Speaking out on George Floyd’s death

Adrian Chatfield writes: The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis left me with a welter of emotions: shock, horror, anger, shame, confusion. There are now so many strident voices clamouring for attention following this brutal act that I have wondered whether it is worth saying anything at all. Yet I feel I must, for silence is the greatest evil of all. I am reminded of Martin Niemöller’s oft-quoted observation that ‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’

I have used it myself in preaching, but in the present context it seems hollow for two reasons. The first is that it suggests unintentionally that our primary motivation for responding is a kind of quid pro quo. I should be moral lest my behaviour come back to bite me. Charles Kingsley gave us the fictional character for this in The Water Babies in the person of Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by. The second is that writing as a white male in the face of violence against an African-American, no one is about to ‘come for me’. I am in a position of great safety, strength and privilege.

Having been brought up in a white minority of 2% in Trinidad and Tobago, I personally never experienced racial hatred, and for that, I want to say thank you to my friends, acquaintances and parishioners. I ought also to thank my parents. My father did not smack me very often, but I will never forget the day when I was rude to our domestic servant, our maid. He slapped me across the face, quite uncharacteristically, and said, ‘Don’t you ever dare to talk to N. like that. She’s your elder and better.’

Lesson #1: Respect is not determined by status.

Trinidad is not perfect; nowhere is, but the love, care and respect which I was shown humbles me. The politics of Trinidad, early introduced by British colonial policies, meant that the Asian community was set against the African community, to weaken the influence of both and to preserve colonial authority. To this day, Trinidadian politics is bedevilled by this history, but Trinidadians themselves regularly rise above the imperative of political loyalty.

Lesson #2: All those Christians who say that we shouldn’t meddle in politics don’t know what they’re talking about. Not to meddle is to confirm the ungodly structures of power.

Fast forward many years to the Vaal south of Johannesburg, in Sebokeng and Sharpeville, we were the only white people, loved, cared for, never mistreated, never laughed at or mocked. Yes, I know we were in positions of so-called authority but truly it wasn’t about power. There was a sense that we were all dependent on each other. We drove 60 kilometres each Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist, which for many of them was the only ‘proper’ service. We were the only available priests, and they needed us. We preached in English, and they interpreted into Sesotho and isiXhosa. Without their interpretation, what we were saying was meaningless. They gave the words purpose and the power to strike home. Until we picked up a little of the languages, we didn’t even know whether they were being faithful to what we said, so we had to trust them. We needed them as much as they us.

Lesson #3: To be truly human in community, we must find the humility to admit to our need of the other, and the grace to recognize their equal need of us.

There is a particular problem for me as a white man. I have often mused on the fact that my own ‘white race’ finds it so hard to love ‘the other’, to speak with grace, to care regardless of circumstances? I know the history as well as the next person, the history of slavery justified by the fact that the people we enslaved were not human in the same way as we are human. 18th and 19th century eugenics (perpetuated in the ridiculous fascination with IQ—intelligence quotient and membership of Mensa) suggested that there is a fundamental otherness about black people that allowed us to treat them as non-people. In that way, some white South Africans used to hunt Bushmen for sport in the way one hunts game. When in the last few weeks I have struggled to understand how Donald Trump can believe that ingesting bleach might help against COVID-19, I have reminded myself that groups of humans regularly use pseudo-science to draw dangerous conclusions and to exclude others from their human care or embrace.

Lesson #4: Don’t think that scientific hypotheses will help you to define or organize your relationship with people, each of whom is uniquely and remarkably created different.

So why do white men (and women, but predominantly men), find it so difficult to relate with grace to people of other races? Forgive me if I generalize, because I guess that many reading this are grace-filled towards all peoples. I do think that our particular history of empire in the West has given the white man the sense that he is the perfect specimen of humanity, brought into being to rule the world. European empires did it for just long enough to allow it to penetrate the cultural subconscious and suggest that people of colour aren’t quite there, not quite perfect, not quite capable. Why else would mixed-race children in the Caribbean be defined by percentages of ‘colour infection’ as mulatto, quadroon or even octoroon? Not quite white, not quite normal, not quite fit to govern, to think, to belong.

