This past weekend I was blessed to spend 3 days with 3,000 students, leaders and pastors in Duluth, MN for District Blitz 2014, where God did some amazing work.
Upon my arrival back home in Atlanta I began to hear grumblings about Donald Sterling’s heinous comments and after receiving a few texts from people asking me to weigh in on Sterling, I figured I’d read through the media coverage over that past few days to get a better grasp on what’s been unraveling. After taking time this morning doing just that I’ve arrived at one conclusion, Sterling’s comments and the media’s response don’t surprise me but the church’s selective response to our own racial issues does.
Christian’s Should Deal with Christians Before Dissin’ the Clippers
I can’t speak for the LA Clippers on this issue but I can speak to and for Christians about racism. I’ve noticed that when it comes to issues of racism we’re selective in what we respond to and how. In the Sterling case, many of us were ready to ride when his comments dominated the airwaves on Saturday while the next day on Sunday, only 5-7.5% of us worshipped our Lord in a setting that was Multi-Cultural. The remaining 92.5-95% of us worshipped in segregated services (1). In fact, I know by names churches whose leadership and laity have echoed the very same sentiments as Sterling for decades yet notice few whistleblowers over such comments. Why are we so silent about our own segregation?
(NOTE: I want to inject a note of clarification, the sentiments I’m speaking of are those aligned with a segregation of races, not “Caucasians expressing a desire to keep African-American’s out only”. I’m addressing any church that has a dominate ethnicity that expresses a desire for people from different ethnicities NOT to visit or join their membership. I have both heard and have been a part of such conversations where different ethnicities have expressed such sentiments.)
Mainline Evangelicals have held minority (or marginalized) Evangelicals at bay from decision-making leadership positions in Denominations, Seminaries, and local churches for decades (even centuries) yet refuse to retract a “healthy theological grid” to grade us on even though we weren’t allowed into some conservative seminaries until the mid-Civil rights era. In our Seminary education we’re taught that the majority of healthy theology comes from Europe or Colonial America and are rarely instructed about theologically sound minorities throughout the expanse of church history, assigned to read their writings, let alone hear of their contributions. Even in my own tribe, we elected our first African-American Convention President and within a month’s time one of our church’s refused to marry an African-American couple.
Many of our conferences focus on the gospel, healthy ecclesiology, and evangelism yet somehow we only have room for 1-2 minorities out of 7-9 plenary sessions speaking slots. No one seems to be pulling their sponsorship dollars over this reality but we make time to champion corporations that are dropping their support of the Clippers. I’ve been in conference settings where Multi-Cultural ministry has been talked about in depth yet every panelist on stage was of the same ethnicity. By no means am I excusing Sterling by what I’m about to say but at least his starting line-up reflects more diversity than our conference speaker line-ups. I’m not saying all conference speaker decisions are motivated by racism but at the same time I must address the fact that sadly the faces we as Evangelicals are projecting as the leaders we catch our cues from has a serious lack of ethnic diversity.
In addition, from one minority to other minority Evangelicals, it breaks my heart that it takes tragedies like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis to mobilize saints nation-wide to value the life of African-American youth all the while Chicago became Chi-Raq and few people hear a call to action. Are we as Christians telling our African-American children their life doesn’t matter unless it’s taken by the hands (or handgun) of a Caucasian?
Source: The Christian Post