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WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY STAND ON RACIAL PREJUDICEAND SECURITY REVENGE?

Posted by Lusaka Zambia on 10/15/2010 3:49:27 PM | Views: 189 |

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Written by: Lusaka Zambia


WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY STAND ON RACIAL PREJUDICEAND SECURITY REVENGE?


 


Race is explosive subject’! Almost any group of people can get involves in an animated debate on race - principles, prejudice, denunciation and passionate concern flying in all directions. When it was suggested in the newspaper that we must accept that ours is now a society permanently characterised by a multiplicity of creeds, racial origins and ethnic identities, there were some bitter reactions in reply. One correspondent asked if the writer had any ideal of the hate and tension building up among many white people in the West. On the other side, a publication such as Race Today gives expression to the anger and bitterness of many in the so call Black community. I am yet to meet a black and white person except the fact that those who invented this idea are colour blind.


        Race and colour are not just problem for one country but all nations. They are issues of world-wide significance. Through our newspapers and on our television screens we see evidence of racial conflict, we know of the evils that result from apartheid in South Africa. Take for instance the scene in America: When John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected the president in 1960 many conservative white folk of Anglo-Saxon background refused to accept him as their president. To them Kennedy was Irish and, as such, a subhuman being and that were all there was to it. They did not accept his presidency until he died. The same phenomenon is going on with Obama. To certain white folk he is not human enough and they would never accept him as their president. Even if he stands on his head and does the right thing they would not accept him as a human being. In Russia persons of dark complexion, even those from the Caucasus, such as Turks, are routinely killed by Russian youths. African students in Russia dare not show their faces in the public at night, certainly not in certain parts of Russia or they are beaten up or even killed.


  Somehow it bothers me that many Africans only talk about their internal politics and refuse to concern themselves with larger issues that could affect them. These days Africans goes to the Europe or USA and pretend that everything is okay. In the early 1900s when the French man Simon Binnet invented his IQ testing it was found that Slavic Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians, Serbs, Croats etc) scored lower than Western Europeans by exactly fifteen points (Western Europeans, that is, Frenchmen, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Scandinavians etc share similar Western culture with Americans). The US Congress passed legislation banning Slavs from coming to America for they were deemed an inferior race! (At present Africans tend to score by exactly fifteen points below white folk in IQ tests, but their children born the US who are acculturated to white America tend to do as well as white children. That is to say that the so-called IQ difference is cultural rather than genetic. People, black and white, are ninety nine point nine the same.) 


      Asians were banned from obtaining American citizenship in 1898.  It was later when it was discovered that when Slavs stayed in the USA long enough to be acculturated that their children tend to do as well as Anglo Saxons that Congress reversed the banning.


       Most Africans actually do not know that it was only in the 1960s that Congress finally allowed non-Western Europeans to become US citizens!  It was only in 1969 that the Supreme Court ruled against so-called miscegenation laws (laws banning interracial marriages ….thus, the birthers claim that the marriage between an African man, Obama sr, and a white woman was illegal hence his son, Barack, is not really a legal American) There are whites who are so convinced that black folk are unintelligent that they are in shock that Americans voted for a black man as their president. They cannot accept that an inferior African and his slave wife are in their white house, sleeping on the bed that their leaders slept on! To them this is desecration. It gives them the apoplexy.


         A whole lot of crazy things have happened in this globe and could happen again; that we do not as yet, live in a colour-blind society! Or live in the nonsense which some call a post-racial society. Racists are alive and well, and sadly, in huge numbers! Here is a great world question about which Christian need to do some pretty fast and through thinking. What is required of us by the Gospel?


 


Bible teaching


First, we need to understand correctly the teaching scriptures and not be misled by those who wrest its teachings to justify attitudes of racial superiority or policies of separate development. For instance, the curse of Noah Genesis 9:29 has been used by certain theologian to justify the perpetual subjection of black to white, where as its application is clearly to the Canaanites who were of the same Semitic stock as the Hebrews. And some white people (who would be the first to pride in the expansion of our stock and culture across the world) use St Paul’s words at Athens (Acts 17:26) to justify keeping coloured people in their own countries and out of ours, whereas the whole drift of St Paul’s sermon is ‘the complete antithesis of an exclusive, nationalistic, racist spirit’.