At this juncture, I have to admit that despite all this, I am not racked with liberal pseudo-guilt. I am aware that as a man, I can fall into the trap of presuming the normality of manhood over against the abnormality of womanhood. The medievals regularly did that. I am also aware that the language I use can entrap me. While I am just a man, he is a black man. But I’m not about to take upon myself the burden of the sin of man’s inhumanity to man (Robert Burns). Guilt paralyzes, and if I am part of the problem, I need to understand myself better so that I can rather become part of the solution. Instead of pseudo-guilt, a little humility might be helpful. I am not the centre of the universe. I’m not even especially important. I certainly can’t think myself into the head of someone who, every time he goes out, is on tenterhooks waiting to be stopped and searched by the police because he’s black.

Lesson #5: Racism is not a problem that will be solved by my confession of cosmic guilt.

I said at the beginning that I felt a compulsion to speak out because silence was the greatest evil of all, a sentiment that Meghan Markle echoed when she said that ‘the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.’ My own experience of cultural and ethnic diversity means that I find it relatively easy to speak generously of those who are different, and to find racial stereotyping difficult to fathom. What is there not to like in other people’s appearance and way of being? But if it were only my experience that enabled me to speak like this, I would despair, for most people haven’t had the privilege of being a ‘third-culture kid’. Silence is the greatest evil not because I have more insight than others, but because racism is untrue to the Christian gospel.

Here of course I cross swords with the theology of apartheid, which took Acts 17.26 to mean that God created different races to exist in independence from one another:

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live.

My stance is also a challenge to prosperity theology, which presumes on a misreading of Deuteronomy inter alia that God privileges certain people because of their particular actions in ‘speaking the word’, and creates his own class system of the few fortunate alongside the poor wretched unfortunates of this world.

So in what ways do I believe that racism is counter to the Christian gospel? First, because the image and likeness of God belong to us corporately and not individually. If another individual is diminished or dehumanized by me, I certainly do not deprive her or him of that gift. In a strange way, my action scars or corrupts the body corporate, just as in an abusive relationship, victim and abuser are pulled down together.

Then too, there is something here about God choosing to value the human race, and indeed the cosmos, even when our scarred and corrupt nature and actions suggest otherwise. The act of incarnation is many things: a divine celebration of the physicality of the creation, a participation in that creation and a commitment to transformation. At the heart of it is the astonishing self-emptying of Christ, a bending lower than the low that the low might be exalted. If at the heart of God there is an impulse to bend down to reach those whom God might easily dismiss, this teaches me that if I share in the love of God, my ultimate calling is to bend low too. In the light of this, I have found the images of kneeling police and protesters especially poignant.

And of course there is the ‘small matter’ of the ultimate goal of the incarnation, that we might be restored, redeemed, renewed. A simple theology of identification (which many weak liberation theologies espouse) is a lesson in hollow empathy. It accomplishes nothing. God self-emptied that we might “escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1.4). In the light of God’s mission, we have no choice but to continue to love those who might seem unlovely to our narrow perspectives, to believe in the possibility of change in those who are hopeless cases and to invest all of life with the energy of our hope. For me, this involves embracing a faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ which is transformative individually, socially, politically and economically. Really, the whole creation is groaning in travail…

My original comment (posted on Facebook) ended with the following words, which I want to keep as a personal manifesto, and to remind myself of why I won’t let this issue go in the months and years to come. I owe it to God and to you:

I’m not writing this to assuage some supposed human guilt lurking in the corners of my heart. I just needed to say thank you to all my friends for letting me be me, letting me be different, letting me into your lives even though you were ‘not like me’. In the middle of a coronavirus epidemic, I needed to ask why we are more afraid of dying of that virus than of poisoning each other with the virulence of hatred of the other. I needed also to say, as a Christian, that I really believe that in Christ there is no inferior other—male, female, Jew, Gentile, slave, free—but all are called to be one, in Christ.

Adrian Chatfield taught Church History and Practical Theology at St John’s Nottingham, Systematic Theology in Johannesburg, and Worship and Spirituality at Wycliffe Hall Oxford and Ridley Hall Cambridge. He now lives in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and divides his time between offering spiritual direction and speaking at retreats and church conferences. He and his wife Jill love discovering what retirement means, through the camera lens, walking, running and by bicycle.

