People of faith, take a stand against the evil of racial supremacy!
Now is the time for the church and its leaders to take a public stand against the evil of racial supremacy.
Today, many of us are shocked and repulsed by the evil and violence unfolding in Charlottesville, as white supremacists show just how vile and hateful their views are. Thousands of torch bearing white nationalists march on the University of Virginia’s campus in Charlottesville, while small groups of brave young students stood up to them, linking arms in the face of violence and hate. This small group of young peaceful counter-protestors, mostly aged 17–23, stood up to a sea of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who surrounded, intimidated, and beat them. One person is killed and nineteen injured as a car plows into a small group of peaceful counter-protestors amid white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.
How should people of Christian faith respond?
We must condemn racism, hatred, violence, and white supremacy, and choose to bear witness to peace, love, and justice.
A racialized and racist view of the world has infused much of the Western and Christian social imagination. This view shapes the way people, including Christians, see and live in the world. It gives birth to notions of whiteness and blackness, and hateful and disfigured views of church, nation, history, politics, race, and faith.
The result is that Christianity has become white and male (even though most of the global church members are female people of color). Racism, classism, and sexism feed each other, poisoning church and society.Racism, classism, and sexism feed each other, poisoning church and society. Click To Tweet
Where Christianity thrives outside of male whiteness, this thriving is seen as an abnormality or novelty. It is seen as a weaker, lesser, or suspicious version of Christianity or theology—an aberration to be ignored, quarantined, or dismissed. It’s either made invisible, or it’s made exotic.
We need to repent of this racism and sexism. We need a radical reorientation of Christianity in the twenty-first century, which fully embraces all races and sexes.
Ignoring or minimizing sexism and racism IS sexism and racism. Ignoring or minimizing sexism and racism in church and society only gives license for sexism and racism to spread and grow.
Christians don’t have the option of minimizing or ignoring racism and sexism. We have a responsibility to question and condemn all sexist or racist attitudes, theologies, practices, and remarks. We have a responsibility to challenge, confront, and condemn sexism and racism in all its forms.
Yassir Morsi reminds us that we shouldn’t focus only on the symptoms of racism, such as prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry. These are symptoms of racism, not racism itself. Morsi says that racism is more about power than psychology, more about system than sentiment, and more about denial of agency than denial of acceptance. Sexism is the same.
Both racism and sexism are about the abuse and use of power. They are about systemic injustices and exclusions and evils, manifest in law, politics, education, business, religion, and more. They are about the denial of agency of women, people of color, Indigenous persons, and others.Racism & sexism are about the abuse of power: about systemic injustice & evil. Click To Tweet
Yassir Morsi says that we don’t address such things by trying to make people more “accepting.” We need to confront and change the roots of racism (and sexism) by addressing issues of power, system, and denial of agency.
What kind of racist and sexist attitudes does the church need to repent of? What forms of violence do we need to reject and confront? Here are some examples of vile attitudes that we often find in our churches and society: Women are objects to be sexualized and exploited. Only attractive women have any value. Men can exploit their power for their sexual gratification and the sake of their ego needs. Women are manipulative and can’t be trusted. Other ethnicities (especially “non-Whites”) are inferior. It’s normal to fear and distrust the strange and untrustworthy racial or sexual “other.” The pain of white people is more important than the pain of minorities, undocumented immigrants, and people of color. Other races are corrupting our society, taking our jobs, and ruining our faith and identity. Everything will be ok, if people like us (especially white men) get back in power again. All the attitudes in this paragraph are vile and evil. As God’s people, we must reject these attitudes and pursue a different way. In other words, we must “hate what is evil and cling to what is good.”
So, what can we do?18 ways we can stand against racial supremacy & white nationalism. Click To Tweet
We can be outraged. And we can examine the ways we have harbored racism in our own lives and families and churches. And we can repent and change and rip these things out by the roots.
We can refuse to ignore or minimize or disregard racist views and remarks.
We can demand an apology from those who express such opinions. We can demand a commitment to relinquish these views, and never make such remarks again.
We can speak up whenever public figures make derogatory statements about women and minorities and immigrants.
We can question and condemn all racist attitudes and remarks (no matter who they come from—colleague, classmate, teacher, friend, family member, President, or President-elect).
We can embrace the reconciliation at the heart of the gospel (Ephesians 2:11–22).
We can pray for peace, and show through our love and justice and words and actions that God jects hate and racism.
