As I sit in Pastor Villarreal's office holding a bottle of murky brown water drawn from the taps at Salem Lutheran, she tells me about the deep pain resonating throughout her neighborhood. She describes the guilt of parents who gave their children lead-filled water to drink, of the frustratingly slow state response, of the opportunistic lawyers and media now spilling into Flint.
I hurt for those who are sitting in the pews, baptized as teenagers, and now barely holding on. I am crushed for the Christians seeking sanctuary on Sunday morning, who instead find one more obligation they must meet. The Christians who need a holy place to come, lay down their burdens, and simply rest.
From Ferguson, Missouri, to Charleston, South Carolina, communities are suffering the lethal consequences of our collective silence about racial injustice. The church should be a source of truth in a nation that has lost its way. As the dominant religion in the United States, Christianity is directly implicated when we Christians fail to speak more honestly about the legacy of racial inequality.
To put this in a religious context: overcoming the divisions of race has been central to the church since its beginning, and the dynamic diversity of the body of Christ is one of the most powerful forces in the global church. Our Christian faith stands fundamentally opposed to racism in all its forms, which contradict the good news of the gospel.