You Might Be Wrong About Ferguson, and Racism

Does that title make you uncomfortable? Good.

Human nature leads us to people we trust for information. We all tend to create a small circle filled with experts that share our worldview. They think, act, and vote like us. They probably look like us too. This mutual admiration society feels good, because we agree on most things.

Unfortunately, this is a dangerous environment. It breeds an “us vs. them” mentality, and promotes a limited intellectual approach to life. Those truly interested in pursuing wisdom and knowledge will deliberately examine diverse perspectives before drawing conclusions.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in partisan political discourse. And Christians should never fall into this trap. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with favoring political parties or positions. But all too often in America today, white evangelicals view society first and foremost through a political lens. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to remind you that Republicans and Democrats aren’t in the Bible. Neither is America.

This cultural flaw among my fellow white Christians has been highlighted by what started in Ferguson, and is spreading around the country. I’ve been shocked and disheartened to watch many of my white Christian friends clinging to conservative political pundits for Ferguson analysis. They repeat rhetoric on social media that they heard spouted on radio stations and websites that depend upon their energized base to generate revenue. Basically, these pundits are telling you what you want to hear so you’ll keep reading, and they’ll keep making money.

Followers of Jesus, we cannot succumb to this flawed thinking! Instead, we must lean on Biblical truth and seek wisdom from our diverse community of believers. Let’s do both here.

While many Bible passages could be shared related to the spark that ignited in Ferguson, let’s just focus on the Greatest Commandment: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Instead of pretending that I know more than you about this portion of Scripture, I’ll just ask you to consider a few questions:

  • Are you loving your African American neighbor if you dismiss their concerns about racism in America? 
  • Have you asked your African American Christian friends how they feel about Ferguson? If not, why not? 
  • If you don’t have any African American friends, are you falling short of what Jesus expects of us in the Greatest Commandment?
  • Have you asked your Pastor what the Bible teaches about racism and justice? 
  • Have you taken the time to understand an African American perspective about Ferguson by reading any blog posts or articles from African American pastors?

My prayer isn’t that you would agree with me about racism, or about Ferguson. It’s not about me. My prayer is simply that you would open your heart and your mind to loving your African American neighbor. What’s the first step? Listening. Did you realize that many attorneys and African Americans are legitimately questioning whether the grand jury proceedings were just? Have you heard that many prominent white Christian leaders are calling for the church to acknowledge and address racism? Did you know that many of the statistics about black families and violence are incomplete and often misrepresented?

I’ll do my best to help you find these thoughts. I’ve complied a short reading list of some thought provoking articles about Ferguson written by Christians. I challenge you to read them with the Greatest Commandment in mind:

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

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