Why Christians Must Speak Out Against Racism


On Tuesday Starbucks had to shut down its whole operation, sit down with its 175,000 employees and try to tell them that it’s not ok to call the police when two black men are standing in your store and not ordering anything because they’re waiting for a business meeting.

That would have been a good start at a much deeper conversation about racism. But that same day Roseanne Barr tweeted about Valerie Jarrett, if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” That is cruel and dehumanizing, on the basis of both race and religion.

In the current climate, people will try to politicize the remark. It was a joke. Other people have said worse. We’re punishing free speech. Etc. This deftly transitions the issue from being deeply moral to merely political. Plenty of people can play that game if they want to, but not Christians. We don’t have a choice, unless we deny the indelible mark of our baptism, unless we forswear the Bible, unless we betray our Lord. On this point–the precious sanctity of every human being–there can be no caviling. Jesus broke down every barrier between races and nations, touching, healing, and blessing foreigners who were hated in Israel. So, when people are ridiculed for their race and likened to apes, followers of Jesus must say no. To fail to do so, as openly and publicly as we can, is to walk away from the victim and stand with the perpetrator. You cannot be neutral. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim,” wrote Elie Wiesel. “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Others may be silent, but not Christians. Speaking up for, standing up for the tormented is not a suggestion. It is a biblical mandate. You have to open your mouth and say no.

Every time one minority is targeted, all minorities tremble. When the majority class–that would be me and my ilk–when we shrug and make nothing of the attack, all the marginalized shudder. When blacks are targeted, Hispanics and Jews wonder how safe they can be. When Muslims are skewered, gays and lesbians know the walls of justice have crumbled and hatred can seep in everywhere.

Everyone has influence over other people, whether few or many. You have a voice. Use it. When you see your kids tonight, tell them: “Listen, you may already know how your father and I feel about this, but I want to make clear to you that as Christians we reject the demeaning of any other human being.” Just say it. If ten people report to you at work (especially if any are minorities), send them a memo and say, “I’m writing you not as boss but as fellow human. You may suspect what I believe, but I want you to know that as a Christian I cannot abide the dehumanization of any person—no matter what.”

In moments like this it feels like one voice can’t stop the wave coming at us. Or, amid all the social media barrage, we can shrink back because we don’t have anything clever or humorous to say, or because we fear we’ve maybe missed the “irony” of it all and are being trolled. This is precisely when we need to be unafraid to say the plain old unironic truth.

If you’re a Christian, you don’t have a choice.

7 Responses to Why Christians Must Speak Out Against Racism
  1. Charlotte Suhler
    May 31, 2018 | 4:32 pm

    David, you’ve nailed it again. You make me proud to be a Christian and to be your friend.

  2. Melania Smith
    June 1, 2018 | 1:32 am

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” by Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from the Birmingham Jail. We as Christians have to stand -up and make our voices be hear by others. Our world has lost faith. It is up to Christians to lead the way to Christ and his word. I have my cross….

  3. Kate
    June 1, 2018 | 8:19 am

    Read this to my spouse at the breakfast table with the Today Show in the background. A powerful reminder of how we must live our baptismal covenant, and how important it is to say’no – no more’ in addition to ‘Here I am, send me’. Thank you.

  4. Michele Bunn
    June 1, 2018 | 1:31 pm

    Oh how I miss a church that will stand up and speak out! Thank you David for speaking plainly about the responsibility we have as Christians. All of our Bishops need to follow the guidance of Bishop Curry and assume a leadership role on these injustices against other people. We Christians need to act!! Thank you!!

  5. Gloria Hayes
    June 2, 2018 | 6:12 am

    Thank you David. This message should be shouted out from every roof top in America and around the world. Gloria

  6. Michael
    June 2, 2018 | 7:08 am

    There’s a powerful irony in your premise—that Christians don’t have a choice. God, that it were true.

  7. Johnna L Fredrickson
    June 4, 2018 | 2:14 pm

    God, Self, Neighbor. We have the choice to honor all three or dishonor all three.

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