No Passive Reconciliation, Please

Monday, 6 February 2017, 20:55 | Category : Reconciliation Reflections
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Reverend J. Frederika Eaddy has written a bold and timely message to those who have the responsibility of preaching God’s Word. Sometimes out of the desire to get to the “Good News” we may fail to provide the emotional space  and practical application people need as they wrestle with their realities.  Preaching reconciliation is incomplete without acknowledging the necessity of  transformative actions.   As I read Rev. J’s words, I was convicted and challenged to exercise extraordinary care to meet people where they  are with the assurance that God’s love and grace will empower them on their journey for justice in their lives.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

No Passive Reconciliation, Please

Rev. J. Frederika Eaddy

Over the last several months, I have listened to and watched many sermons. Many of those sermons have reminded me of my responsibility, as a Christian, to forgive. They have called me to declare victory; to remember that God is still on the throne; to rise above the hateful rhetoric; and, to place at the forefront my duty toward reconciliation.

With each news report about this administration’s harmful antics, the message is preached that much harder. And I’ve discovered that instead of bringing hope to its listeners, it reinforces a passive faith ideology. It tells you that whatever the situation, no matter how harmful or toxic, you should remain in it for this is God’s will and God will eventually rescue you. Not only should you remain in the harmful, toxic situation, you shouldn’t question why you are there because that demonstrates a lack of faith. And above all things, you should not make any attempt to remove yourself, because God must be trying to teach you something. You sir, you ma’am must be the bigger person.

This tactic is not a new one. We’ve seen it with the women and men who are told to return to and reconcile with their abusive spouses before the spouse has done any work to address their behavior. You saw it when the families of those killed by self-defined white supremacist, Dylan Roof, believe that the Christian thing to do is immediate forgiveness. You see it everyday someone is told to remain in a place where someone in authority has violated them as an example of their Christian witness. This type of reconciliation absolves you of any responsibility to initiate change and teaches you how to keep the peace rather than showing you how to be a peacemaker. After all, we aren’t called to keep the peace, which really means maintaining the status quo. We were called to be peacemakers, which requires uprooting injustice and creating an atmosphere where justice equity, mercy and love thrive.

And quite frankly, I am sick of it. So, let’s set the record straight. Calling victims to reconcile for the sake of reaching some political accommodation without addressing critical questions of injustice is not reconciliation at all. Reconciliation calls for an outing (or naming) of the injustice and then works to remove it at its root. Reconciliation requires the permanent laying down of power and privilege in order to restore (or establish) right and just relationships. Reconciliation calls for us to push back against the oversimplification of the demand for Christian love and forgiveness; a sort of “can’t we all just get along” rhetoric. Curtis Paul DeYoung reminds us, “Reconciliation is not appeasement, assimilation, a passive peace, a unity without cost, or maintaining power with only domestic changes”.

So preachers, don’t call me to reconciliation if you are also calling me to remain comfortable in my oppression. Don’t call me to reconciliation if you refuse to speak about the unjust systems under which we live. Don’t call me to reconciliation without also calling me to resist the empire and its ideologies of domination. Do not call me to reconciliation if you cannot acknowledge that Jesus came to set the oppressed free. Because if you do, it is clear that you are not calling for reconciliation, you are calling me to maintain the status quo. And it’s rather oxymoronic, isn’t it, to preach to me about a liberating Christ without encouraging me to really be free?

But this is not surprising, in the least. For religion has often been used to support the socio-economic status quo by teaching people how to adapt to the system, rather than empowering them to change it. Religion, at times, can be as oppressive as the systems it claims to be called to correct. So Reverend sir, Reverend ma’am, you can keep your sermons. I’d rather pray with my feet and show my faith in these streets. But when you are ready to talk about uprooting injustice and resistance as a part of reconciliation, let me know. I would love to join you in conversation.

Rev. J.Frederika Eaddy is the founder of I Just Believe Ministries and the author of Getting Naked to Get Free.

A Child Will Lead Them…

By Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

I thought you might like this story from The Washington Post.

