In the United States some people are prejudiced against African-Americans. Some against Anglo-Americans. Some against Hispanic-Americans. Some against Asian-Americans. Some against Native-Americans.
Some people are prejudiced against immigrants, whether legal or illegal. They fail to acknowledge that most all of us have immigrant roots and our heritage is from somewhere else. Yet our ancestors were generally welcomed when they came to America.
Some people are prejudiced against Jews. Some against Catholics. Some against Protestants. Some against Muslims. Others do not organize their prejudice around the names of various faiths. They are prejudiced against liberals, or fundamentalists, or moderates, or progressives, or those who are passionate about sharing their faith — whatever their faith may be.
Some people are prejudiced against Republicans. Some against Democrats. Some against Libertarians. Some against Tea Party members. Some against Independents. Some against the Green Party. Some against the Constitution Party. You may not know about these last two parties, but they are each registered in 37 states.
Some people are prejudiced against Alabama if they are Auburn fans. Or Oregon if they are Oregon State fans. Or Clemson if they are South Carolina fans. Or Texas A&M if they are Texas fans. Or Georgia if they are Georgia Tech fans. Or Michigan if they are Michigan State fans. Or USC if they are UCLA fans. Hey, it’s just a game! Stop the death threats when you get angry at a player, coach, or official.
Even internally within my own denominational tribe called Baptist, some people are prejudiced against American Baptists. Some against National Baptists — grouping them all together, not knowing there are at least four distinctive groups. Some against Southern Baptists. Some against Seventh Day Baptists. Some against Converge Worldwide — the former Baptist General Conference. Some against the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Some against the North American Baptist Conference of Churches. And even more Baptists groups that could be named.
We are all prejudiced against many things and many persons
I’m exhausted just thinking about all the prejudice that abounds. And I have only listed a few categories of prejudice.
What complicates it is that many of the groups of people I named have some groups they advocate for, and others they shun. They are inconsistent. Actually all of us are inconsistent at many points. Admit it. This inconsistency shows our prejudice. It runs deep.
What has happened in highly publicized incidents in recent weeks, months, and years in the United States — especially between African-American civilians and Anglo-American law enforcement officers — has prejudice, fear, power/powerlessness, and injustice at its core. From a Christ-like perspective there is sin and the lack of unconditional love everywhere.
Our prejudice, fear, power/powerlessness, and sense of injustice are also radically fueled by the 24-hours news cycle that is scrambling to dissect every story in an attempt to compete for ratings. In that quest we all become victims as our emotions and perceptions of truth are swayed by our favorite news organization and television, radio, and/or Internet personality.
Until we admit we are all prejudiced about many things and many persons, the debate and actions surrounding the incidents played out constantly in the media, law enforcement, communities, and political hallways will mask the deeper need for all of us to deal with our multiple layers of prejudice.
I do not claim to know the truth about any of the recent incidents. I know the prejudice expressed by many of the people involved, regardless of their perspective and who they support or oppose, screams louder than the rightness of their cause. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20, NASB).
Even if we get the current situations cleared up we have only just begun to deal with our prejudice. Eliminating prejudice in specific places is an insufficient answer. Creating an atmosphere and actions of unconditional love is needed to create new relationship assets and a new environment.
Yes, let’s address and clear up the current situations. It is morally and spiritually right to do so. Yes, let’s advocate that our society change in its prejudiced attitudes that bring on these situations and their aftermath. Let’s call for and be ourselves the embodiment of civility in the nature of Christ in these situations.
Let us reaffirm the admonition popularized by Christian humorist Grady Nutt over 40 years ago in his book Being Me that all people are persons of worth created in the image of God to live and to love. Let us reaffirm a commitment to treat everyone with unconditional love without prejudice.
Even so, we have only just begun to deal with our prejudice.