my own silence in addressing the foundation and the cracks.
So I am hopeful that the Evangelical community of Christians as well as our government can hear from the Black community and implement changes whether it be in our criminal justice system, our educational system or generally how we relate to our brothers and sisters of another color within our community.
I heard the President say that he would meet with leaders to consider pardons from prison. But I have not heard anything since that statement. I am sure there will be more ‘kneeling’. I don’t have a personal opinion about the ‘disrespect’ part but I know about protest. I protested the Vietnam War back in the day.
Anyway, the white folks need to invite the black folks to walk together through the house and see how best to repair the foundation. This is a wonderful country and part of what makes it so is that we can listen to and love one another and work together and live together. So in that spirit while conversations are going and injustices are corrected we can ask for a ‘moratorium’ on ‘kneeling’. Except in cases of prayer.