As Obama's historical acceptance speech coincided with the anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous speech, Jim happened to be reading about King and the Civil Rights Movement in Yancy's excellent book, Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. We were talking last night about the book, and how astounding and shameful was the church's position in the Civil Rights Movement . . . Yancey grew up in the South, and describes the churches that he attended:
During my adolescence I attended two different churches. The first, a Baptist church with more than a thousand members, took pride in its identity as a 'Bible-loving church where folks are friendly,' . . . I learned the Bible there. It had a loose affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination formed in 1845 when Northern abolitionists decided that slave owners were unfit to be missionaries and the Southerners separated in protest (!).
Apparently the (white) church was no different than the rest of society, perhaps even worse, citing the Bible as justification for racism, even patrolling the parking lot during services lest any black people attempt to enter . . . it makes me sick to think of it, ashamed and confused . . . I wonder how God continues to allow us to bear His name when we continue to use His Word to abuse people.
Where did I just read . . . forgive me I cannot remember, can anyone help me with this? . . . that Paul was the First writer in Ancient Literature to suggest that all humans are created equal! We, the Church, of all people should be at the forefront of the battle for equality and dignity for every person! I cannot think about past failures of the Church without wondering how history will judge the Church in our generation? There is still so much injustice and oppression in the world, so much work to be done . . . .
But I am an optimist. I am delighted by this election! Political views aside, yaddi yaddi yadda . . . the fact that a woman nearly claimed the Democratic candidacy, and that a black man may be President or a nursing mother of five may be the Vice President . . . this is an intensely exciting election and no matter which party wins, it is a win for humanity. Yes, little by little, God's truth permeates society. With or without, sometimes in spite of, the Church.