Lamenting Our Original Sin

Racism has been called America’s original sin, and heartbreakingly, the church hasn’t just been affected by this sin - it’s been complicit. Read this prophetic word from former slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass:

What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.

We bear today the legacy of a Christianity corrupted into a religion of slaveholders, which can’t talk about biblical justice without declaring itself guilty. For some of us this has meant the ongoing pain and anger of being part of marginalized communities; for some of us this has meant constant confusion over how to follow God’s call to justice when we’ve been taught so thoroughly in words, deeds, and institutional forms over the years to neglect it.

Read over these words from Amos 5:7-9 and notice your feelings - anger, sadness, hope… Lament this legacy and how it’s affected you and people you love. Ask God to show you his heart for justice and to make your own heart more like God’s.

“There are those who turn justice into bitterness, and cast righteousness to the ground. He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land—the Lord is his name. With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin.”