Enough Race-mongering

This is from a speech by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: “The problem is that Sunday morning, when we are signifying to the rest of the world, 'here is a picture of the kingdom of God,' we gather with the same people we would gather with if Jesus Christ were still dead, and that's blasphemy.” The occasion was a two-day summit of some sort in March in Nashville, Tenn., titled The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation . Blasphemy is defined as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.”

If Jesus were still dead we wouldn't be gathering in church to signify anything. It's rather arrogant to “picture” the kingdom of God, much less imply that it's ever “pictured” on Sunday morning or any other time regardless of the makeup of a gathering of sinners, whether red, yellow, black, white or chartreuse. If race were mentioned just one more time this year, that would be one too soon and one too many. Race has been talked to death like diversity, all the rhetoric about it pointing up the differences in people, not the good ways they're alike.

Moore was doing a replay of the old saw that the most segregated hour of the week begins on Sunday at the eleven o'clock worship service, implying that this is because of white racism, prejudice or bigotry and, of course, not suggesting that black folks might be perfectly satisfied. Does Moore think there's a significant number of SBC churches with bylaws welcoming only people of a specific ethnicity? If not, he might forbear painting with such a broad brush.

In 1995 during the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta, an apology to black people for the sins of Baptist forbears (slavery) and real-time Baptists (bigoted) was passed as a resolution. It was scorned by the leaders of the three largest black Baptist denominations. One black pastor even suggested it represented proselytizing in the black community. These people understood that no white or black Baptist in 1995 or for decades more than a century before had anything to do with inculcating slavery, thus could hardly apologize for unearned guilt. This made the apology look silly, and it was.

Moore's conference on race was scheduled for next year reportedly but rushed up to this year because of the killings of black men in Ferguson and Staten Island by white police officers, as if the Southern Baptist Convention was involved and despite the fact that the Ferguson Grand Jury found the officer innocent, with the whole procedure laid out on the Internet for everyone to read. I read a good part of it. This doesn't mean that there hasn't been guilt—Staten Island and other places—but a Baptist meeting in Nashville was not likely to do more than fire the rhetoric, which it obviously did. Blasphemy is serious business.

The constant drumbeat of white-Baptist self-flagellation/atonement by people like Moore over what they didn't do does the opposite of encouraging good race-relations because it keeps the subject of race on the front burner all the time, emulating the likes of Al Sharpton, whose antics no doubt contributed to the burning of Ferguson twice, not to mention the complicit race-mongering of President Obama and Attorney General Holder. Orchestrating integration actually is pandering by both sides. The only integration that has validity happens spontaneously as people venture to churches and are welcomed, although what happens there matters little when compared to how people treat each other in the market place.

Slavery was not an American institution but introduced in the 1600s by the British and other slave-traders when the U.S. was a colony. Importation of slaves was outlawed by Congress within 20 years of the birth of the USA and abolished altogether in about 75 years...by white people in both cases. Predictably, race-antagonisms have flourished through the years by both blacks and whites—and this has been wrong—but my white generation has bent over backwards—especially in the 1950s-60s—to try to make things right.

I was raised a Southern Baptist and worked full-time in SBC churches during the entire decade of the 1960s in music, education and church administration. African Americans were welcome in my choirs. My great-grandfather and two great-uncles, born in England, joined the Union Army during the Civil War, with great-grandfather wounded once and nearly dead of disease once. They owned no slaves and, being Kentuckians, could not be drafted. Consequently, I resent being labeled as responsible for slavery or discrimination by Moore or anyone else.

As for equating the wrong ethnic makeup of a congregation with blaspheming God...Egad!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark