Racism is being incited and condoned, and now violence is being incited and condoned. So we will need to bring what Archbishop Desmond Tutu once called “a spirituality of transformation.” I remember when he preached that message from the pulpit of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I had the blessing of preaching from that same pulpit this past Sunday, and I wanted to share the sermon I preached with you.
It’s time to put the moral crisis over the political one. Donald Trump’s potential nomination by the Republican Party is not just a crisis for that party and for election politics in general, it is a moral crisis for the country, for democracy itself, and for the state of faith in the nation.
The media can act shocked about Trump failing to quickly and very clearly denounce David Duke and the KKK and their support for him, but they didn’t seriously ask the more important question: Why do the advocates of white supremacy like and advocate for Donald Trump?
When the media says “evangelicals” they really mean “white evangelicals” and virtually never measure the opinions and voting practices of black, brown, or even young evangelicals. In fact, they don’t even ask religious identity questions of Democratic primary voters where many of the black, brown, and young evangelicals may be voting. It is older white evangelicals who are mostly voting in the Republican primaries and now are increasingly supporting Donald Trump. “What?” is indeed the right question.
In the next few decades, a fundamental change will occur in the United States. By the year 2045, the majority of U.S. citizens will be descended from African, Asian, and Latin American ancestors, according to the U.S. Census Bureau projections. For the first time in its 240-year history, America will no longer be a white majority nation. Rather, we will have become a majority of minorities — with no one race being in the majority. The United States will be no longer a dominant white nation but a multiracial nation, which will make the assumptions of white privilege increasingly less assumed.
Here is what Pope Francis said to the world in his Lenten message:
“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
Instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, the pope seems to want us to give up our indifference to others.
When I began writing my latest book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, my hope was to help foster that new conversation on race in America — and to point to the action that needs to come from it. Because only when we openly and truthfully speak to the roots of racism and inequality in our country — white supremacy, white privilege, and the dehumanization and devaluation of black lives and bodies — will we able to deal with the modern-day realities of that legacy and solve the obvious problems before us in racialized policing and the blatant racial disparities in our criminal justice, education, and economic systems. So we launched a “town meeting” tour that creates space for the voices of diverse local leaders in each city and allows for the multiracial, truth-telling conversations and actions we so urgently need across this country. I’m happy to say that tour has started, and it has been powerful to see and hear.
Issue: March 2016
What does it mean to baptize a daughter into “a communion that in insidious ways is going to teach her that as a girl she matters less?” asks Natalie Wigg-Stevenson in our cover story. And what kind of hope do Jesus' words offer us as we sift through a tradition that is still scarred by patriarchal theology? Read one Christian feminist wrestle with what it means to be both a parent and co-disciple.
How would you feel if you realized your children’s water was being poisoned, and your government didn’t seem to care? That’s the story of the parents of 8,000 mostly poor and black children in Flint, Mich., (which means most all of the children in urban Flint) that has finally hit our media front pages. The evening news I am watching as I write warns the parents of Flint not to bathe their young children in city water.
Most polls don’t matter much. But this one does. A recent Public Religion Research Institute survey has revealed a devastating truth: While about 80 percent of black Christians believe police-involved killings — like the ones that killed Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and so many more — are part of a larger pattern of police treatment of African Americans, around 70 percent of white Christians believe the opposite … that they are simply isolated incidents.
To put this in a religious context: overcoming the divisions of race has been central to the church since its beginning, and the dynamic diversity of the body of Christ is one of the most powerful forces in the global church. Our Christian faith stands fundamentally opposed to racism in all its forms, which contradict the good news of the gospel. The ultimate answer to the question of race is our identity as children of God, which we so easily forget applies to all of us. And the political and economic problems of race are ultimately rooted in a theological problem. The churches have too often “baptized” us into our racial divisions, instead of understanding how our authentic baptism unites us above and beyond our racial identities.
Do we believe what we say about the unity of “the body of Christ” or not?