The varying perceptions of the Christian story divided our nation in antebellum times into two main camps: those who reconciled slavery and those who opposed slavery, both based on biblical teachings. Different interpretations of the Christian story divided our nation in the days of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement and culminated in the days leading up to the 2020 election when, in the face of racially disparate death rates due to COVID-19, Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Christian, ordered that “Black Lives Matter” be permanently painted on the street leading to the White House. And on January 6, 2021, the story of the ordained rule of White Christian men fueled an attempted coup and killed at least five images of God.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as followers of Jesus. How do we reconcile our faith stories? We bring disparate, competing narratives together by examining them, interrogating them, and most of all sitting at the feet of those who live and breathe and move in the same social hierarchy as those who first wrote and read and lived the biblical texts. Perhaps formerly enslaved ones, perhaps colonized ones, perhaps Brown ones in a White supremacist world can show White Christian Americans what they did not see in Brown, colonized Jesus. Any attempt to repair what race broke in our nation must contend with what race broke in our faith. In that space we will find the remedy for our nation’s repair.
From “Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World–and How to Repair It All” by Lisa Sharon Harper