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Charlottesville Today…What Happens Tomorrow?

When I was growing up, my mom and dad were very intentional about exposing my siblings and I to a variety of people from all walks of life, so when it was time for us to go to high school, they sent us to an all-white school on the north side of town.  They believed it was important for us to interact with people from different races and religious backgrounds because they knew we would have to learn how to deal with prejudice, racism, and people who just flat out didn’t like us because of our skin color.  I was in the 9th grade when I was first called the N-word…at least to my face.  I was angry, hurt, disgusted, and humiliated.  I begged my parents to let me come back to my neighborhood high school, but they refused.  My mom read Matthew 5:43-48 (Love your Enemies) to me and said, “People often fear what they don’t understand or they support certain negative ideology that they’ve been born into. Your response as a Christian should always be to show the unconditional love of Christ.”

The recent events in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend have once again brought us to a place of reflection, awareness, and acknowledgement of certain realities. The horrific images of protest– provided by the conservative movement group that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism known as “alt-right”– monopolized every social media site and news broadcast across America.  My heart grieves over the reality that there is still this type of bigotry, hatred, and racial division that exists in America. The main purpose behind their protest was the group’s disagreement with the city’s decisions to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and to rename parks dedicated to Confederate leaders. These Confederate monuments have been the topic of many heated discussions.  They stand as symbols of the Civil War that represent heritage to some and hate to others.  Personally, I agree with how my friend Brent Crowe summed it up best when he said, “A monument that symbolizes prejudices should be removed and placed in museums as a reminder: this happened and should never happen again!”

So how should the Church respond? 

  • First (Agreement): Regardless of your political position, color of your state (red or blue), denominational affiliation and belief, we must all agree that hate, bigotry, racism, and prejudice is a sin rooted in a spirit of EVIL and should never be tolerated. 
  • Second (Acknowledgement): The entire evangelical community (conservative, liberal, and moderate) must speak up and speak out against this divisive ideology known as White Supremacy that continues to segregate our nation.  Your silence can sometimes be perceived as acceptance and agreement.
  • Third (Action): Charlottesville, VA should serve as one of several wake-up calls for the Church in recent years. Ours is a movement that has always revolved around the gospel and the love of Jesus! The Church must stand together and continue forward with the spirit of Christ if we ever hope to be a catalyst for change. 

To every student, young adult, pastor, teacher, and parent who are called daily to live out the beauty of the gospel … Christianity is a movement that has been designed by the Creator to stand against any and all injustices in a broken and fallen world. In the words of Dr. Martin L. King Jr., “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.  This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.  Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.”

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