George Floyd, Slavery & Racial Prejudice

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George Floyd, Slavery & Racial Prejudice

3 June 2020 Hits:1578

I want to make it clear that this blog is not a judgment on America. We have plenty of race-related challenges in Australia, so I’m not about to point the finger at another country.

But right now, the world is watching on in horror at the events in the United States. The brutal murder of George Floyd is just the latest in a string of black people killed by police.

Many of them were going about their daily lives (sleeping, driving, walking, at home) while others had a mental health episode and desperately needed professional help.

Many of them became hashtags that were quickly forgotten by society. So, it’s easy to understand the boiling anger of people who feel unsafe.

The Latest Victim

George Floyd had a criminal past. He’d spent time in jail for a 2007 assault and robbery and convicted of charges ranging from theft of a firearm to drugs.

Several years ago, George Floyd moved to Minneapolis for job placement and a Christian discipleship program. He became a committed Christian and wanted to turn his life around.

Then came the fateful day when George Floyd was accused of handing over a fake $20 bill to buy some cigarettes. It’s unlikely that Floyd knew the bill was fake. The store owner said they would no longer call the cops in similar situations: “Police are supposed to protect and serve their communities; instead, what we’ve seen over and over again is the police abusing their power and violating the people’s trust. We realize now that escalating situations to the police almost always does more harm than good, even for something as harmless as a fake bill.”

The video of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd is horrendous. People standing around are begging Chauvin to get off his neck. Neither Chauvin nor the other officers do anything, and Floyd falls unconscious.

Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce; and riots and looting grip America. No doubt there is opportunism going on, but this should not blind us to the deep anger and frustration of many Americans, not just African Americans.

Enter the US President

In the midst of this, the US President had a photo opportunity with a Bible in front of St John’s Church; a little like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.

Protesters had been cleared from the area using force minutes beforehand.

The cynic in me thinks this was a political ploy to shore up the Evangelical vote that brought him to power four years ago. With a looming election and dismal polling, he needs to do all he can.

The vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with their president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the riots.

Racial Resentment

According to Ryan Burge (Eastern Illinois University), white evangelical Christians have the highest racial resentment score in the US.

How bizarre that followers of Jesus (and readers of the Bible) should be totally out of whack with his teachings.

But this research sheds some light on why the deep racial divisions thrive even in a profoundly religious country.

One hundred and fifty five years have passed since the 13th Amendment ended slavery, but white superiority and its corresponding prejudice and brutality are alive and well.

The Curse of Ham

Justification for slavery was based on a flawed doctrine called “The Curse of Ham” (Genesis chapter 9).

The story occurs in the context of Noah’s drunkenness and a shameful act perpetrated by Noah’s son Ham, who “saw the nakedness of his father.”

A myth was proclaimed by certain preachers that Ham’s punishment was for his skin to be turned black: “Cursed be Canaan [Ham’s son]. The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers” (Genesis 9:25). This erroneous teaching has justified enslaving black races for hundreds of years; they’re inferior, they’re cursed, and the Bible is clear!

In the 1800’s, George Fitzhugh, an American lawyer and social theorist, argued that African slavery was “expressly and continually justified by Holy Writ [and] natural, normal, and necessary.”

Bishop Stephen Elliott of Georgia, suggested that slavery was beneficial for Africans: “For nearly a hundred years the English and American Churches have been striving to civilize and Christianize Western Africa, and with what result? Around Sierra Leone, and in the neighbourhood of Cape Palmas, a few natives have been made Christians, and some nations have been partially civilized; but what a small number in comparison with the thousands, nay, I may say millions, who have learned the way to Heaven and who have been made to know their Saviour through the means of African slavery! At this very moment there are from three to four millions of Africans, educating for earth and for Heaven in the so vilified Southern States…These considerations satisfy me with their condition, and assure me that it is the best relation they can, for the present, be made to occupy.”

Real Christianity

Contrast this with Frederick Douglass, the American social reformer, abolitionist, and Christian. About American Christianity in the 1800s he wrote: “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason but the most deceitful one for calling the religion of this land Christianity…”

How profound! I wonder if Frederick Douglass were alive today would he say the same about some sectors of Christianity in America? “I can see no reason but the most deceitful one for calling the religion of this land Christianity…”

A Christian that espouses violence against enemy, clears a crowd with tear gas to hold up a Bible, and is more likely than any other group in society to be resentful of non-white races, is far from the faith taught and modelled by Jesus.

There is no doubt that America has a massive problem on its hands.

What is needed is compassionate leadership, a de-politicised Christianity, and all people seeing all people as equal.

God created everyone in his image (James 3:9-10; Acts 17:28), and everyone has the same remote ancestry. That means every human being is our brother or sister with an equal right to worth, dignity, respect, and justice.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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12 replies on “George Floyd, Slavery & Racial Prejudice”

DelVsays:

Hi Rob,

Great points — might also be worth pointing out what the bishop of the church involved in the incident had to say:
“The Christian leaders were teargassed along with protesters and journalists, some of whom were also shot with rubber bullets and punched by officers as they cleared a path to the church from the nearby White House” [Guardian].

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/01/politics/cnntv-bishop-trump-photo-op/index.html
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/02/clergy-priests-attacked-police-washington-dc-st-john-church-trump-photo-op

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Thanks for pointing that out, Del. How absolutely horrendous

Marlene Smithsays:

Thank you Pastor Rob for being candid about your own opinion of the “fake” Christianity of the present leadership in the USA that has used the word “fake” countless times for anything that was not pleasing, but is far from walking in the way of the One who is The Way, The Truth and The Life.

