Racism is Wrong!

A few years ago I lost a close friend due to cancer. His name was Rev. Denny Denson (pictured). Denny grew up on the south side of Chicago and at one time was involved with the Black  Panthers. By his own admission he was the toughest of the tough, the baddest of the bad. Growing up, Denny didn’t like white people.

 As an adult, Denny became a Christian, answered the call into ministry, and became a pastor in my home town. Through a series of events God worked on his heart, he repented of his racism and spent the last years of his life working for racial reconciliation, pouring his heart into younger pastors like myself.

 Denny was my mentor, my spiritual father, my hero.

 But Denny was a minority. He wasn’t part of the dominant group. He could only push the issue of race so far.

 Racism will never be completly defeated in our country – and in our churches – until guys like me, part of the dominant group (WASP: White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) decide enough is enough and stand up at every opportunity and say, “Racism is wrong!” instead of saying, “We need to just get over it and let it go.” Our country is a little over 200 years old. We are still young, and in spite of all the blessings God has given us, our country is steeped in racism based on our immoral treatment of Native-Americans and African-Americans. The Civil War was less than 200 years ago; we are still violating treatises we made with Native-Americans; and there still remains institutionalized racism in our churches.

 As followers of Jesus we have got to stand up and say, “Racism is wrong!”

 Pastor Denny used to say, “If you don’t constantly stir the pot, the people on the bottom get burned.”

 When was the last time you stirred the pot? (For me, it was the day before yesterday, but that’s another story.)

 When was the last time you told a friend or family member or coworker or religious leader that their joke or actions were racist and totally inappropriate?

 Recently my daughter was at a party where a guy started mouthing-off, uttering racist’s comments. According to her, she got in his face and let him have it. She said she was as angry as she has ever been in her life. A righteous anger if there ever was one. She made her daddy proud. You gotta stir the pot. Racism is wrong!

 For the life of me I cannot understand how believers of the Bible can tolerate any form of racism. (I am mainly talking to Christians of my own race.) Consider the following:

  • Biblical scholarship places the Garden of Eden in Africa, Egypt, or the Middle East (Iraq to be exact). This means that Adam, the first human being, was either black or Middle Eastern (possibly Asian) in color. Adam’s last name was not Columbus. The first human-being was not a white European.
  • Right now, today, you have to read Numbers 12. In that chapter, Moses marries an Ethiopian (a different race than Moses). Miriam, Moses’ sister, complains about this interracial relationship and God strikes her with leprosy. Moses intercedes on her behalf and God heals her, but not before saying what she had done was a disgrace. (Now, before my biblical scholar friends jump all over me, I know the main issue was her rebellion against Moses’ leadership, but the issue that put a spotlight on her rebellion, and her heart, was Moses marrying someone outside their “tribe.”)
  • Jesus, an Israelite, born in the Middle East, probably looked more like Osama bin Laden than He does me. Because of His race, ethnicity, and age, if He were alive today, he would have a difficult time going through airport security. (On a side note: One day, while I was at my local bank, a person was talking to the teller beside me. After about the fourth time he mentioned those “towel heads” who are out to destroy our country, I said, “Excuse me. You do know Jesus was a towel head, don’t you?” It got really quiet in that bank. Every once in while you just gotta stir the pot. Thanks Denny.)
  • In Acts 8, Philip evangelizes and baptizes an Ethiopian Eunuch. To this day, Ethiopia has one of the largest Christian populations in all of Africa.
  • In Galatians, Paul writes, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”(Galatians 3:26-27).
  • In the context of Galatians 3, Paul mentions a time when he opposed and confronted Peter very publicly. He didn’t follow the Matthew 18 model. What was the issue that caused Paul to do such a thing? Peter had been racist in the way he had treated Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-21).
  • The Book of Revelation teaches that people from every tribe, nation, and language will gather around the throne and sing praises to God (Revelation 7:9-10).

 The above is just a portion of what Scripture says concerning race. Taken all the Bible teaches, how in the world can any believer not say, “Racism is wrong!” In addition, one of the greatest theologians in church history was Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo. In case you are not familiar with Hippo, Hippo was an ancient city in North Africa. One of the most influential thinkers, possibly the most influential thinker, in church history was a black guy.

 How any attitude of racial superiority crept into the church is beyond me.

 Racism is wrong!

The weed of racism must be rooted out of the church. It’s 2011. It’s time the church finally, seriously, humbly, and in repentance, dealt with this issue. And by church I mean the universal church, as well as my own church and denomination. Do not sweep this issue back under the rug.

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20 thoughts on “Racism is Wrong!

  1. Thanks Kevin for this blog!!! You are so right…ignorance has caused so much turmoil in our churches! Stand strong my brother!

