Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Reaction to Michael Brown, the white Evangelical hate machine strikes again.

Let me first say this.  I can in no way relate to the pain and struggles being felt by the family and friends of Michael Brown by his community, or by African Americans historically in this country.  I am a young white heterosexual cisgendered male, and contrary to Bill O’Reilly, I recognize the inherent privilege I have simply as result of my skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc…  I can in no way can sympathize with the frustration and disillusionment being felt by so many.

Wool Ripper Machine from Flickr via WylioIf you haven’t figured it out by now, I claim to be a Christian—well sort of—not in the Bible thumping, you’re all going to hell, hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner kind of way.  I would identify as someone who tries to follow the morals and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible.  So for simplicity let’s just call me a Christian.  And as a Christian, the Christian scriptures does influence my perspective on issues in life. 

So, as a Christian, when I reflect on the death of Ferguson, MO teenager Michael Brown, I am saddened at the tragic loss of a young man in the prime of his life, headed off for college and to bigger things.   My Christian perspective strongly influences how I look at the situation.  Jesus showed love and compassion to all people, especially those on the outskirts of society.  It may be cute and quaint to read of Jesus spending time with prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners, but in reality these folks were the scum of society in his time, yet he made a point to take extra care of them.  So when I read of a young minority male being killed (seemingly unnecessarily) my faith tells me that a human being, a child of God, a person Jesus would have especially cared for, has been lost.

Naturally, I felt like other Christians would feel the same way.  I understand that many Christians would consider my theology “heretical” and probably even question my labeling as a Christian. But, theology aside, I am nothing but dumbfounded by the apathy, callousness, and dare I say hatred regarding the death of this young man. Let me be fair—I do not want to paint too broad a brush—I don’t want to accuse every evangelical Christian of being hateful and careless regarding this incident, but the attitudes and reactions I have seen within my own circles stirs me to keep my silence no more on this matter.

Besides the whole matter that witness accounts seem to at least suggest that might have acted inappropriately.  Besides the fact that the police have to my knowledge still not released an official account of what actually took place.  Besides the fact that the Ferguson PD seems to have a troubling record of excessive force and civil rights violations.  Besides the fact that the PD has behaved in a over-aggressive manner  arresting reporters , denying access to news crews, and just seeming like they are trying to hide something. 

Stop hating (all way) from Flickr via WylioWhen the story first broke, it seems all the white Christians were calling for a “fair investigation.”  A pastor and professor from the Bible college I attended critiqued Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for saying he wanted “vigorous prosecution.”  Yet, this same pastor then fails to show that same grace toward the victim, writing  “we would plead with an eighteen year old boy to change his plans, do something positive, stay off the street.” Yes, because walking down the middle of the street and allegedly stealing cigars warrants 6 bullets to the body.
Then there is the fun I had the other night on Facebook, when I dared to suggest we not condemn an entire community because a few burnt down a gas station. There was this doozy of a comment, “He was a douchebag that didn't want to follow the law and assaulted an officer.” And another “caring Christian” said “I almost choked on my food today when they said he recently found the lord.” So when another Bible college graduate opined that the problem was that I was going “off topic,” I had this to say.

Yes, because of all the things happening in this thread (hateful speech, disregard for human life, racist attitudes, willful ignorance...) "straying off topic" is clearly the worst. I really do not understand how people can be so callous and uncaring regarding a young man's life, a grieving community, and a historically oppressed minority and still claim to be a follower of Jesus. I'm fine disagreeing over theological matters--but this is far too much. This young man, just like his alleged shooter, was a child of God and a human being. The language being used to describe him and his community is reprehensible, ungodly. But, alas, I am straying off topic again...

Yet, again, another Bible college grad has the nerve not to call out the explicit hatred and racism found elsewhere in the thread but instead accuses me of name calling.

Loren, I cannot agree with what sounds (reads) like bitterness from some on this thread. But, I haven't read a single racist comment. You are calling those you disagree with "ignorant." If you are going to play the "your argument is ignorant" card, you may want to check out the meaning of "racist" first. Hint: disagreeing with someone of a different ethnic background does not automatically make one a racist. I encourage you to rise above the name calling that is so common in politics these days.

This is of course after a previous commentator had said, “people like you are what keeps inner city violence happening. Making excuses for violent ignorant behavior because of your misplaced rich boy white guilt trip. Stuff it.” And referred to me as a “a blithering idiot.” Oh, and when I called out the incorrect information of others regarding the “broken orbital bone” of the police officer and the people of Ferguson doing “nothing” to protect their city, I was accused of not using reputable sources (HuffPost).  So yeah, I’m a bit frustrated by the encounter. But most of all, I am incredibly disheartened by the lack of seemingly any care or concern in regard to a loss of a life by people who claim to be “Christian” and “pro-life.” 

Yes, you might say that these folks are isolated in their views, but even responses like this seem to miss the point, again pointing the finger at African-Americans as causing all the problems. This blogger, Emily Timbol echoes my concern, “where is the white evangelical response to Ferguson” she asks.  I’ve combed through the rest of the post from my other conservative Christian friends.  Plenty of Ice Bucket Challenge stuff, nothing about Ferguson.  So I am left to assume that the reactions I have seen speak for the whole lot—and it doesn’t really surprise me…

So, to wrap up this long blog, I just want to apologize, apologize on behalf of white evangelical Christianity since they are so unwilling to do it themselves. I want to apologize to the African-Americans and other minorities in this country for the racism and oppression you face on a daily basis from white America.  And I want to apologize personally, because though I may admit to my own white privilege, I’m not exactly racing out the door to do anything about.  Though I cannot sympathize at the loss of yet another young African-American life, I can still mourn the tragic loss of life and the utter lack of concern from so many in my own religion. 

**Update** I feel it would be fair to make mention that the pastor's blog mentioned earlier in the post did post a second blog that I feel is far more Christ-like response. 

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