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24 thoughts on “Speaking out on George Floyd’s death”

  1. Adrian, thank you so much for this.

    I am wrestling hard atm with all of this. Seeking to listen, whilst feeling uncomfortable. Trying to work out why I feel uncomfortable, is it conviction, guilt, false guilt or a sense of dissatisfaction with the tone and the vision. And wanting to stand with those who are hurting.

    I am particularly interested in how the Gospel speaks into this, how justice and grace interact and where is redemption.

    Much love

  2. While I was employed in the NHS, a colleague from Nigeria was employed with BAME remit.
    He was a from a high ranking family in Nigeria, a tribe, as he put it.
    I recall a conversation a Local Authority officer had with him as he started apologising for white missionaries. ” I wouldn’t have come to know Jesus, without them”, was the gist of the response, which brought an immediate embarrassed change of subject from the Council officer.
    My colleague and I had a closer fellow felling than I had with any of my white unbelieving colleagues.
    There is only One on whom all the universal injustice, hatred, wrath and justice, mercy and forgiveness was poured out, to confound the certainty of our self- righteousness at every level. Only a profundity of understanding of the underserved grace of God in Christ Jesus will bring truth and reconciliation, forgiveness such as we have been forgiven and acceptance and justice where there is rejection and partiality.
    Jesus the Jew, who didn’t fit in, the rejected God, made us, of every tongue, tribe and nation, fit to be in him.

  3. In other forums, in describing the legacy of overt racism, I’ve mentioned the ‘cartel’ model (https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5771&context=faculty_scholarship ) nd sought to distinguish liability from guilt.

    Without intentionality, I don’t think that guilt is applicable.

    To explain liability, I’ve used the example of a widow who faces eviction because the estate faces debts racked up by her deceased husband.

    Now, that wife may have been scrupulous with credit. Yet, liability (of the deceased husband’s estate) might mean that she’ll lose her house.

    However, how would we view her predicament, if we knew that the creditor had died and his own family were impoverished by the unrecovered debt?

    Should we decide that the widow’s lack of intention or culpability relieves the estate of the liability incurred.

    That said, for Christians, what also plays into this model is the Parable of the Unmerciful debtor. Since, as Christians, we’ve been forgiven our monstrous debt towards God, we shouldn’t censoriously exact compensation from others, especially, if they’re only indirectly liable.

    Nevertheless, in the case of the widow, what would prevent reconciliation would be refusal to acknowledge that her estate is liable in any way. At least, in the parable, the debtor promised restitution: “Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.”

    Obviously, I can’t speak for all black people, but those I know are not looking for financial restitution from unwitting recipients of ‘white privilege.’

    Instead, what they want is acknowledgment of the harm caused and authentic and practical *moral* restitution, instead of moral inertia.

    Moral inertia can be the concomitant of the repeatedly re-hashing the equality formula: “We’re all made in the image of God”; “We should love each other in Christ.”

    Moral restitution goes beyond the repeated (ad infinitem; ad nauseam) advocacy statements (as if, were the opportunity provided, we couldn’t speak for ourselves).

    Moral restitution means encouraging BAME people (like me, Oyin Oladipo, Ro Mody and others) to contribute to your own platforms (social media, virtual meetings) for discussing the race issue.

    In contrast, to restrict whatever public platform that you have to the advocacy of white people on our behalf shows that you’ve either not understood the problem or that you don’t have the courage of your convictions about addressing racism.

    Moral restitution is reversing the Church leadership segregation that reminds black people of the plantation and makes them want to run away in any other direction.

    Moral restitution is building bridges with leaders of black-led churches and finding grass-roots opportunities for close collaboration and mission coordination.

    And there’s no time like the present to start doing this.

    • David
      Thank you. The Society for the Study of Theology has made strenuous efforts to invite/include black theologians in its governance and on its panels at Conferences. This is not tokenism, it is the (belated) recognition that there are theologians and scholars who are POC and they are not often included in reading lists.