  2. Kevin,
    WE ARE ALL IN AGREEMENT THAT RACISM IS WRONG!!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS FIGHT AGAINST RACISM. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY CHRISTIAN. NOT THE ONLY FWB. NOT THE ONLY PASTOR, LEADER, OR HUMAN WHO FEELS THIS STRONGLY ABOUT THE SIN OF RACISM! WE ALL AGREE WITH YOU. WE STAND AGAINST IT, AS DOES THE LEADERSHIP OF FWB. They made a statement, that while it did not suit your ideal response, it was very clear. Even the public media understood it to be clear. And now the focus is all out of sorts. It has become about the statement and not about the churchs wrongdoing . This about the ridiculous bigotted actions of 9 people. Racism has no place here or anywhere. It never has and never will. And that was clear. We are free stand behind the statement and/or add our even stronger words to if you deem it to watered down. But please don’t make it out like fwb people or leaders are racists or need to be enlightened on the issues of race, equality, or human dignity. Now, there are at least 9 people in ky who need some education. Targeting the segment of fwbs or the country that still choose to be ignorant and even sinful regarding the issues of race, is a way we can spend our time responding to, reacting to and re-educating them. that seems like a much better use of our wordsand time than tearing down the leaders who made a statement that was quite clear. This is an opportunity for fwbs to cometogether and draw up an collective statement regarding our position against racism using the strongest language possible. Let’s do it. We have meeting with a format for that. But let’s agree on two things today….. We stand together against the actions of those 9 people in ky and that, and any other acts if racism are wrong. You believe that. I believe that. Our leadership believes that. And the fwbs as a whole believe that.

  3. I think bigotry is often confused with racism. Much of what is called racism is truly bigotry, pure unadulterated evil. I can’t decide if one is worse than the other, perhaps both are equally as bad. However I do believe that racism can be corrected by interaction with those we feel superior to. Bigotry, maybe not.

    The Church in Kentucky is guilty of both. “They can sit with us, but they can’t be a part of the body.” Well I wouldn’t want to even sit with them.

  4. We cannot fool ourselves into believing it is just nine people in a church in Kentucky. Just five short years ago we had a eerily similar indecent in our church. This made it very clear to me that racism does indeed exist in our denomination and it is not just nine people in Kentucky.

    • Tim, I could not agree more! I intentionally did not mention the church in KY, and plan on never referring to them. In actuality, they were never my concern. They are a local church and can do whatever they wish. There is a much bigger issue that has to be addressed.

  5. Well said, Kevin! It saddens me so that racism is still so prevalent in our churches, especially here in the South. I’m glad to see that it’s being fought from pulpits such as yours – more power to you!!!

  6. I think you need to quit apologizing for “offending” anyone. You can’t stir the pot or speak with righteous anger without offending. Those who may be offended by your words may have another agenda. Racism is wrong. It is ironic that this issue appears to be “black and white” yet the FWB leadership response has been “grey” so as not to offend.

  7. Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
    Kevin: Thank you for this well written article. Earlier this morning I received a call from a previous member of our Church. He is in town for a couple of weeks and wanted to let me know he and the family would be in Church tomorrow morning. He is in a bi-racial marriage. When a member of our Church he played drums for our worship service. He’s in the military and due to transfers they have been in FWB churches on the West Coast, East Coast, in the Midwest and the South. They have been well received in all these Churches. A few years ago another bi-racial military couple was transferred to Virginia. I recommended a FWB Church for them to attend. The husband was white she was black. She became a Sunday School Teacher in that Church.

    I could relate other incidents but I share these to say we have come a long way but I agree we have more work to do. Sunday morning worship is still a very racially separated time. Much of this is due to language, cultural and other difference and is made by most races. But as far as it is due to racism and desire to perpetuate racial division we need to overcome. I am with you in achieving that.

    I attended FWBBC during the time of school integration. My children were in the public school bussing program. This was a time of stark contrast to the FWB Church and the public schools they had previously been attending while I was in the Navy in Hawaii.

    May God help us to face squarely but lovingly all needed change in the area of remaining racial discrimination in our midst. We must do so as a witness to the world of the love of God for all mankind.

    John Smith

  8. I read and re-read your words above and still can’t figure out where anyone got the idea you were attacking the FWB leadership. Your focus was on the problem not on the official response. I appreciate your challenge to root racism from the church-our churches. I live in a town that has a fair share of bigots and racists. I have had to speak up many times about jokes and stories and comments that were racist. Sadly, some of the people were from my own church. Keep stirring.

    • Vera and others,
      Yesterday I wrote a note to Kevin on Facebook to clarify my comments under this blog. Thought I’d re-post it here. The blog above was great and my comments were just misplaced. Thanks.

      “Kevin, just wanted to say that my coments today under the blog should have gone under yesterdays entry. They were just made in frustration with the part of the conversation which I felt had lost focus on the main isssue. Your article today was great and I wholly agree. And will continue to speak out against racism. I’m sorry to confuse the responses as they did not honor your conscous decision to help us redirect the conversation. Blessings.Angie”

  9. Pingback: Will Anything be Said? « #grayfwb

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