The events in Charlottesville, Virginia a week ago serve to illustrate that the Church of Jesus Christ has a long way to go in proclaiming the justice and love of our Lord. Once again we have seen the ugly head of hatred and racism raise about the words and actions of welcome and inclusion.
Let it be said clearly that slavery was and is a sin that robs a person of the dignity and self-worth that God bestowed on all of creation. Let us also as people of faith admit that even the Church failed to recognize this reality in the past, and used the message of love and reconciliation to hold other prisoners.
But white-Supremacy, anti-Semitism, and neo-Nazism have no place in our society. They insult the people with whom we share God’s creation and those who fought and died to defend the equality of humanity.
Two of the highly valued principles of our country are the freedom of speech and the right to assemble, but there are limits to both. And while one must be careful in applying universal condemnations, in this case, it can be said that “Just because it is legal that does not make it right.” And what was said in Charlottesville was not only wrong but it was also evil.
At the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2016, the Belhar Confession was adopted as a document to add to our Book of Confessions. The Belhar Confession comes out of the experience of Apartheid in South Africa and serves as a Call to Christians to practice Unity, Justice, and Reconciliation. Part 3 of this Confession says in part:
… any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation (of people on a racial basis) by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel must be considered ideology and false doctrine”
Rev Alan Thames, our Presbytery Executive, ends his statement of the events in Charlottesville this way, “The events in Charlottesville are a painful reminder that we live in a land which professes to be Christian, but in which the enforced separation of people on a racial basis promotes and perpetuates alienation, hatred, and enmity.”
At the least, we, as people of God, should ponder, if not act on, what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
Further resources can be found at our Presbytery’s website whitewatervally.org
or Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)