For several months I haven’t had much to do with religion. While I’ve retained my personal faith in God as I understand him expressed through Christ – I haven’t been to church in ages, haven’t read my bible in longer and don’t remember the last time I said a prayer. I’ve been busy trying to make ends meet, provide for my family and pursue my own personal interests. But the events of last weekend in Virginia have brought a whole flood of religious thoughts back to mind. I’ve always had trouble seeing the relevance of faith in the banality of daily life – but it’s also always been the lens through which I see the big picture. You could say that I’ve got a far-sighted faith. Because I don’t see good and evil in so many little things, it was easy to pay no mind to questions of faith for a long time. But then a very big display of pure evil reared its ugly head and all of a sudden I’ve got religion again. I’ve seen the Devil, and he woke me up.
I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t healthy spirituality, but it’s where I’m at on this journey and I can’t ignore it now. The notion that any person, much less an entire group of people, is less a child of God than me is disgusting. It is wicked. It is satanic. It baffles my mind that thousands of people can march in the streets wearing hoods or carrying flags emblazoned with swastikas on Saturday then go to church on Sunday. How has the Christian faith gotten this so entirely wrong? How can a faith spend so much time insisting on the timeline of creation and miss the reality that every single person who has ever drawn a breath, regardless of their skin colour, language, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender is equally a child of God? How can white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other prejudice exist in a person who has been taught that the image of God is imprinted in our DNA? These thoughts are incompatible.
Worse still, how can anyone who claims to follow a man who said: “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” then use violence and intimidation to advance those wicked beliefs? The dominionism on display is not of Christ. Some have suggested to me that I need not concern myself with these goings-on because they are in another country, and the majority of the perpetrators are of a different Christian tradition than my own. But I can’t accept that. First of all, what happened in Virginia was not an isolated incident. Events like that, though often not to that scale, take place across North America all the time. The Klansmen who marched are not limited to a few states south of the Mason-Dixon line, they are not even limited to the United States. Earlier this year KKK literature was distributed right here in my town, an hour east of Vancouver, British Columbia. This weekend there is to be a rally of this same collection of evil in Vancouver. It’s not a far-away problem.
It’s a white problem. It’s a power problem. It’s a privilege problem. Of course, not all white people hold these views. In fact, I imagine that an exceptionally small minority of us do. But in precisely the same way we expect all Muslims to speak out against terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda (they do), and in precisely the same way we expect leaders of African American communities to speak out against drugs and gang violence in their communities (they do); white people have a responsibility to speak out against the evil and the terrorism in our communities. So I am. I’m a deeply flawed man, and a terrible example of what a Christ-follower should look like, but in humility, I beg you, my white Christian brothers and sisters: stand up, speak up, take action. Hate has no place in our communities and our churches. This is not the time to sit on the sidelines, to twiddle thumbs, or to shake heads. This is the time to be men and women of exceptional strength and character and oppose those who would fight for a satanic notion of white supremacy.
This is precisely one of those moments that Jesus talked about when he said that the King would divide the sheep from the goats. We will be called to account for what we did when our brothers and sisters were being oppressed. There are a great many things that I will hang my head and tearfully ask God to forgive me for on that day, but I know that sitting in silence at this moment cannot be among them. The devil is on full display through the ideology of white supremacy, for God’s sake rise up against him.
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.