We can challenge, confront, and condemn sexism racism in all its forms.
We can stop organizing and speaking at all white male conferences and panels.
We can recognize that women are the heartbeat of living faith, and that women of color make up the bulk of the global church.
We can challenge the sins of exceptionalism. This includes the sins of American exceptionalism (the idea that America is exceptional and has a divine mandate to lead and dominate global politics, economics, culture, and military force). All national exceptionalism is wrong and idolatrous—including American exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is a false god that demands recognition, support and allegiance. It is time to repent of American exceptionalism and civil religion. Instead, we should embrace what it means to truly be the church, made up of all peoples, tribes, languages, ethnicities and nations. This is the church, and its allegiance is to Jesus Christ, not to any one nation. This is the church, and it is exceptional because—as a people made up of all peoples and nations—it shows the world what God had wanted the world to be.All exceptionalism and nationalism is idolatrous—including American national exceptionalism. Click To Tweet
We can repent of our complicity in creating disunity and division. Our world is plagued by deep divisions—racial, political, social and other. If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you see people express such misunderstandings and animosities every day. Sadly, the church too often mirrors and repeats these divisions. But Jesus calls the church to replace division and animosity with renewed life together and in the world—a life of love, peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and prayer. It is time to repent of disunity and division. The church must replace division with unity, exclusion with embrace, accusations with thanksgiving, animosity with love, fear with hope, and enmity with prayer.
We can recognize the church’s complicity in oppressing, dispossessing, and silencing Indigenous peoples (Native Americans, First Nations Peoples, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, Māori peoples, etc.). We can allow the gospel to be “rescued from the cowboys.”
We can show another way: respecting and valuing women, and treating other ethnicities and cultures with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We can live blameless lives (both individually and in Christian community), that glorify and witness to Jesus Christ, and that stand in contrast the destructive, demeaning, derogatory, and divisive spirits of this age.Confronting Nazis is one thing. Confronting everyday racism takes more courage. Click To Tweet
We can repent and change and follow the way of Christ.
We can recognize the white supremacy among us, and racial and gender injustice, and repent of our complicity. It’s about recognizing and repenting of our complicity in injustice, discrimination, and processes of marginalization. We repent of the racism and sexism that characterizes so much of the church and the world.
This is difficult. We often don’t see how we’ve contributed to the problem.
We need to ask ourselves difficult questions.How have our political, religious, and social decisions fed racism? Click To Tweet
How have my attitudes and practices disadvantaged the elderly, Muslims, people of color, indigenous peoples, undocumented migrants or refugees, women, the poor, those with disabilities, and other groups? How have my choices and preferences and attitudes silenced and marginalized these groups? How do my political decisions compound the problem? Then, how do I repent and embrace the mind of Christ?
In this process of repentance, we join Jesus in compassion, welcome, and friendship. Jesus welcomes to table fellowship those who are usually shunned. Jesus calls us to solidarity with those who are subjected to racism, hate, and discrimination, and to embrace them. Jesus was crucified because of the people he ate with. Our repentance leads to us to the same table fellowship.
Graham Hill (PhD) is the Provost of Morling College in Sydney, Australia, and the Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project – www.theglobalchurchproject.com. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and “Salt, Light, and a City, Second Edition: Ecclesiology for the Global Missional Community: Volume 1, Western Voices (Cascade, 2017).”
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(Image Credit: Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share, via Reuters).
 See J. Kameron Carter, Race: A Theological Account (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) and Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010). See books by Willie James Jennings, Soong-Chan Rah, Christena Cleveland, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, J. Kameron Carter, Drew G. I. Hart, Brenda Salter McNeil, Rick Richardson, Jim Wallis, Emmanuel Katongole, Paula Harris, and Doug Schaupp.
 Here we develop the key assertions of J. Kameron Carter about whiteness and Christianity, in Race: A Theological Account (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
 Yassir Morsi, “Framing Racism: Why SBS’s #FU2Racism Doesn’t Get Race Right,” March 3, 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2017/03/03/4630302.htm
 Graham Hill, “It’s Time to Stop Organizing All White Male Conferences and Panels,” October 14, 2016, https://theglobalchurchproject.com/refuse-participate-unless-women-poc-stage/
 Graham Hill, “Women are the Heartbeat of Living Faith,” October 25, 2016, https://theglobalchurchproject.com/women-heartbeat-living-faith/
 Richard Twiss, Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way (Downers Grove: IVP, 2015).