It seems like American Christians have a problem separating their politics from their faith. One influences the other. It’s what happens when your politics become an identity. It’s going to influence other areas of your life.
And, when looking at a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey, that trend is obvious.
According to their findings, 72% of white evangelical Protestants believe the killings of African-American men by police are isolated incidents. It’s the same across the board for white Christians (73% for white mainline Christians, 71% for white Catholics).
What makes it interesting is when you take out the “Christian” part. 65% of white Americans believe police brutality against African-Americans is an isolated incident.
Now compare that with the views of black Americans on the issue. 81% of black Americans believe that recent police brutality against African-Americans isn’t isolated. 82% of black Protestants believe police brutality cases aren’t isolated.
So why the disconnect? For starters, you’re more likely to think your group is discriminated against than other groups you’re not a part of. The survey makes note of this.
But for those of us who are Christians, I think the issue goes deeper than discrimination bias.
We're letting our politics influence our faith, again.
Our faith should be influencing our politics, not the other way around. Like the Syrian Refugee crisis, Christians have again failed to move past politics.
Look at the disconnect between white and black Christians on the issue of police brutality and tell me it isn’t thanks to politics Who’s more likely to support “Blue Lives Matter”? White or black Americans? Who’s more likely to support “Black Lives Matter”? White or black Americans?
This isn't to say that white Christians aren’t on the right political side. This isn’t an issue of which side is right. It’s a matter of what is the appropriate and Biblical Christian response.
Christians should deal with injustice whenever they see it.
I particularly enjoy the scene of Jesus rebuking the Pharisees about their outside cleanliness. I think this paints a good image of many a Christian who denies the existence of injustice:
“Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” Luke 11:39-44
Both the Old and New Testaments talk about injustice. Deuteronomy 16:19-20 says you should never distort justice, nor be partial, and commands the Israelites to follow justice. Malachi 3:5 lists those who will be judged, including those who oppress the laborer, widow, orphan, and alien. Colossians 4:1 tells masters to give their slaves justice and fairness.
And let’s not forget what the Ten Commandments and the The Golden Rule say. I would argue they’re both standards of justice (in their own way).
We’re called by Christ to love our neighbors and our enemies. We’re called not to kill or rob.
Is the current case of police brutality against African-Americans just? Is it an example of a broader issue? Should we, as Christians be reprimanding these victims for their actions or clothing, no matter how foolish it might seem? Did those people deserve to die because of their choices? Is that even our call to make? Are we supposed to judge others, or are we supposed to be compassionate and loving?
It looks like those questions have been left out for political pandering and race baiting.
Our God is a just God (so follow his lead).
“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.” Psalm 140:12
“Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:7
“What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” Romans 9:14
If you brought up the issue of African-Americans killed by police to God, what would he say? Would he talk about how they should’ve obeyed the cops? Would he point out their clothing? Would he blame their parents?
I doubt it.
Do you think God would want you to come at the issue like that? Or would he want you to come at it with love and compassion? More importantly, are we, as Christians showing love and compassion? If the majority of white Christians believe these deaths aren’t indicative of a larger problem, maybe we aren’t.
Maybe we think we’re being just, when we’re actually judging through our own political colored glasses.
Too many times we let our political affiliation affect our faith. Too many times we let politics divide the faith. Rarely do we rest on love and compassion, as true Christians should. Rarely do we know what God’s justice looks like.