Tag: black

Is Conservative Evangelical Christianity An Incubator For White Supremacy?

President Trump won’t exclusively condemn it, Frankly Graham won’t clearly denounce it, and many conservative Evangelicals remain all but silent and waffling with false equivalencies in its destructive wake—white supremacy.

Take a good look at the landscape of right-wing Christianity in America and tell me why we should be surprised when white supremacy is seen by some as, at least in part, a bi-product, intended or not, of significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. The undeniable placid ambivalence, tiptoeing, and ambiguity displayed by some in response to the recent acts of domestic terrorism committed in Charlottesville give sure light to the elephant in the room—a white Jesus for white people creating white churches with white male leadership hoping to protect, preserve, and foster a white conservative Christian nation to rule the earth.

It’s high time we wake up and smell the vile stench—casting out our evil nose-blindedness. Should we be surpised when significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity are discerned as highjacking Jesus and turning Him into their personal cruise director, sipping Christian cocktails while their Evangelical Titanic plows through and pollutes from sea to shining sea spewing out sure levels of hatred, bigotry, racism, greed, and even the sounds of white supremacy?

There is much about the conservative Evangelical creed that could be understood as speaking of and fostering privilege—we are the saved, you are the lost; we are the faithful, you are the heathen; we are the blessed, you are the condemned; we are the friends of God, you are the enemy; we are the sole possessors of Biblical understanding and righteous interpretation, you are the sure heretics; we are the faith upon which this nation was founded, you are the people that need to be converted and conquered.

No, it’s not written in the church bulletin or some carefully crafted mission statement, but with white painted churches steepled with white crosses as far as the eye can see, it should be to no one’s surprise when people observe that Sunday mornings across America can be some of the most segregated hours of the week and a screaming indictment to some of the highly unfortunate fruit being grown on the vine of the gospel of significant segments of conservative Evangelical Christianity—not excluding, aspects of white supremacy.

For at some point, we have to do the difficult work of putting two eyes on what’s in front of us and connecting the dots.

No, of course, not everyone who identifies as a conservative Evangelical Christian manifests nor supports the evils of racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. There are many, if not most, standing in the gap, seeking to be a force for good. Yet sadly, but perhaps appropriately, the foundational theology, ethos, and culture of significant segments of right-wing conservative Christianity are now being questioned as a potential incubator, cesspool, and even catalyst for some of the evil tenets, actions, and aspirations found in white supremacy.

As unpopular and perhaps controversial as it is to shout from the mountain tops or assert at the Thanksgiving day table, we have a serious spiritual and moral problem in our country, and one of the cowardly wizards behind the curtain pulling its fair share of the strings is none other than significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

If you’re white, silent, and not completely enraged at the racism spewing from the privileged sewers of America, you are the problem.

If you’re a Christian and believe that your faith understanding affords you special dignity, rights, blessings, status, and the capacity to judge and Lord your creeds and values over another, you are the problem.

If you subscribe to any belief set that sees the color of your skin, the creed you confess, or the location of your birth as granting you special anointing, favor, and affirmation from God, you are the problem.

If you have taken even just one step towards concluding that God created anything less than perfect equality for all people as the predominant sign of the manifestation of His Kingdom, you are the problem.

If you dream of a world where white Christian people remain the majority, retain overall power, legislate society, and have their values, beliefs, and culture prevail in the public arena, you are the problem.

Take a good look at the landscape of right-wing Christianity in America and tell me why we should be surprised when white supremacy is seen by some as, at least in part, a bi-product, intended or not, of significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

5 Solutions To The Racial And Spiritual Divide In America

There is a racial and spiritual divide in America. The cracks on the ceiling are giving way, some wondering if the whole house is about to fall—violence in thought, word, and deed gushing through every tube that connects us. The assumptions and predeterminations from which we view one another and render our conclusions have perhaps never been more jaded. Much of American Christianity has become weaponized, marching as to war—the political climate and social ills, mere surface products of our deeper spiritual fall from Grace. America is racially and spiritually divided and poised for certain eruption, not primarily from what is happening in the halls of our capitals, but first and foremost, because of who we have become sitting in the pews of our churches. With blood in the streets, discrimination around ever turn, cries going unheard, and condemnation gutting us from within, enough is enough, a new people we must become if America is to be racially and spiritually divided no more.

