Sunday, August 27, 2017
Baptist pastor preaches on racism: do citizen journalists have a special duty to single it out?
Today Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC gave an important sermon, “The Gospel and Racism: “Who Do I Say that I Am?” based on Matthew 16:13-20 (sermon link)..
Today, if a Clark Kent-type teen (out of Smallville) showed up with powers as an angel or the future Christ, I doubt he would be going around saying “Follow Me”. He might resent false praise (like in “The Rich Young Ruler”) or being stared at or followed around. He probably wouldn’t come out (pun) with a confrontational aphorism like in that Matthew quote.
The pastor summarized early US history, including doctrines like Manifest Destiny and Discovery, as well as the earlier development of the slave trade from Europe with at one time the blessings of the Catholic Church as justified by the Bible and “God’s will”. Christianity could give us the Crusades, or it can give us the humblest of charities and vows of poverty.
Hymnology could give us “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (which we sung in middle school chorus) and “Onward Christian Soldiers” (which is performed near the end of the WWII British dramedy “A Canterbury Tale”). But it also gives us “Bless Be the Tie that Binds” which we used to sing in the 1950s and the Sunday night youth program after the Church opened (on Christmas Day 1955).
Russell went on to explain the concept of generational advantages as they apply to race. As a result of these accumulated opportunities, white people are more likely to own their own homes, and white families average 13 times the net worth of black families. This gets into the moral question of what an individual is supposed to do about his or her own inherited “privilege”. Russell did not take the sermon into that territory, but returned to the Matthew Text.
But the sermon logically asks the question: do citizen journalists have a special responsibility to call out racial injustice (as in the Charlottesville incident and President Trump’s initial refusal to call out white supremacists seeming to promote violence and lynching – Russell seem to be refer to Gode Davis’s “American Lynching”, incomplete film, at one point)? Trump probably said “both sides” because he was referring to Antifa (and the female counter-protestor who was killed by the car was not part of that group, but peaceful).