Tag Archives: United States

Thoughts On The George Floyd Memorial and Racism.

I’m writing this not as an expert nor as one who has been fully formed.  I am what is called in the new term, an anti-racist.  This does not mean that I have it all figured out or that I am not growing in my awareness of my own complicity in this racism that plagues our country.  I am writing what I understand at the moment.

The murder of George Floyd was a catalyst igniting a community in it’s call for an end to police brutality and reform in the way our nation polices it’s communities.  The militarization of our law enforment has had a great effect on our African American community who have born the brunt of the trauma.

Black Lives Matter

My neice Linnea (pictured above), has been an active participant in the many protests taking place in Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota. (Outside of the Clergy march–we were caring for her baby and did not march with her.)  Although cloaked in “Minnesota Nice,” our state is known for being one of the places most plagued with racism.  We have witnessed the murder of not only George Floyd but Philandro Castile.  And there were others who were not filmed.  We are also known for redlining which created neighborhoods for white families segregating Minnesota communities and denying home loans to eligible Black families.  We have a great deal of work to do in our cities and our state–not to mention our nation.

During the protests while the news media covered the riots, (there were some), they failed to cover the ways the Minneapolis community came together to form neighborhood watch groups who protected their own communities.  Churches and other groups formed pop-up food shelves and collected diapers and other necessary items to help the community.

I have watched my neice become aware of the many issues around race in our country.  She has taken bold stands and participated in the neighborhood activities at the George Floyd Memorial site.  Contrary to how this site is depicted in the news, the memorial site has become a place of healing and community.

I asked Linnea what this site has meant to people.  What struck me as I listened to her story was how this memorial brought people together to grieve and process trauma around police violence.  Posted around the George Floyd memorial are notes and letters telling the stories of loss.  Nearly every family has, in some way, been touched by police violence.  There are mothers who lost sons, siblings who lost brothers, uncles and parents due solely to police violence.  Others shared stories about how they too have experienced unjust policing.  The memorial site is a healing place where people are free to share their stories and heal their trauma.

Also at the memorial site many came to join in the grief and learn about their own complicity in racism.  As white people, we can say, “this is too much,” and turn off the news or walk away.  But those facing police violence and injustice every day cannot just walk away.  Families come with strollers and children, learning, listening.  Present often are speakers, leaders who are aware of the history and dynamics of racism.  There is much to learn.

Some thoughts: I wonder if the redlining segregation has created a situation within which in our little white enclaves, we can ignore what is happening because we are not in proximity as neighbors.  The white flight had long range impacts on schools and policing.  Had we stayed and had we integrated, had we become better neighbors, would we be in this situation today?

When Jesus called us to love our neighbors, he called us to live as he did.  Jesus put on human skin and moved into the neighborhood as Eugene Peterson translated John 1:14  He didn’t separate himself from others, he joined the human race.  In this, Jesus spoke truth to power, spoke up for the ones experiencing injustice and ultimately paid with his life.

And I just have to say, that I am so proud of my neice.  The protests have been very effective and she has changed my mind on the value of protest.  The protestors were effective in getting the officers involved charged, effective in starting the conversation of what is known as “defunding the police” which is really about better ways to resolve various community problems through getting the right people involved.  The people involved in the protest have formulated good and creative solutions for the betterment of their community.  I have hope that this movement is bringing good things in the future.

 

Thanks to Carrie Totushek for the photo of Linnea and to Curtis Paul DeYoung for the picture from the Memorial site.

Trump Promotes Pentecostal Doctor Who Warns for Alien DNA, Demon Sex and Reptilian Politicians

Now, there’s a headline you don’t get to write every single day. Nor do you often get to see this trending on Twitter:

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2020 continues to deliver when it comes to weirdness. So does President Donald Trump.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. Donald Trump’s son, aptly named Donald Trump Jr., recently labeled a video with Houston doctor Stella Immanuel a “must watch” since she promotes the drug hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks are unnecessary.

