America is experiencing the most perilous of times in recent history as the result of its president, Donald Trump. Even though Monday morning he stepped forward to speak against the weekend's hate crimes, it lacks resonance because of the hate that has been reverberating since his stance against the Central Park Five, his ascendance in the GOP with the birther inquisition of Barack Obama, and not immediately condemning the chants of "send her back" aimed at four congressional women of Congress for doing their job.
It remains jarring how he and the leadership of the GOP lack human decency by caging children at the border and proclaiming that Baltimore is a predominately African-American city where no humans should live. These hateful words are intentional verbal terrorism to inflame his base and continue to label some human beings as unworthy of being in the same race as white Americans. What is equally puzzling is the silence of the white evangelical church in which 81% support and believe that he has been called by God.
These blatant domestic terrorist attacks, being exercised by white supremacists best known as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis, are embedded deeply it how they understand God, practice Christianity and see humanity. And, yet, there are other social justice faith leaders who are grappling with this torture and how to convey the message of God, resulting in a divided gospel.
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In the New Testament gospel of Mark 12:28-33, a scholar and scribe, out of curiosity, questioned Jesus, 'which out of all the commandments is the most important?' Jesus responds with two statements. The first is how you are to love the "Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength." The second one is to" love your neighbor like you love yourself'. The implication is very powerful because what it means is to be authentically a follower of Jesus, means I have to know how to love me before I can love you.
The civil rights movement wasn't driven by policy experts. It was accomplished by people who actually practiced their faith in love. They galvanized together to enact laws because there were racist white Americans who lacked civility. The laws had to be created to protect those whom they dehumanized with Jim Crown, the violence of rape and torture of death.
The preaching of "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also," is no longer applicable in these times. There's no longer the tolerance to mount a non-violence movement or foot soldiers in protest when the evidence is clear that this venom embodied in these white-skin individuals is filled with intentional rage, injustice and violence against everyone not a pure American of Anglo-Saxon decent. Yes, there are a few blacks getting passes, but I learned early in life that there was no difference between house slaves and those in the field. The white supremacist groups categorically deem them all as subhuman.
How do, I, as a social justice intellectual and faith leader provide guidance that teaches how to love those who persecute you, speak all manner of evil against you? How do I lean in to find similarity with those who say they believe in the same Jesus that many non-White Americans serve? If this gospel can't unite us, especially in times like this, then what can?
Anger and love have no limits, especially when seeded in fear and one's misappropriated religion. It is unfortunate the anger is misappropriated. It should be directed toward the white men, like Donald Trump, who are more focused on their own wealth than strengthening and providing economic opportunities for these white Americans.
The defining moments to overcome hate will be from what is written with love in our hearts. Maybe we can organize a healing, peace and love march with Barack and Michelle Obama standing alongside George W. and Laura Bush? Though they had many differences, they served the United States of America, honoring a commitment of justice, equality and love for all.
Dr. Keith Magee is a public intellectual with a focus on social justice and theology. He is senior fellow in culture and justice at the University College London and lead pastor at The Berachah Church, Dorchester Centre, Massachusetts. He is also a 1986 graduate of Colonel White High School in Dayton, Ohio. For more information visit www.4justicesake.org or follow him on social media @keithlmagee.