    When we look at the Bible, teaching us a whole, we see that it is set in a universal context. All men, it proclaims, are made in the image of God. All are sinners. Christ died for all men. Christians of all races are one in Christ. It is a known fact, that many Old Testament passages do suggest a narrow Jewish particularize vis-à-vis neighbouring peoples, but the story does not end there. As we follow its sweep we see that the prophets repeatedly condemned a nationalism that forget justice and mercy to the poor and the stranger within the gates and called God’s people to be a light to the nations, that his salvation may reach to the end of the earth (Isaiah 49:6). The New Testament rejoices in the breaking down by Christ of the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile and it closes with St John the seer’s splendid vision of the City of God, by whose light the nations shall walk and into which their glory and splendour shall be brought (Revelation 21:24-26)


This question is also asked about Africa because it is the poorest continent on earth. It is a continent where for 30 years there has not been any concrete economic development compared to the rest of the world. It lags behind all the other continents in terms of economic and social development. Most if not all the countries African continent have similar economic problems namely high unemployment, high inflation, higher deficits, poor state of economic and social infrastructures including roads, harbours, education, airports, telecommunication, health and sanitation and rail system. Africa is a continent where people die for lack of food, water, and against common preventable diseases. It is a continent full of misery, desperation and hopelessness. It is a continent where very few children under the age of five survive the menace of the six killer diseases. It is a continent where people have no access to basic necessities of life. It is a continent where people walk several miles for water and children have no access to education and medical services. It is a continent where rural life is nothing but a condemnation to abject poverty. It is a place where people live in mud/thatched houses with bamboo/raffia leaves as roofing sheets. It is a continent full of wars and armed conflicts. It is a continent of dictators and kleptocrats, a continent where corruption is rewarded and achievement is shunned, a continent where entry into public life/service is seen as a means to acquiring wealth and a means of getting top positions. It is a continent where life expectancy is low and corruption very high.

So is it a colour or race thing? I must say that I do not agree or subscribe to the notion that poverty has any colour inferring in it and that the underdevelopment and impoverishment which is prevalent on the African continent is deeply rooted in centuries of slavery and colonialism, coups, armed conflicts, brain drain, endemic corruption and mismanagement, dictatorial rule, Kleptocracy, foreign interventions and the fight for control of the natural resources.


 


History


As John Stott (2006:270) rightly says it is not possible to jump straight to contemporary examples of racism in Europe and America, and ignore the evils of slavery and the slave trade out of which it has largely sprung. It has been said that no sensitive American can confront issues arising from ethnicity in the US today without looking back beyond the civil war to the cruelty and degradation of life on the plantations


It is generally accepted that “the slave has three defining characteristics: his person is the property of another man, his will is subject to the owner’s authority and his labour or services are obtained through coercion (David Brion 1966:31) Being regarded as nothing but property, slaves were normally deprived of elementary human rights: e.g., the right to marry or to own or bequeath possessions or to witness in a court of law. Although slavery of different kinds and degrees was universal in the ancient world, it is inexcusable that the professedly Christian nations of Europe (Spain and Portugal, Holland. France and Britain) should have used this inhuman practice to meet the labour needs of the New World colonies. Worse still, practising Christians developed an elaborate but false defence of slavery on several grounds.


Ø  Social and economic necessity, since there was no other source of labour in the colonies to provide raw material for the Industrial Revolution in Europe.


Ø  Ethnicity superiority, since Negros deserved no better treatment.


Ø  Biblical permission, since scripture regulates but not condemns slavery.


Ø  Humanitarian benefits, since the trade transferred slaves from African savagery to American civilization.


Ø  Missionary opportunity, since African “infidels” would be introduced to Christianity in the New World.


Ø  The blatant rationalization of slave-owners makes one blush with embarrassment today.


            


Now looking back at history over the last 200 years. Colonial masters have emigrated in their thousands to new land (after fighting the original inhabitants). Before Wilberforce, westerner was deeply involved in the slave trade from Africa to North America, and the Caribbean.


    Throughout the remainder of the 19 century she painted large parts of the map of the world red. The Empire supplied colonial imperialist with cheap raw materials for manufacture and the finished product were then exported to the world at great profit. Colonial masters showed that wealth and power were to be found in Britain. For so many years even the church fostered the idea of making Britain the motherland of the people they colonised. This is almost a forgotten issue now in some parts of Africa because of advent of Africa Independent Churches (AIC).


