In the throes of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said this:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Too many white Christians in that time did not stand and be counted when it mattered. They may have been friends in faith, but they decided to remain silent while their black brother or sister in Christ was beaten, attacked with dogs, and water-hosed to the ground—simply because they asked for the same rights as white people.
Let’s be very clear: It is impossible to believe the Gospel is true, the Bible is true, the Judeo-Christian narrative is true, orthodox theology is true and believe at the same time, any racist, white supremacy, or Alt-Right ideology. It is impossible. If one does so, he is thoroughly ignorant of one or the other. They are mutually exclusive. They are oil and water, fire and ice. Many in these groups claim to be Christians–they are confused, as is evident from their logic challenged spouting of hate in Charlottesville.
One man murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville (See here). But it was the words and influence of many that helped him along, that gave him the justification and perhaps the nerve to actually commit the act. Yes, he alone is responsible but doesn’t some responsibility lie elsewhere?
What about the hate these groups vomit out day after day on their websites, writings, and in their meetings and demonstrations? What about the tacit approval for the Alt-Right ideology from the very top, the President of the United States? After all, Steven Bannon is a proud member of the Alt-Right and behind most of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka are also tied to the Alt-Right (See here). Trump has surrounded himself with these people.
Yes, one man killed Heather Heyer; one man is responsible, but doesn’t some responsibility lie elsewhere? What about those who should have spoken up? What about those who were silent along this man’s path, along this man’s journey long before he opened that car door?
Many young Christians have asked the question, “If I had been alive or an adult during the Civil Rights Movement, what would I have done?” Well, let me ask you: What are you doing right now? Because we are in another moment similar to that one. What will we do then?
Here’s the thing, there is something I find more bothersome and troubling than I do the hate spewing from the Alt-Right and these other racist groups. I find the silence, in the face of it, on the part of Christians, especially conservative Republican Christians who voted for Trump, to be more troubling than the loud voices we heard coming from the people who gathered in Charlottesville to spread hate. The silence is deafening. It will be remembered.