We Must Become People of Grace-

Grace is the ultimate equalizer that declares the intrinsic, sacred order within all humanity—none are better, only different.

We are all human, created in divine imagery, having strengths and weaknesses. Yet, by God’s Grace, our weaknesses nor our strengths define us. Rather, our irrevocable and irremovable God-established worth forever qualifies all humanity for every right, blessing, and fair treatment. Under Grace, we travel this planet, all spinning on equal footing and value. As we pursue different paths and apply different choices, we are no less worthy nor more entitled to the fundamental qualities of life that God, by His Grace, has woven into His plan for every being—freedom, hope, life, love, eternity, and the fruition of their God-given capacity to be the person He created them in identity.

As we see people as equally reflecting our Creator’s image an possessing His value and worth, we live not to judge, conquer, lord over, nor undermine, but to see the quality and potential of our lives forever connected to that of all those around us. When we are people of Grace, we live not to point out imperfections nor be divided by inherent differences, but to sing in concert with the Creator’s plan that all might know and enjoy their divine beauty and the rest to one’s soul and living that Grace provides.

Under Grace, the nightmare of the American dream is revealed and the birth of a Kingdom hope takes flight, where people are fully free to be fully loved and to fully love in return—a hope where personal performance, success, and accomplishment do not create division nor distinction that measures, but rather reflects the artistry of our Maker who shares the benefits of His excellence and stature for the purpose of lifting everyone upon Him and blessing them with everything needed to enjoy and reflect Him. We must become a human-honoring, non-judging, equality-loving people.

We Must Become People of Unconditional Love-

The essence and entirety of God is unconditional love and His deepest desire is for us to embrace that love and manifest it to others. Love is love is love—it has no color, gender, orientation, status, limits, conditions, restrictions, or exclusiveness.

No matter our faith understanding or expression, until our theology is love, we will always be leaning on our own religious ideologies to the detriment, division and depravity of others and our nation. If love is not the ideal, the real, and the priority above all others, then all our creeds, policies, governing, and individual and corporate endeavors are rendered as gonging, clanging cymbals out of beat and out of touch.

Where temptation and even fair reason emerge for revenge, retaliation, subversion, isolation, or discrimination, love must be the alarm and the trumpet that calls us back to what is eternally true and relevant—only love wins, everything is a bandaid upon a cancer.

The ethos of our country as a nation and our faith gatherings as spiritual formations needs to centered far less on the creation of like-minded camps and exclusive denominations, and much more on the becoming of tables for transformative conversations. And where there are disagreements, love must be lifted as the common denominator and disposition that calibrates our hearts and attitudes towards mutual affirmation, even in the presence of honest disagreement. For the new unity of the future that will truly bring us together, spiritually or otherwise, will not be based upon what we can agree, but rather on the strong foundation of our willingness to have disagreements while doing life and freedom together in mutual respect and honor.

We Must Become People of Servanthood-

Grace doesn’t build walls, it builds mirrors that we might first see ourselves in the light of our shared humanity, spirituality, and equality with all others. Then, and only then, are we fully capable of truly seeing our neighbor in all their truth and assuming the right posture of heart to love, influence, and guide one another as mutual learners along this path of life, faith, and togetherness.

In this way, we become servants of one another, establishing the currency of our interactions to be measured by that which bestows the highest levels of honor to another, simply because they breathe.

Servanthood sees sin less as something to stand against, and more as an opportunity for love to find its highest fruition as it stands in solidarity with the redemptive value inherent in all creation, no matter the perceived sin or dissonance. For sin, differences, and creedal conflicts are not near the issue for God as they are for religion—making them a condition and stumbling block for servanthood where God makes them the object of it.

