Christians Must Stand Up Against the Newest Forms of Racism
Being Christian means staying focused on spiritual goals. But that does not mean we can ignore what is going on around us.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been shocked and disheartened by the surge in anti-Semitism. Yes, the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. partly stems from the fighting in the Middle East. But that’s not the only reason we are seeing an increase in hate crimes targeting Jews in America. We also see it fostered by an ugly cultural shift: reducing individuals to their race, skin color, or ethnic group has become fashionable again.
I speak of the rise of Critical Race Theory (CRT). This fringe offshoot of Marxism reduces nearly everything to race, posits that the United States is a fundamentally racist country. After the turmoil of the past year — including the riots that followed the death of George Floyd — CRT has gained increasing influence. Schools, governments, and corporations take up its mantle, ostensibly to demonstrate sensitivity to the issue of race in America.
Being Punctual and Polite Is NOT “Acting White”
Unfortunately, CRT is only deepening our country’s racial divide, as it is incapable of seeing anything but race. As an African-American mom, I have been deeply disturbed to see critical race theory make its way into schools. I find especially appalling the insidious suggestion that certain virtuous habits, such as punctuality and competitiveness are somehow “white.” Critical race theory does not lift up my children. It reduces them to the color of their skin and provides cover for racist comments aimed at their white classmates.
This is not what the civil rights movement fought for. I consider it just racism dressed up in new clothing. I see it poisoning our schools, our discourse, and our nation as a whole. The rise of CRT gives people permission to heap blame and anger on white people for their “privilege.” Suddenly, powerful institutions approve the practice of stigmatizing people of one race for the actions (even the historical actions) of other people, now long dead. What should we call any of that but classic “racism”?
Given the rise of critical race theory, I find it unsurprising that same type of tribal blame and hate get aimed at the Jewish people. Sadly, our Jewish brothers and sisters have a long history of being targeted for their beliefs and identity. Eighty years after the Holocaust, such hostility remains. More than 50 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we are back to judging people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.
We’re Backsliding to Bigotry
For a long time, it looked like we were making progress on issues of race and bias. Now, it seems like we are regressing. I realize that this is an issue of the heart, but that is where Christians can make a real difference.
This week, I spoke about anti-Semitism and Critical Race Theory in a video aimed directly at my Christian brothers and sisters. I took as my inspiration the words of our Lord: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
As Christians, we are bound by a higher purpose and a higher calling. But that does not mean that we can bury our heads in the sand and ignore what we see going on around us. We see a great evil in this surge of racism and anti-Semitism, and it is our duty to oppose it.
We can do so by following Biblical teaching and reaching out with love and compassion. Instead of rushing to judgement or condemnation, we can encourage people to listen to each other. Instead of deepening racial and cultural division, we can teach forgiveness and understanding.
The left has used CRT and the conflict in Israel to stir up emotions and push its political agenda. But we cannot allow our country to go down a path that is forged by anger and division. That road can only lead to more suffering and an America that has abandoned its principles.
Christians may not belong to the world, but we do have a responsibility to it. We must bring Biblical values back into our national discourse and put an end to the politics of anger, hate and division.
Deborah De Sousa Owens is the Executive Director of the Coalition of African American Pastors and the Founder of Mission Education.