This is an excerpt from the chapter entitles "The Blood Cries Out"
Did the early Church in America, in its role as priest, cry out to God in repentance for the shed blood of the Native Americans? Or did it join the chorus of “the world” in its refrain that the “savages” had to be removed to make a great America?
Was the early Church’s repentant voice heard on behalf of dead Africans, captured and dying in horrific conditions en route to American shores? Did the post-slavery church account for the execution of runaway slaves or the post-slavery lynchings and massacres of African Americans? Is it possible that the Church’s relative silence in today’s era of unarmed African Americans dying at the hands of the police is merely an extension of its historical position?
I have been longing for religious leaders on a national and even regional level to provide guidance, to speak out, and fill the void as it pertains to police brutality. If innocent blood can cry out, if politicians, athletes, musicians, the media, and academia can speak out, why can't the church? I knew the racial chaos eventually would erupt into what we are seeing. Could the violence and escalation into riots have been lessened if the church had made its voice heard in a significant way? I believe the church's abdication has created a void that has been filled by so many other voices. Could the Church's voice have prevented some of what we see now?
This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently captures a lot of what I am trying to say.
“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Dr. King on Riots and Protest, 2020)
Like Dr. King, I am an advocate of non-violence. I don't condone setting businesses on fire, throwing rocks at police, punching, harming police officers, and definitely not looting. At the same time, I don’t see my political and church leaders condemning police brutality and racism in America’s system of policing as vigorously as they condemn riots. Further, I see less condemnation from political and spiritual leaders against armed counter-protesters that have killed unarmed protesters now on at least two separate occasions.
Just like Abel's blood cried out from the ground to God, the blood of murdered young black men cries out to God for a remedy. The Bible says there are seven things that God hates, and one of them is hands that shed innocent blood. Is the shedding of black blood only a crisis for the black body of Christ? Is there no need for the entire body of Christ to call attention to the shedding of innocent blood? Is the body of Christ supposed to be at the forefront in opposition to the seven things God “hates” and come together collectively and ask for forgiveness from God? I believe there is a measure of blessing that America will never experience as long as she has not repented for the shedding of innocent blood.
One of the most commented upon dynamics of the protests that mounted after George Floyd’s death was their demographic. Many took note of the white and other non-black protesters. My unsubstantiated belief is that the Church did not make up the majority of the many white and other non-black faces. How can the world lead the church in grieving the shedding of innocent blood? Again, I assert that what is important to God should be of high priority to the church.
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