No More Apologies

11 06 2020

Ok, it’s confession time.

I am NOT sorry that you’re tired of hearing about racism from the pulpit. I am NOT sorry that you think that race is too political for the Church; and I am NOT sorry that your privileged ego makes it difficult for you to see a relationship between America’s racist ways and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not even sorry that you are offended by the subject of White Supremacy, or that talking about White Privilege hurts your feelings.

I’m not sorry for any of those things. Because every time we pastors apologize for our attempts to make racism one of the Church’s most important talking points, we are not so subtly condoning the belief that dealing with race in the faith community is optional. It is as though we are giving people permission to choose NOT to address this evil that has been plaguing our nation for the past 401 years. And we imply that peoples’ fragile feelings have the power to dictate what is or is not addressed by Christ’s body in the world today. And none of that is right, or helpful.

We in the Church can debate the various theories of the atonement or the efficacy of prayer for as long as we want. But when it comes to the Church’s complicity in American racism, and the intersectionality of race and faith, there is nothing to debate. Christians have used a warped understanding of evangelism and mission to justify the colonization of nations and people for generations. We have misused Scripture to support the institution of slavery and the separation of the races; and to this very day, many in the American Church continue to embrace a form of Christian nationalism that regards America as not just a ‘city on a hill’, but a gleaming WHITE city on a hill. Black and Brown people may be tolerated, perhaps accommodated, but they never embraced or included as siblings in the great human family.

So no, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry that church small groups are being encouraged to read “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” and that parents are reading “Raising White Kids: Bringing up children in a racially unjust America.” I’m not sorry Adult Sunday School classes are studying the Belhar Confession in an attempt to grow their understanding of racism in the Church and around the world. And I’m not sorry that youth groups are watching “The Hate U Give” or “Dear White People.” Churches need to be doing all of this and more, and we do not need to apologize for any of it.

If your church is doing any of these things, and your pastor is preaching about any of these things, sit down and listen. And stop complaining! You are right where you need to be, hearing what you need to hear, and being called to the life to which we all need to be called.

If your church is NOT doing these things, and your pastor is NOT preaching these things, then you need to get up and find a new church. Find a place that is not afraid to tackle these challenging and difficult issues, and then get involved. Read, study, listen, learn, and then discover how to best become an agent of change.

The message of that dark-skinned man, lynched on a cross 2000 years ago, is still today, calling us to boldly proclaim that Black Lives Matter, and that where there is no justice there will be no peace . . . not in the world, and not in the Church. So pastors, if that’s what you’re doing, stop apologizing. It’s what we’ve been called to do, and no apologies are needed.


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