Righting the wrongs of the past

With the marches protesting racism and churches reopening I wonder how many – or more likely, how few - sermons will address the deep guilt Christian churches have in creating our racial divisions? The enslavement of black people that began in the 17th century in the American colonies would not have been possible if it had been strongly condemned as morally wrong by Christian leaders of the time. Unfortunately for the slaves, God’s Holy Scripture made it a sin to steal your neighbor’s cow, but OK to own another human being. Such is the absurdity of religion.

For 250 years, church pastors in the South assured their congregations that the Bible approved of slavery. Jefferson Davis expressed this belief well: “We recognize the negro as God and God's Book and God's Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude.”

Following the Civil War, blacks were oppressed by Jim Crow laws passed by Christian politicians, denied education, forbidden to vote, and not welcome in white churches; they had to form their own black churches. As Martin Luther King said, “…the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.” As the ultimate in Christian white supremacy, even Jesus, a Hebrew Semite born in Galilee, is portrayed as a white European!

Apologies are cheap, but here’s a suggestion. There are roughly 300,000 congregations in America. If each one “adopted” 10 minority kids and gave them the guidance and some financial help needed to overcome the bad schools and poverty caused by centuries of Christian bigotry, then this could be a productive start in righting the wrongs of the past. Do less singing and praying and instead do something useful!

Al Read


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