We are to serve one another in spite of all things and because of all things, giving love center stage to do its work and win in the lives of ourselves and others. God is surely big enough for everyone’s truth to be important, respected, valued, and served. We must become a humble, serving people who are convinced that he or she that loves the deepest and with the least restriction is he or she that wins, to the gleam of God above.

We Must Become People of Shared Human Dignity-

Evil must be seen not as an inherent human condition, but rather in those actions that would withhold Grace, reduce the dignity, and undermine the sacred, equal value, goodness, and worth of all people.

When this becomes the tuning fork from which we align our perceptions, spiritualities, and attitudes—bigotry, racism, discrimination, condemnation and hate for any person for any reason will be aggressively called out, chased out of the shadows, and suffocated of the air it needs to breath. The “least of these” will be defined as those whose seat at the “importance” table has been conditioned, minimized, or removed. Thus, our hearts will be forever bent in sorrow towards anyone in lack, seeing their equal treatment and future as being forever weaved into ours.

Where those privileged today often see equality as anything that still keeps them privileged, equality in the future must look like that which manifests the reality that God created us all privileged, qualified for every good thing—and therefore, how dare we get in the way of that which the Divine has decreed or be silent when it’s missing. For silence and apathy are the incubators from which all evil is given permission to grow.

We must become a outspoken people who see evil as a dehumanizing reality and we as the ardent defenders, advocates, and caretakers of the least of these, shielding those who bare its brunt and force, and rescuing those who wilt in the soils of its poisoning.

We Must Become People of Nonviolence-

Where there is violence the real battle as already been lost.

Spiritual, physical, and emotional harm is always a surface acumen that rarely ever solves the core. For punishment never made anyone holy, nor healed the hurt fueling the hurter.

People are not the problem, our unwillingness to thoroughly listen to each other’s story and submit ourselves to their implications is much more the culprit. A changed mind about an enemy begins with a heard story. Sadly, we have become more addicted to being ignorant and isolated from people’s true pains, experiences, and histories, then in the discovering of where the seeds of condemnation were first planted that have blossomed into the aggressions, scars, twitches, and brokenness that are manifested.

Violence is often a compensation for the unwillingness to listen and be changed in mind and heart by the human histories and experiences of another. Listening begets understanding, understanding begets learning, learning begets compassion, compassion begets healing, and healing begets peace.

There will be no peace until there is passionate, humble listening. For in the end, we are altogether no different— in, under, and with the One who made us—equal by the Equalizer—Grace.

This is who we must become—gracious, unconditional-loving, all-people-serving, human-dignity-defending, nonviolent-listening people.

May it be so, beginning with me, beginning with you.

A White Christian’s Deep Apology to Black America

This has been a long time coming, an awakening that has been both freeing and yet disturbing. I am a white Christian, but not the same white Christian I used to be, for my whiteness has become to me, my new black. Walking in shoes never worn, walking in ways never walked.

Four years ago, though I had been a Christian since childhood and a pastor for 20 years, I discovered the pure Gospel of God’s Grace. This original Gospel that Jesus brought has been all but lost in our Christian culture. When my eyes were opened to its beauty, it was like breathing for the first time. The message of the pure Grace of God through Jesus changed my whole way of being, feeling, and thinking. Every day since then, this Grace has increasingly awakened me to the immeasurable love of God, my new-creation identity, and what it truly looks like to be a Jesus person.

Unfortunately, the more I have sprouted in Grace and allowed God (who is love) to shape my thinking and being, I have experienced sharp criticism, distancing, and blatant rejection from many in the faith community.  For the first time in my life, I have become a minority. I preach, teach, and live a message that is in many Christian circles unheard of, heresy, offensive, and controversial at best. I am beginning to know what it is like to be labeled, suspected, marginalized, demonized, misunderstood, and even hated. I am beginning to know what it feels like to be seen as the non matching puzzle piece, the one that is deemed second class, substandard, and different. I am beginning to know the frustration, the anger, the insecurities that are unavoidably intrinsic to being the minority; the last kid picked for the team, if picked at all… the one who is marked to be spiritually segregated, drinking from the fountain reserved for heretics, and escorted to sit in the “cheap grace” seat on the bus.

