Christian leadership silent amid violence and racism
Church members express grief and anger despite hearing nothing from their pastors
It has been an eventful, violent time for America during the past couple days. Following the controversial shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, five police officers were killed during protests in Dallas.
The public is once again reminded that racism is still alive and well in the U.S., and we’re hearing outbursts of anger, grief and sorrow from people of all different backgrounds. One group of people we have seldom heard from during this horrific time, however, is Christian leadership.
We have yet to hear from Rick Warren, Michele Bachmann and Joel Osteen just to name a few prominent Bible-thumpers. Despite a huge outcry and call for action from the Christian community, leaders in the pastoral and political fields remain silent.
As for Jerry Falwell, this tweet was all he had to offer:
— J L Falwell (@JerryJrFalwell) July 8, 2016
As I was drinking coffee and scrolling through my Facebook news feed this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the majority of my friends from church calling for prayer and vocalization in response to these tragic events. My Facebook friend, Jake Holland, caught my attention when he challenged Christian leadership to be more vocal in the wake of such atrocities.
“Use your voices!” the Liberty University staff member posted. “God gave you a family, friends, co-workers and varying platforms to be influential and make an actual difference. So many of us are plenty outspoken when it’s about the Second Amendment, yet excruciatingly quiet in situations like these. I expect more from you, LU. I’m holding you (and myself) accountable.”
He’s right. We listen to a barrage of rants from Liberty University during national debates regarding gay marriage or gun control, yet hear nothing from Jerry Falwell when people die because of racism.
Full disclosure: I’m a Christian and have gone to church my whole life. I’m fine with the church having their conservative views regarding women’s issues or gay marriage, but this isn’t just another hot-button topic that Christians can have an opinion on. This is a moral, human issue that we all have to fix.
Daniel Ethridge, a worship pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in southeastern Virginia, posted a video in response to the shootings.
“’Be angry and do not sin,’” Ethridge quoted Psalm 4:4. “When I read this I began to think about anger, and throughout scripture it’s really viewed in a negative light.”
The young evangelist then referenced Mark 3, where Jesus became filled with anger after teachers of the law scolded him for healing a man on the Sabbath. Ethridge explained his takeaway from his readings and shared his own emotions.
“I’m angry tonight. I’m deeply grieved tonight. I’m angry at racism. I’m angry at prejudice. I’m angry at an abuse of power. I’m angry at ignorance. I’m angry at senseless killing. I’m angry that people’s lives are being taken for no apparent reason.”
He has a right to be angry. It’s not a sin that he’s angry. Innocent people are dying. I’m not saying the majority of pastors in America aren’t angry either; the difference is Daniel has vocalized the fact that he’s angry. He’s vocalized that there is an issue of racism in 2016.
Christian rapper and Reach Records founder Lecrae slammed the “All Lives Matter” movement, claiming that black lives don’t matter to many Americans.
“#AllLivesMatter is like spitting in the face of black folk,” Lecrae posted on Instagram. “It comes off as extremely selfish and unsympathetic to a mourning person.”
This wasn’t the first time Lecrae has made a comment or statement regarding racial issues. In fact, many Christians label him as “controversial” for his remarks. My question is: Why? Why is Lecrae “controversial” for speaking his mind or believing blacks have a hard time in America?
Christians today often get a bad rep for their conservative social views, and are even labeled bigoted in some cases. While I do not, in any way, believe the Christian faith promotes bigotry or racism, I think the Church needs to re-evaluate how it looks at today’s issues. In this case, prominent Christian leaders need to begin by speaking out against violence and racism in order to set an example for believers.
Obviously, we can all have opposing viewpoints and discussion on how to solve the issue of racism in America. However, we won’t get anywhere if we do not first acknowledge it exists. That’s where the Rick Perrys and the Jerry Falwells are dropping the ball.
It needs to be more than a Facebook post. It needs to be more than a quick video (not that those who have spoken out on social media are wrong; it’s a step in the right direction). Leaders of the Christian faith need to make it clear to the public that the Church condemns violence, bigotry and systematic racism.
If Christians fail to let their true voices be heard, the far-left will continue to silence the Church and continue to label people of faith “bigoted” and “intolerant.”