From the very beginning, we’ve had trouble incorporating the “other” into our quests for freedom. We did not suddenly figure this out in my lifetime. It’s simply not true that minorities, the poor and women have experienced this country in the same way that I have.
The words “justice” and “social justice” have long drawn the ire of segments of American Christianity, particularly white evangelical leaders. They have consistently said that it is unbiblical, un-Christian, and yes, un-American. Baptist News Global reported on May 18 that…
It is worrying that valueless loyalty has achieved a stranglehold on much of the American psyche, having really ratcheted up in this current era of cable news. But even more concerning is that It has also firmly taken hold of evangelical Christianity and propelled it to unsightly levels of hypocrisy.
Perhaps you know a way to love people while saying that it’s only the church’s job to care for them while others work against their interests. Perhaps you know a way to love someone in the here and now while only caring about the afterlife. Perhaps you know how to believe in mercy not universally applied, or compassion that keeps its distance. But I’m afraid I don’t.
By what ethical framework do we say that individuals and churches are supposed to take one stance towards the poor and dispossessed, but as a collective nation we should take a different — even opposite — stance? If something is right or good depending solely upon who carries it out, is that not a form of moral relativism?
Martin Luther King Jr. knew that the fight for justice and equality must continue, but he also knew that no protest or law or court battle can change a heart. What can is love, but not just any kind of love.
Allegiance to Jesus’ kind of Kingdom will inevitably cause division with those who have different priorities. Peacemakers get in the way of warmongers. Justice hinders the power-brokers. Mercy impedes revenge.
There is one simple and relatively reliable way to distinguish real persecution or marginalization: personal examples.
If a person can provide multiple, real life, personal examples of how they or their community have fallen victim to abuse, harassment or exclusion, based on who they are and with little recourse and choice, then it’s likely the real deal. If generalities are all a person can give in response, or if they return to a few isolated incidents that are not systemic, then it is likely manufactured (and likely stoked by certain media outlets).
From Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to William Barber II’s Moral Mondays, the last few decades in American life have seen a bolder and different kind of pairing of between the religious and the political, on all points of the spectrum.