Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dehumanizing is not a Christian value

Observing the dehumanizing rhetoric used to describe the poor and people of color,  Ed Kilgore writes,
This virulent classism/racism is in fact a betrayal of “traditional values” in multiple respects. It destroys the solidarity of Americans with each other as heirs of a society where entrenched castes have supposedly been left behind. And it defies all the cherished myths of color-blindness and equal opportunity that are established elements of the civic code.

But the thing that bothers me most about the dehumanizing of the poor and the dispossessed is its violent conflict with the supposed religious ethic of this country, particularly when it is promoted by people who think of themselves as good Christians. For the life of me I cannot understand Christians who do not grasp that an essential tenet of their faith is the radical equality of human beings as subjects of both divine judgment and redemption. Every human being is made in the image of God, and how one treats those Jesus called “the least of these” is the acid test of Christian ethics, certainly as important as obedience to rules of sexual behavior or social order. I think it’s fair to demand—if not, of course, to expect—that the religious leaders of those who look at poor people of color and see subhumans whose lives are punishment for vice preach against nothing else until this grievous collective sin is stigmatized if not exterminated once and for all.
On the same lines, Russell Moore, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has called out racism in the church.
Moore added that in the wake of Ferguson, he has called for “churches that come together and know one another and are knitted together across these racial lines.” In response, though, he said, “I have gotten responses and seen responses that are right out of the White Citizen’s Council material from 1964. In my home state of Mississippi, seeing people saying there is no gospel issue involved in racial reconciliation.”
And goes on,
We have a group of people—a small group of people, not a lot of people—some unreconstructed racists in American society and we have some who continue to come and to sit in pews of churches and pretend as though they are disciples of Jesus Christ. And we have some other people who are willing to speak to any possible issue, from the framework of Scripture that goes on in the world until it comes to the question of whether or not we maybe do have some legitimate problems being faced by our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ, and then at that point they become completely silent and say the gospel doesn’t speak to this. I think that’s wrong.

Some of these issues are going to be complicated, and some of these particular. . . when it comes to Ferguson we’re going to have different understandings of what the grand jury should have done and how they should have handled it. There are going to be some differing interpretations. But folks, when we’ve got police officers killing a man on video with a chokehold, can we not say there are still some problems in American society when it comes to race?

I'm not sure how small the group is, but it's about time churches call out their own on this.


8thday said...

I absolutely agree. But when, for example, you have the GTE staff pointing out all sort of negative isms at the top administrative levels, and the higher ups all supporting the transgressor(s), I don’t have much hope that religious institutions are very sincere in their righteous indignation.

JCF said...

Of course, when Russell Moore of the SBC calls for black-white solidarity, he probably means " fighting Teh Eeevil Gays", ala black Detroit pastor Stacy Swimp.