RESPONSE TO RACISM IN AMERICA AND THE WHITE HOUSE
Dear Siblings in Christ!
I deeply grieve the realities of racism and white supremacy coming from the president of these United States. Racist names, racist videos and a racist agenda is not biblical love nor scriptural love.
Undoubtedly, the role and office of president has been hijacked by hate for the other, xenophobic hate, led by anti-immigrant, anti-queer, anti-black and brown motives. Any Christian that gives their allegiance to a political party or president over that of Christ, has lost its way. Any Christian Church that has surrender their heart and soul to a political ideology instead of Jesus' teachings has fallen to the sin of idolatry and needs to return to God.
The church of Jesus Christ must be reclaimed, true love for neighbor (any person regardless of identity, race or religion) needs to be recovered and authentic love for God (heart, mind, soul and strength) with all that one is and all that one has must be restored. This will be my goal, my motivation and my calling until Christ returns!
I continue to mourn the murder of yet another black body. I mourn with those who have seen the videos of Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. And the story of Breonna Taylor, which awaits justice. Who could ever find it normal to hunt down humans like animals? Place a knee on someone's neck for almost 9 minutes, while placing one's hand in their pocket. Who would ever find oneself dying at the hands of those who should be protecting them? How does one call the cops on the cops? Clearly, there is a race problem, and not even COVID-19 can change that. It is systemic, it is foundational, it is constitutional (just read the US constitution), and it is institutionalized.
Additionally, I mourn and lament the realities of our times, racism towards our Asian siblings. Who uses an ethnic racist joke to gain political support? Who gets excited about racism? Who compares an unarmed martial art that requires patience, energy and hard work to a deadly global pandemic? Who cheers when racist and harmful words are shouted at a church? Certainly one would think, not Christians.
The saddening truth is that a great number of the evangelical church has rendered their allegiance to whiteness, conservative politics and a racist president.
How can Jesus followers support and defend a president who demonstrates nothing of the character of Jesus?
Evangelicalism, was once primarily led by theological and biblical reasons. Although theology and the bible still remain important, today many evangelicals idolize whiteness, more than Christ. I am not uplifting a political group or a political ideology or any politician, instead I am pointing out a problem with the church, which by the way goes much deeper. No political party, no political ideology, no theological concept, and certainly no president is going to fix the problems within the church. Racism is just one of the ills of the church, but certainly a well embedded one. A president who won an election using anti-immigrant rhetoric, who continues to use racist and derogatory terms towards other groups that are not white and then laughs about it, and uses Jesus/the church to continue building political gain is saddening.
You see racism is not just found within the KKK or other white supremacist groups. Dr. Soong Chan Rah's work in The Next Evangelicalism and Michael Emerson, Christian Smith's work in Divided by Faith assist with defining racism. It is increasingly covert, embedded in normal operations of institutions and hidden by avoiding direct racial terminology, but it is still racism. Racism is the elevation of one race as the standard to which other races should seek to attain and makes one race the ultimate standard of reference. And when your pursuit is to place one’s dominant culture and race over another or even as God’s favor over another, that is racist. Using a Christian mega-church as a platform to say such insensitive things definitely sends that message.
What is most puzzling, is that many Evangelicals are so accepting of these racist terms. Don’t see them as racist. Many think they are funny, a joke, not a big deal. Something about all this makes no sense.
Jesus was not racist.
Jesus welcomed the stranger and embraced the rejected.
Jesus loved the poor and had a special place for the outcast.
Jesus cared for the sinners of his day.
Who holds your allegiance?
I stand with all my Asian siblings in Christ, with all my Black siblings in Christ, with all my Brown siblings, with all my White Siblings in solidarity and unity. We will get through this together.
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WHO ARE WE?
Is this church part of a denomination?
Yes. We are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Part of the Pacifica Synod.
Is everyone Lutheran at Shepherd of the Hills?
Nope. In fact, many of our people come different traditions such as the United Church of Christ, Roman Catholic Church, United Methodist, Presbyterian, American Baptist and many other traditions. Read about our pastor, it should give you a better feel about our diversity.
What are your Sunday Services like?
We follow the ancient liturgy of the church (readings from scripture, sermon, prayers, chanting, weekly eucharist and benediction. We also sing ancient hymns of the church and our choir sings as well. In many ways we carry on ancient tradition, but we also seek innovation. In fact, we in the midst of some creative and unifying times with our partners in ministry, Crave Life Faith Community www.craveunity.com and Thai Shepherd. Two other ELCA congregations that gather with us on the First Sunday of each month known as "Together is Better."
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