Ten-year-olds tackle ‘The Lie’ of demeaning stereotypes in powerful video
Elementary schoolchildren aim to counter the “lies” they hear about Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, girls: “I’m not a thief.” “I’m not a terrorist.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/ten-year-olds-tackle-the-lie-of-demeaning-stereotypes-in-powerful-video/2016/12/02/69b7e162-b02a-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html

 

10-Year-Olds Tackle the Lies of Demeaning Stereotypes

Turbans, Religious Diversity and the Promise of America

Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 22:40 | Category : Cultural Diversity, Religious Tolerance
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Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, who serves as vice president for Grace and Race Ministries, Inc., represented the ministry at a press conference on Jan. 26, 2015 at the National Press Club for the launch of a public awareness campaign about Sikhism. Sikhs have lived in America for hundreds of years but a majority of Americans do not know anything about adherents of the faith. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th many Sikhs have experienced increased incidents of violence, bullying and discrimination because of what they wear and others’ ignorance about what they believe.

Grace and Race Ministries supports the Sikh community and their efforts to educate Americans about their faith. Increasing awareness and understanding of Sikhs can only strengthen America and lead us toward full reconciliation and healing from a checkered past of bigotry and prejudice.

Below are Dr. Copeland-Tune’s remarks from the launch of the National Sikh Campaign.

 

Leslie speaking

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this important event. I am honored to be here with you today representing Grace and Race Ministries, which has as its mission to help foster racial understanding, healing and reconciliation.

It was just before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 when the world as we knew it changed. We could not have envisioned such devastation on American soil. We could not have fathomed such hatred wielded against innocent people. But, sadly, the hatred that drove planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NY did not stop there. It spilled over to Mesa, Arizona so that four days later the life of another innocent person was taken, that of Balbir Singh Sodhi.  He was not killed because of anything that he had done. He was not killed because of anything he said. He was not killed because of his job or because he was serving his country. He was not even killed because of his religious beliefs. He was murdered because of mistaken identity. Because someone simply looked at him and decided his life was collateral damage in a war—not against terrorism—but against those who look different and have different beliefs. Can you imagine living with that kind of daily threat to your life and that of your family? Can you imagine your life hanging in the balance based on someone else’s perception of who you are and what you represent?

 Yes, 9/11 was a tragedy of epic proportions. But 9/15 was also a tragedy and one that tears at the very fabric of American society and values. We are here today because the remnants of that tragedy continue as Sikhs are discriminated against and mistreated because of how they look and what others think they believe. (more…)

Think on These Things

When we are confronted with life’s most difficult situations, it is often easy to go to a default reaction. But, life is complicated and the most serious situations require more from us as Christians. They require us to go much deeper and to tap into the well of living water. With the issue of race once again rising to the forefront of our consciousness, I urge us to challenge our own thinking and responses even as we strive to reflect the mind of Christ.

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true,whatever is honorable,whatever is just,whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing,whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and sen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

This poignant reflection by Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune provides transformative insights. Think on these things: Every Life

Grace and Race?

Tuesday, 2 December 2014, 0:02 | Category : Grace, Racial Justice, Reconciliation Reflections
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By Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Founder & President

When I adopted “grace and race” as the words to help define my personal ministry, I believed that through the faith in the unmerited favor of God, we as believers in Christ can work through everything that confronts us in life.

The notion that providing safe, informative spaces to explore our deepest concern and fears about race, especially in the context of Black America, felt like a calling.

But from the troubling, tragic death of Trayvon Martin until the issuing of the Grand Jury decision not to indict in the death of Michael Brown, during these distressing months and weeks I have been choking on my own retreat into silence.

Silent because the question that continues to haunt me is “Is grace enough?” The words linked by the conjunction “and” are now heard as an oxymoronic statement. Silent because though these words share the same letters of the alphabet, in our current climate many will ask, what is the role of grace in these circumstances. Silent because I don’t have answers to the questions, “What message do these tragedies send to the boys of color across our nation?” “What good can possibly come out of the continued, loss of the lives of young African American men?

And yet, even without answers, I still trust in the power of God to help us move beyond these painful moments. I trust God to use the pain of today as building blocks for justice as the pain leads to constructive community engagement in the quest for justice. Through grace we can honor the wishes of the father of Michael Brown and supported by President Obama:

“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

I pray for grace. Grace is a gift from God. Through grace we will put our faith into action. Through God’s grace we find the strength to move mountains of pain and despair. Through grace, we will work for peace in the midst of injustice.

Grace matters.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)