Another Edition of “Adventures in Missing the Point”

Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

“Listen, you have to stop listening to Fox News. Just turn it off. Try another source for news. Try testing their assertions. Try thinking about what they are saying instead of just accepting it. Try listening to voices you don’t agree with from time to time; you might actually learn something.” That’s what I should have said. Let me explain…

Yesterday, as you probably (and hopefully) know, was Juneteenth. It was made a federal holiday last year when Senate passed it with unanimous consent and the House voted 415–14. That’s 515 members of Congress in favor of making this day a federal holiday. And 14 (all Republicans) who apparently didn’t think it was important enough to be raised to that level.

A brief history lesson: Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of the last slaves in America. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and a just a couple months after the end of the Civil War, federal troops entered Galveston, Texas to free the last remaining slaves in the United States.

As we all know, racial justice still had (and still has) miles to go, but that was a significant day in the life of this country. It’s the first day that every person in America was truly free. It is worth a celebration.

I took the opportunity to preach from Galatians 3:23–29 yesterday, specifically focusing on verse 28, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

As you can imagine, the topic of equality and the need to tear down barriers of division naturally flowed from this passage. It was pretty well received. I’m certain there were a few people who didn’t appreciate it because I did take the time to share some stories and statistics that show we are certainly a long way from true racial equality in America.

I’m used to people saying things like, “That was a great message” and “thank you for sharing this morning.” I did receive one of my favorite compliments from somebody who really seemed to understand and appreciate what I was saying. She said, “You said a whole lot without saying a whole lot.” That’s really my goal when it comes to preaching. I don’t use a lot of words, but I want to get a lot across in what I do say.

But then… there’s always another response.

One person, who complained to me a few years ago about how the media is out to get President Trump, decided that this was a good opportunity to tell me about the progress we have made as a country. “We’ve had a black President. Twice. We elected Obama into office two times. And Biden’s second person is black too…” Not a great start. I would agree that electing Obama was certainly a sign of progress, and if we hadn’t taken a major leap backwards in the following administration, I would be even more inclined to agree with that sentiment. But… then she kept talking…

“But now they want to get rid of white people. They want to open the borders and get rid of all the white people in this country.” I could not believe what I was hearing. Immediately, I said, “Now, that’s not even true. Stop.” That’s when she pulled the “I’m going to disagree with you but walk away so we don’t actually have to talk about it” move. As she walked off, she responded, “Yes it is. You just watch and see.”

It’s not like this “white replacement” theory hasn’t been floated in some parts of the media lately. It’s been thrust to the forefront after the shooting in Buffalo. And yet, here I was, hearing it right after preaching on the importance of equality in Christ for all people.

I was shocked, but I immediately knew she had been watching Fox News. I have a feeling Tucker Carlson is must see TV in her house. This is the kind of garbage that passes for actual journalism in some places, and it’s complete crap. How a person can sit and hear a message on equality and then spout off something like that is concerning and, frankly, dangerous.

Folks, please stop. This is the kind of stuff that perpetuates the ignorance and hatred in our society.

In the coming months, I want to work on being intentional about overcoming racial prejudice in our congregation, and it’s comments like this that make me think it’s going to be a lot more difficult than it should be.

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