Fighting the fires of racism

July 7th, 2015

The hashtag #ThisIsWORR is joining the list of hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches meant to encourage sober reflection and just action in solidarity with the black community in the United States. In response to a series of church burnings that followed the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, leaders of some black churches are declaring July 12-18 a Week of Righteous Resistance (WORR), prompting the hashtag #ThisIsWORR. A website has also been created as a gathering place for individuals and groups to learn about and post activities that relate to the effort.

Reading news of arson at black churches is heartbreaking on top of the murders at Emanuel…

…on top of all the sadness of the shooting and deaths of black civilians

…on top of the statistics that in 2009, black males comprised nearly half of the over 2.1 million inmates in jail or prison

…on top of the common day-to-day racism and discrimination that blacks are regularly told they are imagining or need to get over.

I have a simple encouragement for churches and church members: Engage. Now is not the time for passive reflection. Churches are burning and people are dying and the sin of racism lies at the root. Now is the time for leadership. Consider ways to act during the week of July 12th and beyond. Action can be as simple as connecting with black churches in your area and asking if your congregation or small group could come and pray prayers of protection around church grounds. Action might also look like joining with groups in black communities that are working long-term to overcome the systemic issues that threaten the thriving of those communities.

Finally, I’m happy for churches and Christian people to use the hashtags #ThisIsWORR, #BlackLivesMatter, and #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches. I’m also happy when they take time to consider why they are sometimes uncomfortable or resist doing so, but maybe there are other hashtags we could use. Perhaps now is the time for the whole church, in solidarity with its members who are people of color and those who represent other marginalized groups, to offer another hashtag to the world: #ChurchesCare.

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