Brian Kaylor of Word and Way writes that when the Baptist World Alliance met for the first time since 2019, the issue of racial equality was at the forefront of the gathering.
In Birmingham, Ala., Preacher John Jenkins criticized other Christians for remaining silent in light of the growing movement to more thoroughly address systemic racism in the United States. He also expressed frustration at the backlash against efforts meant to bring public attention to racial inequality.
“There’s far too many people of faith across the country who have remained quiet,” Jenkins declared before quoting from the most famous letter written in the city. “While in jail for protesting segregation in America, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail that said we would ‘have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.’”
“Wherever the early Christians entered a town, the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being disturbers of the peace and outside agitators. But they went on with the conviction that they were a colony of heaven and had to obey God rather than men,” he said. “They were too God-intoxicated to be intimidated.
“Things are different now. The contemporary churches is so often a week, ineffective voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo,” he added. “Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s side.”
As an example of the backlash against efforts to address systemic racism, Jenkins pointed the treatment Colin Kaepernick after he kneeled during the National Anthem at NFL football games. Even that “nonviolent, peaceful gesture,” Jenkins said, led to him being “crucified” and “blackballed.” Such treatment, Jenkins added, “tells us that no method is going to be acceptable to the oppressors.” But Christians should react differently.
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