Together Frankfort: Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
By Rev. Dr. Chuck Queen, Minister, Immanuel Baptist Church
Karen, Mary Lynn, Together Frankfort thank you for the invitation to speak and thank you for consistently telling us the truth, because truth is in such short supply today, especially in the halls of power. We have come almost daily to expect from President Trump and his administration alternative facts, deceptions, and untruths – some disguised as truth, but many just blatant lies.
One of my Baptist colleagues who is not afraid to speak the truth recently said, “If Donald Trump had been the first president he would claim the cherry tree is still standing while holding an ax and eating cherries.” But who would have thought a president of this great country at this time in history would hesitate for even one moment and not immediately and decisively condemn and denounce the racist, hate groups like the KKK and the white Nationalists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. And to suggest as Donald Trump did in his initial response and again as recently as yesterday that the protest of hate groups is somehow morally equivalent to protests on behalf of civil rights and racial equality is absolutely ludicrous.
When there is a huge void of moral leadership by those in power then we the people must fill it. We must not be afraid to speak truth to power and stand with and advocate for those oppressed by those in power and by hate groups who feel empowered by our president and his administration. An administration that employs children as bait to round up the undocumented so they can mercilessly deport mothers and fathers tearing them from their families. An administration that would if they could strip health care from those who need it most. An administration that offers up compassionless budgets that give little to no regard for our country’s most vulnerable.
Telling the truth is not and will not be easy. I love the passage in Luke 4 where Jesus describes his mission and agenda as one of setting captives free, giving sight to the blind, liberating the oppressed, and taking up the plight of the poor. These words seemed initially pleasing to Jesus’ hometown crowd until he explained what they meant and pronounced God’s blessing and healing grace upon those discarded as outsiders. Then, the text says, they tried to hurl him off a cliff.
When we tell the truth, when we proclaim God’s love and blessing upon all God’s children, when we stand up for social and restorative justice – for people of color, LGBT and transgender persons, the undocumented, the mentally and physically challenged, and all religious minorities there will be those in our families, in our churches, in our communities, in places of power who will press us to sit down and shut up. But we must not. For to be silent is to be complicit in the evil and lies and injustices of our time. So let us keep telling the truth sisters and brothers, and let us stand with and beside all those who are pushed aside and beaten down.
But let me offer one caveat. As we stand in unity with the oppressed and speak truth to people in power we must carefully guard our hearts, lest the hatred of the oppressor become in our hearts hatred for the oppressor. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. For no matter how marred the image of God in the oppressor, the oppressor still bears that image and is also a child of God. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr said that an element of goodness may be found in our worst enemy. He taught the civil rights marchers and advocates of his day that the goal was not to destroy the enemy, but to turn the enemy into a friend. For God’s great plan, I believe, is nothing less than the reconciliation of the whole world.
It is true that there is a time to wait. But now is not that time. Now is the time to tell the truth. Now is the time to act out the truth. Now is the time to write letters and op-eds. Now is the time to march and protest. Now is the time to assemble and speak out. Now is the time stand in solidarity with all those threatened by hate and by the injustices of an unjust government. Let’s stand together and stand strong.