BreakPoint: The Church vs. Hatred

Proclaim Love in Word and Deed

The words “hate,” “bigotry” and “intolerance” are mis- and over-used. But that makes it more important that we speak out against the real thing when it’s there.

President Trump began his first address to Congress by citing “recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries,” and a “shooting in Kansas City.” This was his prologue to saying that the United States “stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its forms.”

I’m so glad that he spoke out.

But let me also hasten to add that we shouldn’t leave it to the President to remind us of the need to condemn hate and evil – that’s the job of the Church.

The past few months have witnessed, to borrow from Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” a “rough beast” slouching to be born. That “rough beast” is open, and sometimes violent, expressions of bigotry and intolerance.

Now Christians have ample reasons to be wary of those words “bigotry” and “intolerance,” since we’re often unjustly accused of both. But to use the medieval Latin phrase, “abusus non tollit usum,” the misuse of something does not negate its proper use. There are such things as bigotry and intolerance.

Some of it, such as Texas high school students taunting their Hispanic opponents at a basketball game with chants of “build that wall!” are easy to rationalize as youthful hi-jinks, until you put yourself, as Jesus commands us to, in the shoes of the kids being taunted.

Other examples, such as the killing of an Indian-born engineer, and the wounding of two other people by a man who had earlier yelled “get out of my country!” are impossible to ignore. The fact that the man may been under the influence of alcohol when he pulled the trigger does not make the crime less troubling.

While alcohol lowers inhibitions, it doesn’t create the impulses being inhibited in the first place. To quote another Latin phrase, “in vino veritas,” or wine brings out the truth.

Likewise, the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester, New York, along with bomb threats against 120 Jewish Community Centers across the country is nothing less than alarming.

And it’s not just Jewish Community Centers. In the past two months, four mosques have been deliberately set on fire.

The good news is that, amidst all this hate, we have seen examples of grace: Two American Muslims raised over $140,000 to repair the damage done to Jewish cemeteries, and Muslim veterans have vowed to protect Jewish cemeteries. As one veteran tweeted, “If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it.”

Strictly speaking, while I am thankful for his words, I am not sure that it does. But there is no questions about Christianity. As Paul says in Acts 17, God determines when and where we live. And as Esther so courageously demonstrated in difficult times, silence is not an option.

In a world where the common good is increasingly thought of as a “zero-sum game,” in which your gain is my loss, we’re called to proclaim, in both our words and deeds, that God in Christ has broken down the wall of hostility that separates one group from another. (Ephesians 2)

And we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. At a bare minimum this means that we are as concerned about their freedom, safety, and dignity as we are about our own.

Every vandalizing of a cemetery, attack on a mosque, or act of bigotry should trouble us. If it doesn’t, then Jesus’ words “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them,” should drive us to repentance.

And if we remain silent, our claims to religious freedom will begin to sound so much like special pleading—not only to our neighbors but to God, as well.

This way of being the Church does not and should never require a presidential go-ahead.

 

Further Reading and Information

The Church vs. Hatred: Proclaim Love in Word and Deed

Pray that we, the Body of Christ, the Church, will be motivated to live out Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially in the midst of hate-filled attitudes and actions.

Resources

Donald Trump's Congress speech (full text)
  • CNN.com
  • February 28, 2017

  • Mike Moyer

    Although President Trump did address recent hate crimes and bigotry, what he did not acknowledge was any personal responsibility for the uprise of these actions and attitudes since his election. It is clear to me and many others that our president’s rhetoric during the campaign and certain executive orders have in part been responsible for this surge in hate crimes and bigotry. Acknowledging his own responsibility is of course something that President Trump would not do, but I would have a lot more respect for him if he had done so.

    • usnpao

      So the President is responsible for the regressives rioting at Berkley, and during the inauguration, and at every single other anti-Trump rally? Place blame where it is due – on the whiny-ass children who are throwing temper tantrums because their candidate lost.

    • RichJ

      Mike please look into this matter deeper. You will find that the ” personal responsibility for the uprise of these actions and attitudes since his election” is because of the hate mongering on the Left. Trump has said or done nothing to encourage this sort of antisemitic activities, unlike the last president.

  • The Bechtloff

    The one in New York at least was ruled by the police to not be vandalism. Even leftist hacks CNN are admitting that now. Many, perhaps even most, of these “hate crimes” turn out to be hoaxes when investigated further.