What Role Does the Church Play in the Fight Against Racial Injustice?

It’s July 5, the day after the USA Independence Day, and I’m sitting in bed typing this simply because writing is my way of making sense of my thoughts. I find myself dumbfounded by the lack of empathy among white Christians in America. Maybe I am just naive, but as a Christian, I just keep wondering, “How can people be so blind?”

How can people have such an utter, blatant lack of empathy for others while proclaiming themselves as Christians? Are they modern-day Pharisees? How can people still support Trump? These are questions I ask myself, and I don’t think the answers are easy to find.

Living in the Bible Belt of the South, I guess my question is, “Where does the church fit in?”

I think we all know the answer. The church is supposed to embody Christ.

But how did the church get to where it is now? Why does there seem to be a rift among Christians?

We all know the history of churches in the South and how they were segregated during the Civil Rights Movement and centuries prior. But if you were to go to a church in the South today, depending on the denomination, you may find that a lot of the churches remain segregated. Of course, there are multicultural churches that make diversity a priority, but I have also found, even with some multicultural churches, the church staff is almost all white, and the worship music is almost always a white guy leading with a guitar. I am not trying to shame any church, but I just wanted to put that out there because the kind of music you play can alienate people and make them not come back. Even Christian radio stations are highly, highly segregated in the music they choose to air. These are things I think a lot of Christians don’t think about, but they make a big impact.

My point is that because many churches cater to a certain model, it makes Christianity in America all too easy. I remember going to church as a kid and teenager, and my family was basically there whenever the doors were open. We had Sunday school before the service started, Sunday nights were youth nights, and on Wednesdays there was church service, too. Now, many church services only last an hour on Sundays, and it seems like people are itching to leave by the time it’s over. What does that mean for the church? I’m only 30, and I’ve already seen a drastic change in how churches operate in my lifetime.

What’s so interesting about the Civil Rights Movement is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. started it in the church. He was a pastor. His congregation was black. And with all the animosity they experienced, it really is amazing how much they were able to achieve.

The Civil Rights Movement fought so many battles, but because of the legacy of racism in America, I think our country is always going to struggle with it. We are seeing the effects of what racial injustice can cause, and the fight isn’t over. There has certainly been an outpouring of support all around the world, but I find, on social media, there is such a mix of opinions that I become depressed reading what other people are so quick to share.

Because we are so reliant on social media and the internet, we can tailor our preferences so that we only see what we want to see. And most people only want to see or read what they believe. Because of that, there is no challenge of ideas, no debate. This makes social media not a safe space — how ironic, when the beginnings of social media started with MySpace.

So what role do we Christians have to play?

The only thing we can really do is look at Christ. Now I could throw out some Bible verses that you already know, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to ask you to consider where you are in your walk with the Lord. If you are not a Christian, then I would implore you to think about where your heart is. How are you feeling today — right now, in this moment? If you are hurting or angry about something, why not take a moment and release that tension in a healthy way?

Christ healed people. He brought people together. When the Pharisees tried to trip him up, he spoke truth. He didn’t resent them, or even argue with them. He answered their questions honestly and spoke the Word.

Many people of color in America are hurting, and no, we do not all have the same opinions and experiences. But as a Christian, it isn’t your job to judge. No one is trying to make you feel guilty, but if you do feel guilty about the injustices (past, present, or future) of America, why not do something about it? Instead of liking a post, why not educate yourself on something real? Maybe you are reading this and you have no idea what I’m talking about. If that’s you, I can’t help you. But as a Christian, you should ask yourself why you don’t understand. As a Christian, instead of posting “All lives matter” on your social media accounts, you should be looking at Christ. You should be reading your Bible with a clean and pure heart. God calls us to bear our burdens together. If someone is hurting, we all are hurting.

The church is supposed to be a safe space, even on social media. And right now, it pains me knowing that a lot of white Christians are not creating that safe space for people of color, especially online. I hate that people (including myself) are actually scared to post their feelings about injustice because they know they will be attacked. But that is why I’m posting this because I can’t be afraid anymore. Even if I wrote one sentence that sheds some light it will have been worth it.

I will probably come back to this topic later on. This is not the end of this discussion, but I think my thoughts are going in the right direction to try to come up with some answers.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s not be afraid to stand up to injustice. Let’s not get too comfortable with our lives. Instead, let’s fight for what’s right. We are called for something more than just an hour on Sunday mornings. Instead of saying you’re a Christian, live it.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We must see the cross as the magnificent symbol of love conquering hate and of light overcoming darkness. But in the midst of this glowing affirmation, let us never forget that our Lord and Master was nailed to that cross because of human blindness. Those who crucified him knew not what they did.”