  4. David,
    I have greatly appreciated your comments over some years on this site and your skin colour was unknown to me until a comment was posted with a small photo was attached and it had no relevance to your comments.
    I need to look at your linked article to understand more fully the points you make and seek to make (I’m on phone and half watching Ghandi ! on TV)
    Initially, I’m struggling with your categories of liability and guilt, transposed as you do into the field of morality.
    I’d see it more as questions of responsibility and accountability, duty even and how far this moves from personal to corporate: even taking vicariously liability how far does it extend down the years?
    And how far do we take cognisance of being vicarious beneficiaries.
    I am a white indigenous Englishman, the grandson of a coalminer, who fought in the Great War, son of a blue collar skilled trade, dad, an RAF sergeant in WW2.
    I live as a vicarious beneficiary in England.
    Do I continue to hold Churchill and his descendents to account, Thatcher and her descendents to account, for the harm to miners and their families? Does it make me want to run away to the mine (as opposed to the plantation?)
    Does the morality affix to them and their families, unpayable as it is and remains: even if moral entailments remain alive within living memory.
    For many years an advocate, I agree that advocacy is for those who can, even group advocacy, as an advocate from a group rather than for a group, but that advocacy.
    But what is the ultimate purpose of the advocacy? Reconciliation? Justice? Mediation?
    What concerns me, is that I don’t have the wherewithal to repay any moral debt that may be attributed to me.
    I’m also a little unsettled by an idea of segregation of black and white churches, though recognise that this may be more acute in some countries than others. The question would be: do we fit in as black in a white church as white in black?
    I’m clearly have little knowledge here and no experience, (except when attending a primarily black church to listen to their invited, white TV USA, Word of Faith advocate.
    Has the Dream of Dr Martyn Luther King, been trashed?

  5. If the footage of the brutal murder of George Floyd had depicted that poor unlovely policeman killing a white man, there would probably have been little protest, if any. So do past and present injustices dictate that one ethnic grouping is more deserving than another, more significant as human beings? Do dreadful acts from the far distant past determine a moral debt, still to be paid centuries or decades later? How long before slates are allowed to be wiped clean? Is my bad attitude today down to the ignorance of my ancestors or should I take full responsibility here and now?

    Is a white man’s life now worth less than that of a black man? Of course not: no one’s suggesting that; or does ‘Black Lives Matter’ somehow imply that they are? ‘Black Lives Matter Too’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ would be better, more healing, but not as punchy. What if today’s slogans are sowing the seeds of further strife tomorrow? And does evidence of political manipulation of protesters have no bearing on one’s choice to join in? What of the violence and vandalism of some protesters? Can today’s hot emotion justify tomorrow’s cruel payback? As usual the vast majority of citizens will have had nothing to do with any of this. If they’re not on the street, do they not care? There’s no end to all this if we wallow in it. Our escape has to be simpler but far more profound.

    Let’s put it this way: our salvation was not wrought on the basis of heightened emotion or rules of social etiquette between God and the unlovely human race. God’s love was worked out through hard determination, a patient plan and dogged persistence – all on his part. It was done deliberately and in achingly slow time over centuries, culminating in a betrayal for money, a midnight arrest, trumped up charges, wood, nails and a hammer on a rocky hill in the heat of the day, for all to see. The blood trickled down, body fluids released, the pain was excruciating, it became strangely dark and the end couldn’t come soon enough. Justice played no part, except by being conspicuously absent. There were no fine speeches, only a cry: ‘it is finished!’ And then the temple veil was torn in two.

    It was a brutal way to die – not uncommon at that time. But no event in human history will ever match its significance and its potential to change things, to make a better world. It was God’s determination to offer every individual one last chance (if he or she would take it) of a restored relationship with him that drove him to send his son deliberately to his death. And that restored relationship means that we don’t have to do all those centuries of work that God did to try and sort ourselves out. It’s done, once and for all. But people need to know.

