An open letter is making the rounds on social media that’s drawing a dangerous line between 1950’s era racism and Black Lives Matter propaganda.
Signed by several dozen ministers and scholars, the letter begins with classic “Church of Christ” smugness about not picking sides in politics. Growing up in the Church, I’ve heard variations of this self-satisfied line many times before:
“We write this letter not as Democrats or Republicans or as partisans of any political philosophy, but as Christians who are partisans of the kingdom of God described in the biblical text.”
The letter goes on to ask what Christians should do in the face of the increasingly tense racial relations in the United States.
“The biblical text is clear: racism is a sin. It violates Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
“But here we have another choice. We can read the biblical text through the lens of American culture or we can read the culture through the lens of the biblical text.
Put another way, we can acknowledge that racism is a sin and behave accordingly, or we can act as if racism is only a minor problem or, even worse, participate in the racism that scars such large segments of this nation.
Half a century ago, Churches of Christ faced a similar crossroads with respect to race and we did not respond well.”
From here, the authors trudge through the church’s ugly history with racism and bigotry, specifically as it relates to Christian colleges and integrated worship.
They note that it took “a Bible professor at Abilene Christian College named Carl Spain” to change the game:
“The Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 that segregation in America’s public schools was unconstitutional. Spain took that argument in an entirely different direction. He claimed that segregation on the basis of the color of one’s skin was unbiblical and fundamentally anti-Christian.
But by 1960, six long years after the Court’s ruling, Abilene Christian College—along with every other Church of Christ-related college in the South remained segregated. Not only that, but many white congregations of Churches of Christ refused to allow blacks to worship with whites.”
The authors claim we’re seeing history repeat itself. They say that despite the progress the church has made, we’re seeing a redux.
“Once again the nation finds itself in racial turmoil based, in turn, on persistent segregation patterns. And Churches of Christ reflect the same patterns of segregation that prevail in the larger culture. So the question cries out for an answer: How will we respond?”
Up until this point, I agree with the sentiment of the letter–aside from the apolitical posturing. Racism isn’t a fantasy. It’s a very real phenomenon. I don’t think any Christian believes otherwise. But here’s where the authors begin to draw a specious moral equivalence (emphasis added):
“But racial bigotry is only half of our problem. The other half is widespread misunderstanding on the part of many white Americans—including many white Christians—of the unique set of challenges that faces American citizens if the color of their skin happens to be black. Nothing has reflected that reality more clearly than the popular response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Today most white Americans—including most white Christians—celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Freedom Movement that he led. But many fail to see that Black Lives Matter is only the most recent incarnation of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
If King were here today, he would stand in complete solidarity with Black Lives Matter in their desire to talk about the ways in which black lives are deprived of basic human rights and dignity. Those who doubt that truth only reveal the extent to which so much of white culture in this country has trivialized the legacy of Dr. King.
Black Lives Matter seeks to communicate one simple truth—that black lives matter, TOO. It goes without saying that white lives matter. Everyone understands that and agrees with it. The message the black community wants to communicate is that black lives matter, TOO! But many whites—including whites in large segments of American Evangelicalism and many whites in Churches of Christ—trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement with the slogan, ‘All lives matter.'”
The authors then use a clumsy analogy to explain why “All lives matter” is mean:
“Here’s an analogy that may help us understand this issue a little better. Let’s suppose that a black family’s house is on fire, but when the fire fighters arrive to save their house, white neighbors protest the concentration of attention on just one house because, ‘All houses matter!'”
Let’s break this down into digestible portions.
Two things are clear to anyone with functioning senses. First, as a nation, we’ve made extraordinary progress over the last seventy years when it comes to race relations. Second, we’re not there yet. As I mentioned above, racism still exists. We live in a fallen world. As such, there will always be people who hate; there will always be racists; there will always be bigots.
Don’t interpret my disagreement with this letter as my denying the existence of racism, or my denying the notion that certain institutions may have racial biases if the evidence is there to show such biases. That being said, Black Lives Matter is not “the most recent incarnation of the Civil Rights Movement.”
BLM’s very foundation, the Ferguson shooting, is a complete fabrication. The “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative, the one in which “gentle giant” Michael Brown was mercilessly gunned down by a racist white cop, has been shown to be demonstrably false. Eye-witness testimony from dozens of people (some of whom were black), as well as forensic evidence, corroborated Police Officer Darren Wilson’s account of the shooting.
However, when it was announced that the grand jury wouldn’t seek an indictment against Officer Wilson–because the evidence was clear–Ferguson imploded. Riots broke out, and shops run by people who had absolutely nothing to do with the death of Michael Brown were looted, and burned to the ground.
BLM shamelessly continues to use the Michael Brown shooting as a crucial piece of their narrative.