These opinions are in line with things that President Trump has said, even though most other physicians disagree. The president retweeted the video, apparently thinking that this would give medical credence to his corona policies. Madonna has also shared the video, calling Stella Immanuel her “hero”. Continue reading Trump Promotes Pentecostal Doctor Who Warns for Alien DNA, Demon Sex and Reptilian Politicians

Why Not Say “Justice” Instead of “Social Justice”?

Whenever I mention the term “social justice”, many American Christians freak out. They desperately do not want me or anyone else to use that word, as if it had the power to summon a dark lord or something.

Even when they agree with me that the content of what “social justice” typically signifies (economic equality, no oppression, no racism, etc.) is important, they don’t want me to call it social justice. If I should call it anything, it should be just “justice”. Period.

It goes to show how focused our social media culture is on the words we use, rather than the lives we live.

The reason for this censorship is that, apparently, “social justice is socialism in disguise”, “when you put ‘social’ in front of justice, you have an agenda”, “social justice has been hijacked by leftists”, and so on and so forth.

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These claims are always stated without any form of reference or source. Because they are not true.

Evangelical leaders like Billy Graham, John Stott and John Wimber all used the term social justice and deemed it to be central to Christian living. The Lausanne Movement, that helps thousands of evangelicals coordinate for global mission, has tonnes of resources regarding social justice. Continue reading Why Not Say “Justice” Instead of “Social Justice”?

God’s Love Doesn’t Stop at the Border

Our friend Shane Claiborne recently remarked on Twitter:

I can’t imagine Jesus waving an American flag any more than I can imagine him wearing a “God bless Rome” shirt.

Patriotism is too small.

Our Bible doesn’t say “For God so loved America”… it says “For God so loved the world.”

America First is a theological heresy.

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Nope. Doesn’t look right to me either.

Claiborne continued:

Mother Teresa used to say that “the circle we put around our family is too small.”

We limit who we love to biology or nationality.

That’s the problem with patriotism – it’s too small. We are to love as big as God loves.

And God’s love doesn’t stop at the border.

Cover photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

by Craig S. Keener, originally published on his blog.

One of my recent posts showed the local protest march in which my wife and I participated, and which our teenage daughter helped organize. One honest question has come up so often in response that I want to address it here.

Would Jesus have attended such a march, some have asked? Marching in parades aside, some feel that marching for racial justice, for the unborn or for other specific causes that suggest protest are inconsistent with proper Christian meekness. (I am assuming that those asking the question are also pacifists, since violence, and especially lethal violence, seems much less meek than nonviolent protests.) So, in consultation with my daughter Keren, I offer the following considerations.

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The Keener family

Why march?

First, it may be helpful to note the purpose of marching. Marching commands public attention in the way that individual voices often cannot. It also provides solidarity for the hurting and fearful. It lets them know that they are not alone; for the sake of the unity of the church that has too long been divided by race, now is an opportunity for non-black Christians to stand with our African-American brothers and sisters. Continue reading Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

Six Ways Christians Should Respond to the #BlackLivesMatter Protests

Agu Irukwu, senior pastor of the Jesus House and the Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England, recently shared on Premier Christianity the six kinds of responses he would like to see from Christians in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the protests that are going on:

1. Empathize

“I understand how frustrations can boil over as a result of an incident like this.”

2. Pray

“As a Christian, it is one of the most effective things I can do.”

3. Share a message of love and forgiveness

“This does not in any way trivialise the very real pain, hurt and frustrations that are being experienced by many African Americans who suffer the impact of an ingrained racial bias in the system.”

4. Speak out

“Evil and injustice thrives when good people do not speak out.”

5. Name and address institutional racism in your country

“We have inherent inequalities in our own systems. The institutional racism that exists must be named and addressed.”

6. Build on the work already being done

“I am resolved that I will do all that I can in my various capacities to encourage more representation of black and ethnic minorities in our institutions.”

Read more at the website of Premier Christianity.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

The US is on fire right now. Yet another black man has been killed by police brutality: George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after a policeman sat on his neck, charging him with paying with a false 20 dollar bill.

Many of you have already seen the horrifying footage: Floyd groaning and screaming, saying that he can’t breath, and later becoming unconscious. He was later confirmed dead.