    If we Christians don’t get that the only permanent solution to the insanity, injustice and waste of ethnic antipathy is found by people treading one by one up that rocky hill, seeing for themselves, and accepting the grace that is offered there, we really don’t have anything useful to tell the world at all. When there’s turmoil and anger, along with fear and blame, please may we Christians not waste our words on the evils of ‘white supremacy’ or the need to change the world. Others can and do say those things regularly and well – but it’s not enough. The world doesn’t change. If all we can do is echo that well meaning rhetoric, join with the mob and trash a few unloved statues, we’d better prepare for disappointment. Yes, they’ll know we share their pain – and that may make us feel really good about ourselves. But the world won’t have heard what it desperately needs to hear. And we’re the ones who’ve been given the task of telling it. Don’t we owe them that above all else and at all times?

    • I’m sorry, Don, but I can only reply with this quote from a black, American, pastor:

      “How convenient it is that when it comes to racism and white supremacy, the Evangelical solution is individualized heart change (which I believe in, btw). But when it comes to any other justice matter the Religious Right endorses, the solution is institutionalized policy change.”

      Of course ‘All lives matter’. But at the moment, the focus is on the injustices heaped on people of colour over a long, long, time.

      (Speaking a privileged white, middle-class Englishman, who has been married to a black Jamaican for over 40 years, and has seen something the realities of our society.)

      • Thanks, Jon, and there’s no need to be sorry. If we don’t all have a right to think for ourselves, and express our views publicly without apology, then we have a much bigger problem than racism to confront!

        The terms ‘Evangelical solution’ and ‘Religious Right’ immediately suggest a sectional interest which applies differently in the USA from the way things are here in the UK – both among Christians and politically. The notion of ‘White supremacy’ simply doesn’t exist here as it may still do in parts of the USA. While we may all take a view on what happens in other countries, I’d suggest that attempts to import problems (and associated anger) from one country to another as a way of creating political unrest (as I believe we have just witnessed) is destructive and wrong.

        But I would offer the thought that the issue of how we treat each other across ethnic divides is particularly fraught because it operates at both the institutional and personal level, whereas a lot of other issues have little or no emotional element at the person to person level. It’s a no-brainer for me that the presence of Christians in a society is always an influence for good if they are living faithfully as they should; and I think we should expect that truth to apply rather particularly in an area such as race relations.

        If that is true, then I have no doubt that our best contribution as God’s people for doing good in this sad area of strife is to pursue the Great Commission as our number one focus rather than get bogged down in political rhetoric about creating a better world. And surely we Christians all think that a by-product of there being more Christians is that the world will be a better place! Whether individually or globally, there’s surely never a time when the world’s need to find God drops down the order of priority?

        • Perhaps, but there seem to be quite a few people identifying as Christians who are certainly not making the world a better place!

          And with respect if the likes of Wilberforce hadnt gotten ‘bogged down in political rhetoric’ we may still have black slavery.


          • Yes, I get the point; but if Willaim Wilberforce had never heard the Christian gospel because other Christians were busy doing other good things but not sharing the gospel, he might not have been moved to achieve what he did.

            In my occasional comments I do try to be fair and not leave myself open to indefensible generalisations; so I would point out that I added the words ‘ if they are living faithfully as they should’ when arguing that the presence of Christians in a society is always an influence for good. Sadly we are not perfect and should never pretend that we are. But I think we Christians should have confidence and not apologise for the idea that more Christians are to everyone’s benefit; the salvation of each individual is the primary goal but making a better society, if only on the ‘salt’ principle, is a valuable by-product.

            As an aside, my instinct was to avoid dipping my toe in the hot water of debate over racism. I should have probably listened to my instinct…!

        • “The notion of ‘White supremacy’ simply doesn’t exist here as it may still do in parts of the USA.” Don, do you really believe that?

          • Thanks, Bruce. I was wondering how to reply to Don! The recent protests are not imported from the States. Those events have been a release for the very real problems in the UK – yes not as bad as the USA, but still there – perhaps in a more subtle and British way. My younger daughter sent my this Facebook post (hope the link works.) Not unusual in any way…. https://www.facebook.com/katie.roe.1238/posts/10163815598875375

          • As an archbishop in England, Justin Welby has chosen quite the most unhelpful moment to infer publicly that we have a problem of ‘white supremacy’ here in the UK. We’re used to hearing about ‘institutional racism’ here but the term ‘white supremacy’ has seldom, if ever, been mentioned in a British context. Before writing what I did, I looked for a straightforward definition of the term to make sure I was being fair, and this is what I found: “White supremacy is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore should be dominant over them.” Welby has actually judged that the current politically charged moment is the time to inject an unfounded and very unpleasant accusation at his own fellow citizens – unbelievable. The words ‘bandwagon’, ‘jumping’ and ‘foolish’ spring to mind!

