Each Sunday morning, I skim the news to see if there is something I should know before leading mass. Saturday is my electronic Sabbath which means I try my best to not read email, go on Facebook, or read electronic news. Not staying in touch with the news on Saturday can put me behind the information curve for a sermon at 8 am Sunday.
This past Sunday morning, I was excited about preaching God’s message concerning the difference between believing “about” and believing “in” Jesus. As usual, I quickly reviewed the news. The top story in my news feed was the usual back-and-forth about our current President (didn’t do this, did do that) which, frankly, is starting to turn into background noise for me. There was a story about a fatality at a rally in Virginia, threats from North Korea, a police helicopter that crashed, flooding in the U.S., and, finally, a story about the upcoming solar eclipse. I went on with my regularly scheduled sermon.
On my way home that afternoon, I turned on sports talk radio to hear about the upcoming Chargers and Seahawks football game. Instead of hearing predictions about the game, I heard some honest talk about racism which I thought was interesting. At the commercial break, I checked a nationally syndicated sports radio show. They too were talking about race. I listened intently. It was then that the story about the rally/counter rally in Charlottesville really came to life for me.
I need to make somethings absolutely clear. Racism is a sin. It is first a sin against God and second a sin against humankind. “In His image, we are created,” is not something that believers can take lightly or disregard.
The Bible does not condone racism. In the Old Testament there are sayings and stories about tribalism and God favoring one tribe over another. This is a part of our shared salvation history, NOT an excuse for us to 1) believe one race is superior to another and 2) discriminate, exclude, defame another person or group of persons because of nationality or genetics.
Racism comes straight from the bowels of hell and originates from the one Jesus calls, “The father of all lies.” Those who support, defend and evangelize white supremacy, Neo-Nazism, xenophobia, anti-Semites, and bigotry are, in my view, doing the devil’s work. Those who remain silent on the issue may aid and abet that evil, which our Lord’s Prayer asks God to deliver us from.
This sin of racism is seductive. It plays easily on our fear of the other. Our brains tend to lean toward things that are comfortable and familiar. I grew up in the Northwest. The history I was taught then about post-Civil War reconstruction appears now to be optimistic. The reality is that reconstruction was not easily, or evenly, applied across the South. In many ways, post-Civil War America is still trying to heal and reconstruct ourselves as one nation under God. We are still wrestling with liberty and justice for all.
Sunday night, Christi and I had a frank discussion about plans for what to do if there is a nuclear attack on the West Coast; we talked about how we are to raise our children during a time that seems to be experiencing an uptick in the evangelization of white supremacy. I imagine my parents had similar conversations in the 1960’s and, unfortunately, these are conversations we must have again, and now.
Lord, for America, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.
- Fr. Dave