This has been an eye opening experience to say the least, and one that has left me with a deeply changed perspective on what it must feel like to be a black person in America. If it feels anything remotely like what I have experienced, it is a sure kind of hell. And sadly, racism towards blacks has historically and presently been far worse in comparison to any social or societal experience I have ever had.

To be honest, as I grow in Grace, I have come to realize that I have been a white Christian racist who has no clue. Racist, not because I don’t love, respect, and honor black people, but because I have been satisfied with harboring limited, ignorant perspectives on what it must be like to be black. And that, because I have chosen to close my mind, heart, and experience to the reality that black people have not only had a terrible history of slavery and abuse in America, but currently experience real racism.

I have been the white Christian who unfairly gets nervous on a late night in the city when a black man walks towards me on the sidewalk, simply because he is black. I have been the white Christian who, when driving by an impoverished black neighborhood, had streaming, inward trains of thought, “That’s too bad, it’s their own doing, glad it’s not me.” I have been the white Christian who assumes that there is more (or at least equal) reverse racism towards whites than there is legitimate racism towards blacks, and somehow that justifies my disregard and callousness towards the issue. I am the white Christian whose ignorance eclipses him from even knowing how to talk about this issue without tumbling over words, history, and vernacular. I certainly don’t have that problem with other issues that affect me and impact what I love. And there in lies the problem, a lack of love. I have not listened fully nor intently to their story, taken seriously their adversities, nor truly empathized with their experiences. All, while many (if not all) of my black brothers in sisters seriously suffer, struggle, and carry an intrinsic burden of being black in America.

No, I don’t believe every instance that is deemed racists against blacks to be true. Not every police experience, job interview, or legal issue involves or has been influenced by racism. Are there people who exploit and even perpetuate racism for their personal gain or political advantage? Surely so. Are there rushes to judgement and premature conclusions drawn regarding white people committing racial acts? To be sure. Not every arrest, death, decision, comment, or outcome is racially motivated. Certainly, there is no excuse for race hustlers, but if you have had your ass unfairly handed to you as an individual, race, and people for years and years, you might have some moments here and there of overreaction and bias too.

Some say there is a systemic issue of racism in our country in almost every facet of our culture, others say this is exaggerated. Each bringing their studies and statistics to prop up their conclusions.

Yet, the truth is, we can go around and around debating the statistics and trends and brand our views with clever slogans, “black lives matters” “white lives matters” “all lives matter” and yet completely miss the forest from the trees. The fact is, racism against blacks is historically and presently real, no matter how you slice it. And by my lack of empathy, level of ignorance, bias, silence, and absence of genuine care, I am a white Christian who has become much more a part of the problem than the solution. Drastically failing to be Jesus to my black brothers and sisters. And for that, I deeply apologize. I am embarrassed and disgusted with my lack of Grace and love for black America.

The bigger problem is, I am not the only one.

White Christianity today has largely remained silent, in the eyes of much of black America, in responding to the racism being expressed towards them. I tend to agree. Yes, many have been afraid to speak for fear of being labeled the very thing they are trying to avoid being seen as, a “racist.” Others, would just rather avoid the charged issue all together and keep their hands clean. I understand that pressure.

Yet, I just don’t see Jesus ever being silent or content with non action with regards to those who are on the receiving end of physical, spiritual, or emotional violence, abuse, marginalization, or discrimination. Jesus has always been colorblind to race, and a defender of the oppressed.

We Christians have, because of Jesus, the solution to racism, the only solution…not policy, slogans, or politics… but Grace. Pure Grace.

For Grace puts everyone on the same playing field. All are of equal value, worthiness, and hope. Grace does not judge nor condemn. It is the only thing that solicits true change in heart, mind, and behavior. It is the only answer to sin and life.

It does not evaluate ones identity by the color of skin, nor even the content of one’s character, but by the quality of Jesus who created all and qualifies all for every blessing, despite one’s performance in life. For Grace sees all people as the loveliness of Jesus, and nothing less, regardless of their personhood.

