Painted Orange

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How should the church respond to racism?

This past weekend in Charlottesville alt-right and white nationalists groups gathered together to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, in response counter-protesters gathered. There were chants by the alt-right like “Jews will not replace us,” and “blood and soil” and counter-chants of  “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Allegations of mace being sprayed from both sides. Eventually, a young man from the alt-right drove through the crowd of counter-protestors, killing one woman, and injuring 19 others.

I watched this first-hand interview of both sides (the news-source is admittedly left-leaning, but it’s the best source I can find that allows interviewees from both sides to share their perspective) and I just started crying. There was so much hate.

I, personally, feel a little lost in how to respond, what to say. I think a lot of us do, in fear of saying something that might divide.

Racism and Nazism are evil, we must take a stand against it. But how do we speak in a way that produces results?

Every so often something like this happens in our nation. No one denies that it’s a problem, but a lot of us don’t know how to move forward.

That’s when I think of the church, and wonder what role she plays in all of this. Shouldn’t she be guiding us in some way? Helping us figure out what to do when something like this happens. But a lot of churches stay silent, not directly speaking about whatever chasm has just split America again.

Is that the church’s role? or is that God’s? And what if we have trouble finding God’s voice in all of this?

When I think of this, Isaiah 61 comes to mind:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

It’s pretty clear to me throughout Scripture that we are meant to free the oppressed, we are meant to bind up the brokenhearted, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The next question you might be asking is who are the oppressed? the brokenhearted? who are our neighbors?

Given the history of the United States and our continued battle with racism, I think it’s pretty clear. The oppressed are Black communities who were brought here as slaves, and then subjected to Jim Crow laws, and who still experience racism as part of their lives.

It is our job as the church to do what we can to alleviate racism, to bring healing, and to bind up the broken-hearted. So I try to do that, but I have no idea if I am doing it right.

So I try to speak with my vote and my words. I try to bridge cultural divides by befriending those different than me, and offering my voice and support when something like this happens. I reach out to my black friends and let them know I hurt with them and I care. And I write things like this.

But it’s also very clear to me is that the alt-right, the white supremacists, are my neighbor, literally and figuratively. In Georgia, unfortunately, you don’t have to drive far to find a Confederate flag.

And the Bible calls me to love my neighbor as myself, but how do you do that when your neighbor is spreading hate?

I think of the words of MLK Jr in this time,

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If I am being honest, I just want to respond with hate. It’s hard for me to bridge the gap, it’s hard for me to love hateful people. But hate begets hate, and violence begets violence.

We’ve got to take a stand against racism, bigotry, and fascism, but we’ve got to find a way to do it with gentleness in our hearts. Some of us even have got to be crazy enough to befriend the oppressor, and show them the way of love.

But too many of us are silent, too many churches avoiding the subject.

If the church is supposed to guide us, let her do that by talking about hard subjects like racism. Let’s get messy in our discussion of how to change this world. Let’s talk about tough things like Charlottesville and discuss how we, the church, can be the salt and light of the world.

It’s gonna get messy, some feelings are going to get hurt, and we will probably make a few mistakes. But if we are truly going to lo0se the chains of injustice, we cannot afford to stay silent on these subjects.

So this is my challenge to you: if you are part of a faith community bring up Charlottesville. Start the discussion and see where it leads.

May we make a difference.

 

About Meghan Tschanz

I believe in love, empowerment. and adventure. The kind of love that believes in the face of adversity, the empowerment that allows people to step into their destiny, and the kind of adventure that leaves your heart pounding in your chest. I write because I want to remind us all that there is so much more to life.

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4 Replies

  1. Virginia Tschanz

    Perhaps identity politics itself is the problem. That is, identifying individuals by gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., We are all much more than the labels applied to us. The following quote is relevant.
    “Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. discussed identity politics extensively in his book The Disuniting of America. Schlesinger, a strong supporter of liberal conceptions of civil rights, argues that a liberal democracy requires a common basis for culture and society to function. In his view, basing politics on group marginalization fractures the civil polity, and therefore works against creating real opportunities for ending marginalization. Schlesinger believes that “movements for civil rights should aim toward full acceptance and integration of marginalized groups into the mainstream culture, rather than…perpetuating that marginalization through affirmations of difference

  2. Debra Haefele

    I think we make a difference one person at a time with the 2nd greatest commandment, “love thy neighbor just as I have loved you” , Jesus said. We live in a decaying world amongst unbelievers where in 1Tim it says it will only get worse and we won’t be able to change issues of hatred, but we can in the lives we touch one person at a time. Letting them see Him by our love for one another. Your hatred of those who hate reminds me of the end of Ps 139 where David said, “do I not hate those that hate You, do I not loathe those who rise up against You. I hate them with the utmost hatred.” But like you he checked his heart. “Search me, O Lord, know my heart,try me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” He will put many in our paths to love on and with your passion I’m sure you will be faithful. I need to be more intentional.

  3. Brant

    Great blog Meghan! Thanks for sharing this. I think your voice actually represents more of our generation than you may realize.

  4. Dustin

    Such a good reminder that the Church needs to stand on the same ground that Jesus would have stood on. We need to stand against evil and for good! Thanks for Sharing Meghan!

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