"If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." Jeremiah 20:9
I had another blog entry ready to post this week—and then after worship on Sunday I found out what happened in Buffalo on Saturday. It is a rare Sunday morning that I don’t check the news before I head to church, but I dropped the remote and (given my limited mobility) finally gave up trying to reach it. My fervent hope is that no one else who attended worship on May 15 knew what happened the day before at a grocery store where 10 people were murdered because of the color of their skin; I hope no one knew, because no one raised the incident—or the underlying racism at its root—as a prayer concern.
I am heartsick. Heartsick that an 18-year-old’s mind could become so diseased with hate that he would travel 200+ miles to “kill as many Black persons as possible.” Heartsick that any kind of sensible calls for thorough background checks for people wanting to buy firearms or high-capacity munitions magazines is seen as a violation of Second Amendment rights. Heartsick that politicians and pundits willingly pander to the worst fears, prejudices, and anger of White Americans by promoting conspiracy theories and pouring gasoline on the fires of hatred between races, political parties, religions and any and all distinctions between human beings—all of whom were created in the image of a grace-filled and loving God. Heartsick.
The “Great Replacement Theory,” which claims that Jews are working to replace White Americans with Black and Brown immigrants, is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, our savior, was a Jew; St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminded the early Church that Christians are a branch grafted onto the tree of God’s chosen people. Indigenous Americans were Brown; many Blacks were brought to our shores against their will as slaves—by White European immigrants. The teenager responsible for the Buffalo massacre had already chosen the next targets for his killing spree: worshipers in a Black Christian congregation and elementary school children. The only “replacement” is common sense and common decency giving way to a conspiracy theory founded in lies—exchanging Christ’s teaching for a paranoid fantasy that they are coming for us.
White Supremacy, one of the ugliest manifestations of racism, is sin: pure and simple.
I was surprised (and sickened) to learn that my great-great-grandfather was a slaveowner. While I am not responsible for his actions (and, yes, he considered himself a Christian) or the history of racism and discrimination in the nation I love, I am sure as hell responsible for the world I leave for future generations. We all are.
Hating people because of their race, ethnicity, orientation/identity, or immigration status is a learned behavior. Children must be taught to hate. The same kids who play together as toddlers without regard to distinctions, become bullies or bullied by age 10 or 12 by watching and listening to the grownups around them. If we don’t name the sin of racism and work together in the name of Jesus Christ to eradicate it, by the time they are 18, they may be the ones going into a grocery store, elementary school, church, synagogue, or mosque armed with hatred and a gun.