            Given there are 66 million people in the UK, one may assume that every variation and nuance of opinion can probably be found somewhere. But in sensible discourse about politics and people in a country we obviously have to be sophisticated enough not to go down 66 million rabbit holes before we can make any meaningful observation!

            In my comment about white supremacy not existing here (in the UK) I purposely added the qualifying words: ‘as it may still do in parts of the USA.’ I didn’t state that not one single person holds that view here; I placed its prevalence in comparison to the likelihood of it being present in some places (not everywhere) in the USA where it may still be a recognisable problem.

      • Jon,
        Not sure where this will turn up in the list of comments:
        It relates to the black barrister (which I’ve seen somewhere else).
        1 The Bar. I suggest that the Bar, more generally is a representation of a “class system” rather than a racist system. (Gandhi was called to the bar.) Public school preferred, middle to upper class, family background: it is a class that is superior to solicitors. Even in my living memory, a solicitor’s article clerk, had to pay their principal to be trained.
        2 That man will not be the first to have been told they weren’t good enough, able enough to make it. (In any sphere of life.)
        3 His stop and search, may have been illegal, but taking into account the things, hammer and nails, his detention is something that could have happened to a person of any colour (and does).
        And yes there are prejudiced police who abuse their powers, and there will rarely be an apology for wrongful arrest and detention of anyone no matter the colour of skin. That reflects reality, and is not an excuse for abuse.

        • Geoff,
          I appreciate those points, but it’s a bit like the old quote about prayer – it may be coincidence but it happens more often when you pray (or something like that.) In Britain (fortunately less than in America) all those things you list happen to both black and white, but significantly more to black.

          I’ll try and back out of this whole thread now (nothing to do with you, Geoff) – it’ll probably end up as another one with everyone talking past each other… 🙂

  6. To come back to Madagascar, one problem they have is entrenched ethnic discrimination against different tribal groups within the country. Black on black. It features of course elsewhere in Africa. Adrian mentions the theology of apartheid using Acts 17:26 – but that is about nationhood not ‘race.’?

  7. This is helpful, but surely silence is not “the greatest evil of all” if it means that everyone needs to obsess and show their virtue on social media. Yes, we need to stand up and speak as and when necessary and appropriate, and (as a white person) I need to be an ally of BAME people.

    • I see that Banksy (perhaps mischievously) has suggested reinstating the Colston statue and enhancing it by adding protestors tying a rope around it to pull it down. It might then be a monument to repentance, but I fear that it would more likely be a monument to “I thank you that I am not like him”.

  8. Thank you for these reflections, Adrian.
    I’d value your thoughts on one issue that, as far as I can see, never gets much air-time when slavery is being discussed in the UK. We all accept the starting point that it was the white man who began the trade: how often, by comparison, do we hear mentioned the historical truth that it was the native African chiefs who willingly participated in the trade as it gave them an advantage in their own inter-tribal conflicts? This is in no way an attempt to deny the complicity of Europeans in the trade, but it might help to remove the very unhelpful and sterile assumption that “black is beautiful, white is ugly,” (there is, after all, precious little Biblical justification for the concept of a “noble savage”) and rather, point us in the direction that not only in Christ is there “neither Jew nor Greek”, but equally we are all called to enlist, white and black together, in our struggle against an evil which knows no distinction between any races?

  9. Check out LifeSite (and Vinay Samuel, CEN) on the real nature of the organisation Black Lives Matter. What you will find is startling.

    Just like the Green Party, there’s a notable degree to which it sure ain’t what it says on the tin.

  10. It is precisely because black lives (like all lives) matter infinitely that one can be shocked at the disproportionality between the reaction to George Floyd’s death on the one hand – which is appropriate and proportionate- and the reactions to the oh-so-many East London deaths – which do not remotely give the dead their due. Do people care more about tribalism than about lives? Exactly why it is so counter productive to abandon a Christian worldview. Appreciation of the Fall, endemic sin, need for personal repentance- these are the prescription that’s needed.

