The Common Good

The Most Controversial Sentence I Ever Wrote

Date: October 24, 2013

The most controversial sentence I ever wrote, considering the response to it, was not about abortion, marriage equality, the wars in Vietnam or Iraq, elections, or anything to do with national or church politics. It was a statement about the founding of the United States of America. Here's the sentence:

"The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the near genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another."

The comments were overwhelming, with many calling the statement outrageous and some calling it courageous. But it was neither. The sentence was a simply a historical statement of the facts. It was the first sentence of a Sojourners magazine cover article, published 26 years ago, titled "America's Original Sin: The Legacy of White Racism."

An extraordinary new film called 12 Years a Slave has just come out and Sojourners hosted the premiere for the faith community on March 9 in Washington, D.C. Rev. Otis Moss III was on the panel afterward that reflected on the film. Dr. Moss is not only a dynamic pastor and preacher in Chicago, but he is also a teacher of cinematography who put this compelling story about Solomon Northup -- a freeman from New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery -- into the historical context of all the American films ever done on slavery. 12 Years is the most accurate and best produced drama of slavery ever done, says Moss.