Mark Murphy Response to Ramos 5/5/19 (J. Irby edit)
I’d like to include an addendum to these notes on the conversation with Ramos 5/5/19, particularly as it applies to Martin Luther King (quoted in the notes), because of an increasing problem with bigotry and the challenges it presents to us as disciples in a church that lifts up “Beloved Community,” known to us as Zion.
I think MLK was the most important American voice of the 20th Century, and perhaps the most important voice since Abraham Lincoln. I am an avid reader of the Civil Rights Era. Sadly, America has white-washed King and his message. For instance, on May 8, 1967, in an interview from Ebenezar Baptist Church, in responding to a question regarding his “I Have A Dream” speech, King said,
“That dream that I had that day has turned into a nightmare.” And in the last personal conversation King had with Harry Belafonte (the “Day-O” singer), King said, with some despondency, “I fear I may have integrated my people into a burning house.” And, on the morning King was killed, he had called in his sermon title for the upcoming Sunday, April 7, 1968, which was [to be], “Why America May Still Go to Hell.”
I share this because King was a minister of hope, but he had started to despair when he saw the course the country was staying on. Recently, you might have seen that hate crimes are up over 400% since 2012 in Seattle alone. Nationally, hate crimes are up for the third year in a row. Part of this is directly attributable to the kind of violent language coming out of people in political positions, people who do not morally or ethically qualify as leaders.
While I do not believe racism, misogyny, etc, resides in the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters who make up the Crystal Springs congregation, I do believe it is all too prevalent still in Christianity. As a prophetic people, we must develop the courage to speak up against expressions of hatred, exclusion, and dehumanization, wherever we are, and whenever and from whomever we hear such messages. It IS HARD to do this when it is friends and loved ones who might be speaking them, but do this we must as disciples of the Living Christ of peace and tenderness. There has been some good material developed in the past 3 years from other Christians on how to address the problem of racism in our churches. This might be worth a look, if for no other reason than to sensitize ourselves to how serious and pervasive it really is, something those of us with “White Privilege,” don’t often realize. For instance, the other day when I was stopped by a law enforcement officer for quickly passing over a carpool lane to get to a carpool exit, I never once thought about the need to put my hands on the dash board so the officer could see them at all times. And when I started to turn to get my wallet out of the backpack behind me, I told the officer I was getting my license, without any real concerns that the officer would immediately go on alert. Such is not a luxury our neighbors, friends, and loved ones of color have.
Blessings on all as we continue to pursue peace and justice, God’s Shalom, for all people. — Mark Murphy