The sound and the fury about the presence and the persistence of racism have been loud and boisterous from much of the public, both here in this country and around the world, but the fact of the matter is that this world cannot get rid of its disease called white supremacy.
It baffles those who believe in the notion of a “good God.” That god, they posit, is the creator of all people, and that means that God created black people. If people in fact do believe that there is one God, that that God is sovereign and “good,” how is it they can hate anything or anyone whom God created?
A person said to me not long ago that the “problem” of resistance against homosexuality in her institution has been all but “fixed.” Not many years ago, trustees of her institution resigned in anger as the subject of homosexuals and their rights were brought up. Now, she said, that problem has been solved. The resistance is still there, but not like it was. There are homosexuals on the board and in other leadership positions.
“I don’t get it,” she said. “Why can’t we get rid of racism? Who would have thought we’d handle homosexuality better than we do racism?”
In dealing with the issues raised by racial hatred, people of faith turn to God and to other spiritual sources for answers and encouragement. There is a real struggle in trying to reconcile the notion of a good God with white supremacy. It is troubling that many “good, Christian folks” are rabidly racist, and are given permission to feel that way from their pastors.
Too many so-called “evangelicals” have remained silent about racism; they have historically done so. Recently, a white evangelical pastor called out white supremacy in an emotional sermon. Greg Laurie, the pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California, said that America needs a “spiritual awakening” following the debacle in Charlottesville. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/greg-laurie-condemns-white-supremacy-socal-harvest-america-needs-spiritual-awakening-charlottesville-196144/) and A.R. Bernard, the founding pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, left an advisory council of faith leaders established by the president, citing a “deepening conflict in values. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-a-r-bernard-leaves-trumps-evangelical-advisory-board-citing-deepening-conflict-in-values-196058/)
But too many religious leaders are silent or in agreement with the tenets of racism. Some are silent because they are afraid they will lose their congregations if they speak up and speak out; congregations too often run the theological direction of any given church.
And because there is too much silence from those who are supposed to be the moral beacons in our society and in our world, white supremacy and its child, racism, lingers in our world like a canker sore.
It is said that Mohandas Gandhi criticized white supremacy and racism when he spent time in the United States. He said that if Christians followed the teachings of Jesus the Christ, the world would be revolutionized.
But even Gandhi internalized the world’s disdain for black people. In Ghana, there has been a move to remove a statue from the University of Ghana because he was “racist toward black people.” Gandhi apparently said many disparaging things about black South Africans, even as he fought for the rights of Indians. He followed the thought pattern of white supremacists, saying that Indians were more intelligent than black people – and worse. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/ghana-call-remove-gandhi-statue-racist-views-160920192941652.html) In October of 2016, Gandhi’s statue was removed from the university. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/06/ghana-academics-petition-removal-mahatma-gandhi-statue-african-heroes)
For black people, the struggle for basic human rights and dignity is an ongoing one, but the fact that the problem remains in spite of a sovereign God begs examination of our theological structure. Scholar Wes Howard Brook contends that the religion of empire, created largely during the days of the Roman Empire created a religion which was “opposite the religion of Jesus.”
The problem isn’t God; the problem is our distortion and manipulation of God for the sake of maintaining power for the state …and for the state’s desired people. Black people do not fit the description, in spite of God. In actuality, we live not in a monotheistic society but in a polytheistic society where there are at least two gods.
That being the case, with no isolated Sovereign God to direct our paths, we, God’s people, continue to live in a perpetuate hatred based on race. It seems that the issue is resistant to theology – because there is no unified theology to put it in its place.