This has caused a huge uproar across the country this Pentecost weekend. While many protesters are nonviolent, there are also reports of destructive riots and even fatalities. And it doesn’t help that President Trump writes “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” on Twitter, echoing Walter Headley who said this exact thing in 1967 when he threatened to order his policemen to shoot black people.

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At PCPJ, we care deeply about racial and social justice. We also believe in nonviolence and enemy love. So while we encourage those who make their voices heard, we cannot stress enough that it needs to be done without any violence. Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. shows us that it is indeed possible to stand up for the oppressed without causing any harm to others. Continue reading George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

by Maximus Nyssen.

As I continue to survey the American Christian landscape regarding responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my disappointment and bewilderment grows daily. Much of the responses from the Evangelical community – and especially those within the Pentecostal-Charismatic framework – have been frankly dangerous, conspiratorial, hyper partisan, scientifically illiterate and theologically bankrupt.

There are two dominant heresies alive in American Christianity today, which would be fundamentalism and nationalism.

Fundamentalism advocates an entirely unhistorical theological viewpoint that the Bible is a scientific textbook, and that any scientific hypothesis, theory, or fact that “opposes” some supposed scientific principle believed to be written in the Bible must be rejected as some sort of atheist attack on the faith.

This is a fairly modern heresy, one that entirely rejects historical theological discovery and exegetical studies, and only really came into prominence in the earlier part of the 20th Century. No one in antiquity, the early church, or the vast majority of the history of the Church held to any notion of fundamentalism.

Nationalism advocates the view that America is God’s “special nation” and that this nation is the best nation that’s ever existed anywhere, and implicitly propagates that all other nations, peoples, and races have something defective, lacking, wrong, or even evil in them. Continue reading Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

Black Vineyard Pastors: “We’re Tired of Being Angry”

Earlier this year, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two men who approached him with their pickup truck while he was jogging. These men were not arrested until a video of the murder went viral.

Our friends at the Vineyard Justice Network has posted a statement by a group of black pastors in the Vineyard USA. Among other things, they write:


How long, Lord, must [we] call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make [us] look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before [us]; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4

Written on 5/8, what would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday.

We’re angry. We’re tired. We’re tired of being angry.

There is nothing different about this time except that we are in a pandemic. A pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and Brown bodies, due to unequal access to healthcare, food and other life essentials. A pandemic that has us saying goodbye to our parents, grandparents and relatives at an alarming rate. A pandemic that compels us to wear masks when we know what the consequences could be – dangers that run deeper than the risk of infection.

Besides that, what’s different?

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a father and a son.

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a nation stuck in cycles of racialized violence and death.

This isn’t new. It’s history.

Lynchings were public gatherings — spectacles where human bodies, still alive, were stripped, tortured, dismembered, sometimes burned, and left to die. Community is not supposed to be like this. Our churches, too, are public gatherings — a place where the Body, however broken, can seek healing from the One with pierced hands. And yet, as pastors, we can simply feel responsible for informing the church about these tragedies, even as we hurt inside, barely having had time to process them ourselves. The Church is more than a place to announce Black Death, it is a Body meant to uplift Black Life.

This uplift involves looking sin and evil in the face and standing against it. As Jeannine Hill Fletcher says, “If Christians desire a world of racial justice and religious integrity, understanding the sin of white supremacy and Christian theology’s role within it is our only way forward.”

God does not look away from the pain and affliction of his people.

Neither do we.


Read the full statement here.

Editor’s note: Less than two weeks after this statement was released, George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, making it even more relevant.

Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?

In our Facebook forum, the issue of Pentecostal politics was raised recently by a friend of the ministry, Elias Kruger:

I would like to pose a question to this group. While I am greatly encouraged by PCPJ work, I have noticed that Pentecostals (and apostolic movements in general) tend to align squarely with right-wing politics. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent election of both Trump in the US and Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Living in these two countries and growing up in Charismatic circles, this was a dominant reality. Why do you think Pentecostals tend to align with authoritarian right-wing leaders? Is there something about our theology or praxis that needs to change?

Here are some of the responses that were given:

The problem is that people confuse Holy Spirit power with guys who make a big noise and sound confident. CEO disease. You see how successful Mr. Exceptional President has been with that.  Continue reading Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?