Summer 2014 decided to go out with a bang. From the assassination of Michael Brown to the firing of Ray Rice, this season has decided to come to a slow and painful end. The newest headline in “athletes who’ve lost their mind” news is Adrian Peterson, of the Minnesota Vikings, being brought under scrutiny for child abuse. Peterson is accused of abusing his four-year old son for beating him with a switch to the point that he had visible cuts and bruises. In light of all these scandals and tragedies I have noticed an alarming response from many of the religious leaders and institutions in our country—absolutely nothing.
In the Civil Rights Era the church was a hotbed for activism. Black leaders and activists met in churches in order to organize and plan their next moves for the fight. Granted, I’m sure every single church on every single block wasn’t hosting “protest meet and greets,” but there was a very real and strong connection between the Black Church and Black Activism.
The major response I hear from fellow Black Christians nowadays is “Jesus has the final say so” or “God will be the final judge.” As comforting as those phrases are for some they tend to accompany complete and utter inactivity on the part of the person saying them. The inability of some Christians to be equally rooted in a call to action for human rights and a call to serve Christ is disheartening.
I know several Black agnostics and atheists but overall most Black people I know are on some spectrum of Christianity. Whether it’s “I just go see Jesus on Sundays once I’m fresh from the club the night before” or “I read my Bible everyday” most Black people I know have some connection to either Jesus or the Church or some combination of both.
The Church is a massive potential tool for mobilizing Black action and activism, and it’s a shame that many Black Christians seem so okay with shrugging their shoulders and hiding their ambivalence behind a scripture. We, as Black Christians, should see the rampant slaughtering of Black youth and the general apathy of the population toward Black women as a warning sign that playing the role of the docile, silent Christian won’t save you, your brother, your cousin, your auntie or whoever else you hold near and dear to your heart. So we should take the lead from the leader of our faith himself, Jesus Christ, and turn over some tables in the name of freedom.
In no way am I saying to throw down your bibles and pick up your picket signs this very minute. I’m saying that there has to be more to our faith than standing on the sidelines while injustice tiptoes in its Jordan’s all up and through our community.
To the churches that have spoken out and mobilized I commend you, and I hope we, as a Christian body, follow your example when our communities are faced with oppression.