Furthermore, in the period of shortage of labour after the war, Britain actively encourage people from those countries they colonised to come into their country to do the less desirable jobs (even going so far as to set up recruiting centres in some places). Britain actually invited people to come and many are doing jobs that other people will not do. For instance, transportation and health services in Britain would have collapse without the help of the Commonwealth immigrants.


What about the East African Asians? Well, when Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania became independent, Britain gave those people opportunity of retaining British nationality if they did not wish to apply for citizenship in the new nations. Britain is in honour bound to accept those expelled from East Africa who hold British passport and have nowhere to go. 


    On any realistic understanding of this situation then, we must accept that from now on, there will be a colour mixture population of some two million or so within the fifty million inhabitant of Great Britain and this should be same pattern  in any of the viable develop or developing democratic Government in the world.


    What should our attitude be to each other? In the light of the basic teaching in the Bible; we can have no doubt about the answer. We cannot treat as second-class citizens those who, whatever their colour, share the humanity which the Son of God took upon him in the Incarnation and which he has redeemed by dying for us.


 


Christian responsibility


In consequences, Christian citizens in this nation and in the other countries of the world have great responsibilities laid upon them. First, we must get to know the facts about legislation and other official action designed both to restrict immigration and to ensure justice to all. We should learn too about the various and conflicting pressures of public opinion which lie behind these action. We need to know also the truth in contrast to the parrots cries about immigrants coming to live off Britain social security system and the calls that they should be encouraged, if not pressurised, to return home. Also the issue of African for African the case for Zimbabwe with farmers and the dictatorship Government was a sure one. For example it is a fact that many have no homes outside Zimbabwe which many of the younger generation have been born and brought up here and know no other country. We must be ready to speak up and be counted when the so called enlightened communities which pride themselves on having no race problem, show themselves acutely racist. That may well require of us individually some self examination first!


    Then we have positive responsibilities towards new Africa, new Briton etc. We should behave towards them with the same courtesy and good neighbourliness that we show people of our own race. We should take time and trouble to build bridges of understanding. We could visit a Roman Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches or invite their priests to our homes. We should keep watch on policies in our area in regards to Job opportunities, housing, education etc and be ready to writer to local Government, supporting a local community project etc. In these days of pressure groups, Christians in city or town should stand together and when necessary challenge their senators, member of house of parliament or the local chancellors when injustice occur.


    What part should the church at the national or local level for playing? It should be a shining example of a Christian fellowship which rises about the restricted outlook of a particular section of society (most often top class and middle-class). In Christ name, it should work for a nation in which all receive just and equal treatment and all can bring their particular contribution to the enrichment of the whole community. For instance, are we ready to make buildings available for Christians whose forms of worship may suggest ‘pentecostal pandemonium’ rather than our own more sedate and traditional ways? Are we prepared to allow our premises to be used for the social gathering of people of other faiths - and in so far as conscience is allows, for religious purposes? Would we consider selling a redundant church building to such a group? Or are we just a replica of society an “in” group, protecting our special privileges, our property and position, against threats from those outside?


    What about evangelism. Is that not our first and major responsibility? Perhaps we have something to learn here from General Booth. As he viewed the vast areas of poverty of Britain great cities with their disinherited and un-churched masses, he set out his order in the slogan - soup, soap and salvation. It is only as our congregation are seen to be servants of the community, ready to minister to the local situation in any way they can, that the message they proclaim has any possibility of being heard. Only if, like our Master, we are ready not to be ministered to but to minister and to identify at whatever cost with those who too often get a raw deal in our society, shall we commend the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and open the way to response


 


Further reading


Ethnic Minorities in society: a reference guide (British Council of churches)


World Religion in Britain: three study pamphlets, Mariyan Mahmoud-Harris (BCC)


The New Black Presence: A Christian Scrutiny (BCC)


Race Relations: study notes on the Bible, David Bronnert (Falcon)

    Further information on this subject is obtainable from the community and race Religions Unity of the British council of churches (to Eaton Gate, London, SW 1W 9BT) and from the Evangelical Race Relations Group (269Rotton Park Road, Birmingham, B16 ORD)


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