A Swing and a Whiff on George Floyd’s Murder

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A rear view of people with placards and posters on global strike for climate change.

I never could hit a slider when I played baseball (fastballs and curves really weren’t my forte either). I was good at bunting though. Most of the time however, I failed to keep my eye on the ball and struck out. I was a swing and a whiff. 

With the pressing cultural issue of the day, many Christians are missing the bigger picture when it comes to what happened last week in Minneapolis. They are a swing and a whiff on George Floyd’s murder.

The incident itself where a white police officer pressed his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck until he died by asphyxiation is repulsive. Outrage followed, but as the intensity of the moment begins to dissipate ever so slightly, many are missing the point. 

To be clear, there are at least two primary issues upon which we should be focused: The continued police treatment of African American males across our country, and the inherent and systemic racism that propagates injustice and inequality for blacks and other minority peoples in our society. 

However, based on comments I see across social media platforms, I’ve noticed four rising topics in which some Evangelical Christians are whiffing, either intentionally or unintentionally. 

Critical Race Theory (CRT). It is the acme of ignorance to claim that those Christians calling for justice in George Floyd’s murder and for an end to racism have acquiesced to proponents of CRT, yet I’ve seen some Christians – and some of them pastors – who insinuate many are “selling out” to the liberals/progressives for doing just that.

Critical Race Theory is the liberal belief that race and sex, among other distinctions, have been constructed by oppressor groups in order to maintain power. Advocates of CRT say it should be used as an analytical tool to overcome that imbalance and weight one group over another to achieve equality. 

Categorically, CRT is unbiblical. The Bible clearly articulates that all people everywhere have the same worth because all people everywhere are created in the image of God, and as such, should be treated equally. God’s design doesn’t need human adjustment. Humans must adjust to God’s design. Throughout Scripture, God’s people are called to seek justice for the oppressed while also seeking unity through the cross of Christ. Failing to pursue both justice and unity is to have an imbalanced theology. Apparently, some see pursuing those equally complementary ends as “selling out.”

But seeking justice for minorities by working to alleviate racial strife does not make one a liberal. Those who level such claims at fellow believers reveal at least a modicum of ignorance.

“All lives matter, not just black ones.” Can we whites just stop making this statement? Please. It reveals a prejudice that smacks of racism. Of course all lives matter, but if you’ll notice, white lives are not being snuffed out under the knee of police brutality, or being gunned down in the streets while out for an afternoon jog. White people do not need to remind the world our lives matter because we dominate the culture and have for hundreds of years. According to historical research, approximately 4,743 African Americans were lynched during the “Lynching Century” from 1881 and 1968. You may say, “Well, that’s history; it’s behind us.” Is it? Events over just the past few months say otherwise.

Pro-life is more than anti-abortion. And while we are talking about life, we as white evangelicals have an exemplary track record over the past 40 years in fighting against abortion, but our actions, have to a large degree, narrowed the definition of pro-life to applying mostly to pre-birth life. We are not nearly as quick to apply that same passion in word or deed to issues related to race, immigrants/immigration, social justice and other dignity of life issues. In fact, our actions are increasingly defining us as only being anti-abortion, not pro-life. 

“Those people protesting.” It is interesting the number of whites who are quick to point out how the “bad cops” are the exception and that “not all cops are like that.” They exonerate the group by pointing to the few. However, when it comes to the protestors, I’ve heard a condescending “those people” directed at the collective group protesting. “Those people” comments disclose a prejudice. First, why doesn’t the same “exception” rule apply to the protestors as it does to the police? Secondly, it has been widely revealed that much of the violence has been instigated by white supremacy and anarchist groups seeking to escalate the tension yet people keep using, “those people” without distinction. Yes, there are some bad protestors of color out there, but not all protestors are like that. 

“Those people” protesting have gathered by the hundreds of thousands across our country in non-violent protest following the example of Martin Luther King Jr. They seek one thing: Change. It is the shame of our nation that nearly 60 years after Dr. King first initiated his non-violent campaigns to combat racism and to bring about positive change for all oppressed Americans, not just blacks, that we are still protesting the same issues. 

All of us should be some of “those people protesting” racism and prejudice, then maybe that will initiate the change that ends the need for protesting. 

I believe the biggest reason we don’t keep our eye on the ball is because we don’t want to. To focus on the inherent racism in our culture that leads to the murder of the many George Floyds would force us to confront the prejudice within ourselves. Change begins in the individual, but we chase societal sliders thrown our direction rather than connecting on core issues. Unfortunately, that is the case with many – not all – Christians right now. 

Until we do make the conscious effort to address the issues before us and in us, we’ll continue to take a swing and a whiff on issues like George Floyd’s murder, and liberty and justice will continue to be for some, but not for all. 

Other Entries related to the Racism/George Floyd Murder

My Encounter With a Black Teenage

America’s Front Row Seat to Murder

No Room For Racism in the Christian Heart

Confessions of a White Boy on MLK Jr. Day

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