  11. ‘Black lives matter’ as a slogan is obviously true, although it’s unsatisfactory and only half the story because all lives matter.

    However, the campaigning group ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a one issue, simple justice organisation as its name suggests. It is a trans-global, well funded (always follow the money!), Cultural Marxist organisation and has an agenda which ranges far beyond the kind of simple justice for ethnic groups which we’d all support. If only by its fruits – vandalism, violence, mob tactics, lawlessness, stirring up anger, bypassing the democratic process – it can be seen as a dangerously destabilising force socially, politically and economically.

    While we Christians should be firm in our rejection of exploitation and denigration of one ethnic group by another, I cannot say too strongly that Christians should avoid BLM like the plague that it is. But don’t take my word for it: spend 5 minutes on their website to find out for yourself.


    If time’s too short even for that, here are a few points which indicate the group’s overt rejection of Christian social teaching in respect of the family:

    “We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
    We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered…
    …We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
    We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).”

    • Don,
      how is
      ‘[w]e disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable’
      a rejection of ‘Christian social teaching in respect of the family’?

      And how do BLM’s ‘what-we-believe’ statements OTHER THAN the ones you cited (which simply point to its membership being inclusive) mean ‘Christians should avoid BLM like the plague that it is’?

      • Hi Bruce

        Christianity is not ‘inclusive’. Proclamation of the Christian gospel is of course inclusive but those who accept Jesus as their Lord repent (change direction) and serve a new master. Their lives then set off on a different trajectory from those who don’t accept Jesus – they are no longer in the same inclusive group. As his followers they will have a new perspective and embrace new values: they will want to live in a way which meets his design in terms of their biology on the one hand and his laws on the other. The former is written in the natural world (and it includes human psychology), the latter are laid out (specifically in places) and affirmed more generally in the whole of scripture.

        I think we’d all agree that the Bible doesn’t prescribe every last detail for every possible circumstance for how people should live, but an open minded and objective reading of the whole of scripture leaves no doubt about the male/female divide, the complementary, exclusive and faithful role of men and women in family life and the exclusion of any arrangement which challenges that principle. The fifth commandment ‘you shall honour your father and your mother’ speaks of the importance with which God views the structure and bonds of family life – and it goes to say how that has a socio-political role which gives stability down the generations.

        ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a Marxist organisation (Alicia Garza is a self proclaimed Marxist). Part of that agenda clearly requires the rewriting (or expunging) of history, as we are currently seeing here in the UK – a political objective. Events on the street and within our institutions indicate that it is quite happy to bypass democratic processes. Part of it is also specific in terms of breaking down the kind of family structure I’ve just talked about above – a socio-political objective (cultural Marxism) which is antithetical to any reasonable and consistently held understanding of Christian teaching.

        I’ve not said that every single objective of the organisation is wrong – respect and justice between ethnic groups has long been held to be a good thing.

        So why did I describe the organisation as a ‘plague’? It’s colourful language which is purposely intended to sound a warning that BLM brings with it big dangers to our society which a first glance at its name does not reveal. Among other things the word ‘plague’ means ‘an epidemic disease with a high death rate’ or ‘a large scale calamity’. The aims of BLM, if they came to fruition, would cause the death of our society. God’s design for human living is not a ‘once useful but now outdated’ option: it’s the only way people will flourish, live in harmony, contentment and security. We ditch it at our peril.

        History shows that societies can and do collapse, and that happens because the social framework is brought down rather than the failure of the economy. BLM speaks most directly to young people, hooks them in on the basis of genuine concern but then leads them deeper into the kind ideology I’ve been describing. Young people are already subject to the assumptions and programs of cultural Marxism, not least on the basis that any alternative viewpoint is ‘hateful’ and should be ‘no platformed’. That is a deadly disease of thought control and it promises to kill societies that allow it to thrive. And that’s why I called it a ‘plague’. Christian parents in particular will surely not want their children to be sucked into supporting an anti Christian ideology, and so they do need to have their attention drawn to the reality that is BLM.


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