Racism cannot live nor grow where Grace is planted. Grace is the great equalizer. The kryptonite of labelers. The leveler of all that would Lord over, look down, or declare privilege or entitlement.

Only Grace can win against race.

We all would do well, to become and be people of Grace. Whites and Blacks.

I for one, have had a change of mind and heart regarding my black, brothers and sisters. The oil of Grace has penetrated this area of my thinking, believing, feeling, and behavior. For my whiteness has become to me, my new black. Walking in shoes never worn, walking in ways never walked. Loving the freedom to love completely and without restraint, black people everywhere. They are my brothers and sisters, deserving of my ardent defense, love, ear, and honor, not because of some political correctness, or religious call to do so. Not because of some kind of minority or majority construct, but because we are, and always have been, in fact… equal. Their history is my history, their present, my present, their future my future, because at the end of the day, we are all human… together.

I am a white Christian, but not the same white Christian I used to be.

Grace wins, yet again.

Do Black Lives Matter?

When the Ferguson incident happened some weeks ago, I was quickly prompted by several people to give some kind of response.  Of course, it was clear that more than anything, they wanted to see if what I had to say agreed with what they had to say about it all.  When I took a neutral stance and stated that I hadn’t formed a clear point of view yet, many were even more frustrated with me, and some went ahead and decided for me as to what I believe; putting words, thoughts, and feelings in my my mouth and heart that I did not, nor still do not have.

I am not an expert in race or race relations, nor have I been a victim of slavery or birthed into a racial minority. I have very little frame of reference as to what it feels like and means to be a black person in America. Equally, I have never been a police officer or a part of our legal system. No one in my family has ever been in either of these arenas.  I have very little frame of reference as to what it feels like and means to be a police officer of part of the legal system in America.

We are so quick to speak and slow to listen in our culture. And furthermore, we often place our agendas, experiences, and emotions above the truth about things, or the seeking thereof.  I know have been guilty of this myself in other issues. I became so sure that I knew the truth before I in fact, knew the truth.

I have no clue as to the complete truth about the Ferguson tragedy, or any other. I have read the same articles and reports as you. But for me, the final conclusion is… I wasn’t there at the incident and I was not a part of the legal process.  Does that make me a racist that I don’t declare war on white police officers and our legal system? No. Does it make me a cop-hater and one who does not value our legal system because I don’t automatically side with officers and juries involved in any and every shooting or incident? No.

But here is what I do know…  When there is perceived to be an error of people in practice or thinking (such as racism) the predominant reaction is to quickly swing the pendulum the other direction, often over emphasizing things in an effort to correct things.  In my own line of work, this happens frequently. When there is an error of people in their practice or thinking about God or the Christian life, some quickly swing the theological pendulum in the other direction, unintentionally creating another theological error in order to bring correction to a previous one.

Yet, what is needed is not over correction, but to find true correction.  Not a mark north of north, but true north.

The truth is, the only statement, call, declaration or battle cry we could ever rightfully imagine coming from the mouth of Jesus, our Creator is ALL LIVES MATTER.  I understand where people come from when trying to bring justice to a perceived injustice. But, this is the only message that will bring us to the center, to the truth, and to the solution of racism of every kind and color. Otherwise, we will just be a perpetual, swinging pendulum of racism. When our practice and thinking in America aligns to ALL LIVES MATTER, then and only then will people be free and racism disarmed. Only then, will justice flow like a river, and all men be judged by the quality of their character not the color of their skin.

Do black lives matter? Of course they do. All LIVES MATTER…. police, victims, perpetrators, black, white, brown, rich, poor, enemy, friend, born, unborn. ALL lives matter. Until that is our song, our anthem, our heart, our cause, our banner, our focus, our resolve, we will fall short of God’s heart and continue to have racism (and injustice) of every kind and flavor… black against white, white against black, asian against hispanic, and on and on and on.

Because God hates racism and injustice of every kind, ALL LIVES MATTER, equally.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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