Shane Bohnertsays:

Thank you so much for sharing. I’m from the US and have been following your blog for a few months now. I always appreciate your perspective and have shared many of your posts with friends and family. It’s such a sad time. Christians have long taken political sides and have chosen to view things through a political lens rather than a Biblical lens. I fear we American Christians have really pushed people away from the faith, rather than attract them to the love of Jesus. We are quick to oppose Black Lives Matter, support the Zero Tolerance Policy, and align ourselves with whatever else the GOP preaches. Because ya know, if you’re a Christian, you just have to align yourself with the Republican party….Uggghhh….I’m just so sick of it. Praying for change. Thank you so much for sharing. I really needed this.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

I’m so glad you’re finding some encouragement in my blogs at this time, Shane. I agree with you, the US church’s alignment with the GOP is a hindrance to the Gospel. Check out David Kinnaman’s book, “Unchristian” as some very good research on this. Particular the chapter on the church being too political.

James Cowleysays:

Where can I find the questions that were used to find racial resentment in the above mentioned study?

Deborah Lambeinsays:

Rob, while the murder of George Floyd was horrific, you are buying into “fake news” and negating all the good, moral police officers–the majority of officers–in this country who put their lives at risk every single day to keep America safe. Please watch the following video by Conservative commentator Candace Owens for another perspective.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtPfoEvNJ74&feature=emb_share&fbclid=IwAR0gSCssgrUlojBgx3dIoSwpcw8phZzgR9XT4bBXOAmXhhHZpBUIBiEWE0s

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Thanks for your comments, Deborah. I am not buying into fake news at all. I am widely read and carefully researched. There are no comments in my blog that negate “all the good, moral police officers–the majority of officers–in this country who put their lives at risk every single day to keep America safe.” However, there are a disproportionate number of people of colour who are harmed or killed by heavy-handed policing. There is a desperate need for culture change in US, and Australian, police forces.

Deborah Lambeinsays:

Hi Rob.
First, keep in mind that most homicides here in the U.S. are black on black crime in the inner cities—largely because of a diminished police presence. As accusations of racial profiling rose against law enforcement (much of it undeserved), police became less apt to venture into black neighborhoods, and consequently, crime skyrocketed. Yes, there are “bad” cops, but systemic racism does not exist.

As far as gun control, rather than looking at guns as the primary source of violence, consider changes in society—a breakdown of the family, a banning of the Bible, identity politics, eradication of our history, a disrespect for God, family, and our Constitution. For decades leftists pushed their agenda and America reaped the results: less individual responsibility, higher unemployment, escalating poverty, bigger government, a swell in violent behavior, single mothers and absentee fathers, and more votes for Democrats—all a direct result of their left-wing policies.

Today in America, African Americans have unlimited opportunity, bolstered by programs such as affirmative action, subsidized rent, free housing, Medicaid, food stamps, drug rehabilitation, educational scholarships, The First Step Act, Opportunity Zones, Federal funding for black colleges (the latter three enacted by Trump), and companies like Acumen America, a seed stage investment fund focused on helping low-income families. If you are black in America, you have advantages whites don’t.

Democrats pander to blacks for votes, promising them all sorts of perks and improvements, and then, once an election is over, they offer them no lasting help, and the cycle begins all over again. President Trump is trying to break that cycle by implementing such action as roundtable discussions with Black community leaders and businessmen, and increasing access to better education. As far as his photo op in front of the historic St John’s Episcopal church after it was burned by looters, it was nothing short of an effort to remind us where our priorities should lie. Leave it to mainstream media to twist the message.

Organizations such as Black Lives Matter claim to be ministers of reform, equality, and justice when actually they are stoking the flames of chaos and division, promoting a leftist agenda and profiting off of “victimhood.” Find out who their sponsors are and what their “true” agenda is. I would suggest reading some alternative viewpoints by such African American scholars as Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Carol Swain, Dr. Wilfred Reilly, and Dr. Walter E. Williams. Not all African Americans feel disadvantaged in America.

It would take an entire book to cover the subjects being discussed here. I will close by saying again, beware of what you read and hear from the Left. These are the wolves in sheep’s clothing I was talking about. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) What sounds “altruistic” isn’t always.

Deborah Lambeinsays:

And, Pastor Rob, let me assure you, that “The vast majority of Americans are NOT dissatisfied with their president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the riots.” At times, President Trump’s rhetoric is harsh and off-the-cuff, but it is honest (He is not a politician)…and I would MUCH prefer honesty to the pandering self-serving lies and agenda that are coming from the Democratic Party. PLEASE do not take every thing from the biased-left media at face value. Do some in-depth research. Thank you for your time. and God bless!

John Thompsonsays:

There’s a lot of criticism of President Trump,however there has been numerous prophetic words saying how God is working thru Trump.The Bible is full of ratbags that the Lord chose to carry out his will.And let’s b honest.We r all ratbags,that’s why there’s a Cross.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

I disagree, Deborah. Recent Polls show a massive dissatisfaction with President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the race protests. Sadly, it isn’t just the “Democrats/leftists” in the U.S. who don’t want opposing views. Anyone on the extremes doesn’t appreciate discussion ~ that’s one of the things that makes them extreme. According to Digital Trends, “most of the disinformation seems to be coming from the far-right” at the moment. Beware the extremists whatever label they wear!

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