This week in Charlottesville we were reminded of the horror and ugliness of evil in our world. We were reminded that racism and bigotry are far from gone from our county. And while we all this weekend stood in our pulpits to denouce this hate (at least I hope you did!), I am left with a profound anxiety about how we can now combat these evils knowing that none of it seems like enough!
Facebook posts and blogs, sermons, and prayers declaring that we disagree with and decry such evil are all a good start. But we are all left with the clear fact that we may have even more work to do than we thought to make this a just and safe nation for people of all nations, ethnicities, creeds, gender expressions and sexual orientations, etc.
I thought about my Grandparents today. Their generation has been called by many “the greatest generation.” They were the generation, with whatever flaws they had too, that stood together against the evils of Naziism. Many of their generation fought and died to stop the horror of a megalomaniac who hoped to rule the world by conquest and by genocide. The fact that any American, ANY, could wave a Nazi flag (or wear a KKK emblem) without feeling the deepest shame is beyond my comprehension. And any American that does not feel they can decry such evil should also be ashamed.
But more yet I’m shocked at those who are willing to start making this a left/right us/them argument and that those who chose to be in Charlottesville to oppose the Nazis and the KKK are somehow themselves also to blame, as if there is a valid argument to be made in favor of facism, racism, and white supremacy over liberty and equality.
The old argument that there are “two sides” to everything does not hold true here. Racism and bigotry are poisoning evils. The is no pro and con argument to be made about bigotry. Hate is always wrong. Bigotry is always wrong. Hating others as individuals or as a group is always wrong.
Shockingly, as American Christians, many have turned Christian morality on its head. We tithe dill and cumin and avoid the weightier commandments of the gospel to love our neighbor as ourselves, hear the cry of the poor and marginalized, and stand with those whom Jesus would stand with. We are arguing about who we’d bake a cake for while destroyers with torches march in the streets. Do not think that God will not call us accountable for such frivoless use of our faith!
If you are wondering where Christians and the Church should be doing its ministry right now, you have no further to look than the streets of Charlottesville. The only images that gave me comfort and hope this weekend were the images of clergy of all faiths standing arm in arm wearing symbols of their faith singing, “This Little Light of Mine” as they were threatened with insults and violence. In those faces I saw the light of Christ shining. In those linked arms I felt the strong arms of Jesus.
Yes, our sisters and brothers in Charlottesville gave us the example. Our call is stand between the haters and the targets of all hate and share the love of Christ. May our loving God give us the strength and courage so to stand!