Outside of the Ferguson riots, BLM has shown itself to be a hate-filled ideological movement.
Look no further than the protest in Minnesota in which a group of BLM activists marched down the street chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!” Or the protest in New York City in which a throng of activists marched down the street yelling “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now!”
Those are just two of numerous instances of BLM’s cop-hating rhetoric caught on camera. Google for more.
What’s sickening is that BLM’s actions have had a real impact, directly contributing to the deaths of multiple police officers.
In December 2014, NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated as they sat in their police car by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who, just several hours prior to the murders, made his cop-hating intentions known via Instagram.
In July, five police officers in Dallas were assassinated by Micah Xavier Johnson. According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Johnson said he wanted to kill white cops.
BLM has even led to indiscriminate rioting and looting.
In August, a black cop in Milwaukee shot and killed a black man who refused to put down his stolen firearm. Guess what? The city burned. It didn’t matter that the officer was black. It didn’t matter that the suspect had a stolen gun and refused to drop it. All that mattered was that a cop shot a black man.
This is what BLM has wrought. Martin Luther King Jr. “would stand in complete solidarity with Black Lives Matter”? I hope not.
In response to the letter’s analogy: Saying “all lives matter” in response to “black lives matter” isn’t trivializing racism, it’s revealing the fraudulent claims made by BLM’s lying activists.
Now let’s look at some data. Is racism among cops an epidemic, as BLM claims?
African-American economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. and his colleagues spent over 3000 hours looking at “1,332 shootings that occurred between 2000 and 2015 in 10 major police departments,” according to Daily Wire.
The New York Times analyzed the results (emphasis added):
“…officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon.
But police shootings are only part of the picture. What about situations in which an officer might be expected to fire, but doesn’t?
To answer this, Mr. Fryer focused on one city, Houston. The Police Department there let the researchers look at reports not only for shootings but also for arrests when lethal force might have been justified. Mr. Fryer defined this group to include encounters with suspects the police subsequently charged with serious offenses like attempting to murder an officer, or evading or resisting arrest. He also considered suspects shocked with Tasers.
Mr. Fryer found that in such situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot if the suspects were black. This estimate was not precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But in various models controlling for different factors and using different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.”
Fryer called the results “the most surprising” of his career. Fryer did find that use of force such as pushing, handcuffing, and pepper spraying were higher for black suspects than white suspects in various cities, including New York City.
However, it’s difficult to know if the use of force had anything to do with racism, as the NYPD is fairly racially diverse. 16% of the force is black, 24% are Hispanic, 4% are Asian, and 54% are white.
Let’s take a broader look.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, “there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States.” In 2015, police officers killed 1,146 Americans. Of those Americans, 306 were black.
Here’s a hypothetical. If every single African American death at the hands of police officers in 2015 was unjust and grounded in racism, it would mean that 0.034% of officers are racist murderers. While that would be truly heinous, it wouldn’t constitute an “epidemic.” Would those officers need to be held accountable, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? Absolutely. However, 0.034% is minute–and that’s using an insanely overblown projection in which 100% of black deaths at the hands of cops are unjustified.
BLM wants Americans to believe that black people are being hunted down en masse by racist cops who want nothing more than to kill them. It’s hyperbole, and unfortunately, that hyperbole has led to the murder of multiple police officers.
The authors of the church letter simply parrot BLM’s hyperbole. After noting that many cops are good, they write:
“…when police kill black men, women and children on America’s streets without a trial, without a jury, and without a court-rendered verdict, black people plead with our white brothers and sisters, ‘we matter, too!’ The problem is that so many whites refuse to hear this cry and continue to trivialize the message that black brothers and sisters so desperately want whites to hear.”
There are certainly cases in which police officers unjustly kill African Americans–just Google Walter Scott–but the genius in BLM’s message is how they stretch the truth. They take reality, and severely warp it to suit their needs. These ministers have fallen into the trap of not only believing BLM’s extreme exaggerations, but condemning other white people for not doing the same.
The bullet points of my rebuttal to this church letter are the following:
- There are bad people in every profession, and that includes police officers.
- Police officers should be held to a high standard. If corruption is present, they should be held accountable.
- Among the over 900,000 police officers serving and protecting our communities, race-based corruption appears to be statistically insignificant.
- Racism does exist, and minorities are sometimes treated unjustly–even in our advanced society.
- However, Black Lives Matter is a hateful group predicated on a false narrative.
- That false narrative has gotten cops killed.
The church can recognize the racism in our society and condemn it without supporting the patent lies and exaggerations of BLM. It’s appalling that those who penned and signed this letter are foolish enough to conflate the issues of the 1950s and 1960s with the current Black Lives Matter movement.