I wanted to wait to discuss the violent protests in Charlottesville because I was mostly unplugged over the weekend and wanted to have a better sense of what happened. There have been plenty of hot takes and I wanted to be more thoughtful. Here are four quick thoughts about the event:
1. The Alt-Right Movement and White Supremacy are antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’ve said this numerous times before and will continue to say it. We are all created equal in God’s sight. Every human being is an image-bearer of God. We must reject this movement. As a member of a Southern Baptist Church, I support the convention’s resolution passed this summer regarding the Alt-Right:
WHEREAS, Scripture teaches, “From one man [God] has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26); and
WHEREAS, The Psalmist proclaimed, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD” (Psalm 24:1); and
WHEREAS, The Apostle Peter said, “God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34-35); and
WHEREAS, Our justification before God is based on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not in our ethnicity (Galatians 3:27-28); and
WHEREAS, Scripture proclaims that Jesus is purchasing by His blood believers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9); and
WHEREAS, Throughout eternity we will gather with a “multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” in worship of our risen Savior (Revelation 7:9); and
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message conveys that all Christians are obligated to make the will of Christ supreme in their own lives and in human society, opposing all forms of racism, selfishness, and vice, and bringing government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly loves; and
WHEREAS, We know from our Southern Baptist history the effects of the horrific sins of racism and hatred; and
WHEREAS, In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention repudiated “historic acts of evil, such as slavery,” commited “to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry,” and “genuinely repent(ed) of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously”; and
WHEREAS, In recent years the Convention has nominated and elected individuals from a variety of ethnicities, including electing our first African-American president in 2012; and
WHEREAS, In recent resolutions the Southern Baptist Convention called on “all Christian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prejudice and injustice will be no more” (2014); expressed continued grief “over the prescence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nation” (2015); and urged fellow Christians to discontinue using the Confederate battle flag, acknowledging that it is “used by some and preceived by many as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism, offending millions of people” (2016); and
WHEREAS, More than 20 percent (nearly eleven thousand) of our cooperating Southern Baptist congregations identify as predominately non-Anglo and for the last three years more than 50 percent of Southern Baptists new church plants have been predominately non-Anglo; and
WHEREAS, B&H Academic recently published Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, highlighting our continuing need to root out vestiges of racism from our own hearts ans Southern Baptists; and
WHEREAS, Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as “white nationalism” or “alt-right”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13-14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby decived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of those hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
Christians, in particular, white evangelicals, should rebuke this group without reservation as members of the alt-right infer they represent us. They don’t.
We also need to recognize that we have not experienced the systematic racism that those in the Black community has experienced. We, by and large, don’t understand what it is like to live in fear because of our race. As Christians, we should seek to empathize, understand, and engage the black community in general and our black brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ in particular.
Unfortunately, much of the good work evangelicals have done toward racial reconciliation has been overlooked by the media and the left because of the overwhelming support evangelicals gave President Donald Trump.
2. President Donald Trump’s statement was woefully inadequate.
His initial statement made no mention of the Alt-Right or White Supremacists. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America,” Trump said.
This type of statement is not new; President Trump has repeatedly refused to call out this group by name over the better part of a year. President Trump’s statement is disappointing, but it should not be surprising.
While there was violent behavior both from the alt-right and Antifa, it is the Alt-Right that claims to be on Trump’s team making it extremely important for him to rebuke the movement by name.
3. The car attack in Charlottesville is terrorism.
James Alex Fields, Jr.’s deliberate act of driving his vehicle into Antifa counter-protestors was an act of terrorism – period. It was evil – period. We can not and should not equivocate on this.
4. Do not ignore Antifa’s role in racial tension and violence.
The media’s attention has been primarily on the Alt-Right which has grown more vocal since 2016 (though how much it has grown in numbers is debatable). Unfortunately, the media has given the violence of Antifa a pass. In Charlottesville Alt-Right thugs and Antifa thugs met and both sides were violent. The terrorism by a member of the Alt-Right does not excuse this.
The fact Antifa was engaged in violent activity was documented by a New York Times reporter.
So while the Alt-Right movement needs to be rebuked and condemned so does the Antifa movement, and those in the Black Lives Matter movement who engage in riots, threats, and actual violence.
While it is important for President Trump to rebuke the Alt-Right, it is important for the left to rebuke Antifa and Black Lives Matter as these groups claim to be on the same team. I see many Christians and conservatives condemn the Alt-Right, I don’t see the same conviction from the left to condemn Antifa, and that is unfortunate.
Conservatives can criticize and condemn Antifa all that we like but it will never have the same effect as those on the left doing it.
Those of us on the right can not point to Antifa as an excuse to ignore racism and violence perpetrated by the alt-right. And neither should the left ignore Antifa because of what they see coming from the Alt-Right.
The current racial tension in our country won’t subside if only one side is being policed.