The Color of Compromise, by Jemar Tisby
MARCH 23, 2019
Public offense calls for public opposition.
Too many Christian leaders refuse to use their platforms to publicly speak against racism. Those who do tend to speak in generalities. “Racism is wrong,” they say, but they refrain from naming individuals or situations in which racism is at play. Moreover, they use euphemisms like “racial tension” or “racially charged” instead of simply naming words or actions “racist.”
More Christians, particularly people with large platforms, must be willing to take the criticism that comes with taking a prominent stance against bigotry. The effort to exercise due diligence and gather accurate information may delay a response, but it should not preclude one.
In addition, the reticence to call out specific sins specifically poses a problem. If a particular person has done something that violates the spirit of racial equality, then that person should be cited no matter how famous that person is. Confronting the shortcomings of powerful and respected people has never been easy, but it has always been necessary.
Publicly denouncing racism should also include disassociating with racists. If someone has been called out for racism, and they refuse to accept responsibility for the harm they caused—whatever their intent—then that person should not enjoy continued credibility and attention. Refuse to go to their conferences, buy their books, quote them on social media, or share their work. All of this can be done without rancor but with conviction.
This much is clear—the American church has compromised with racism. Countless Christians have ignored, obscured, or misunderstood this history. But the excuses are gone. The information cannot be hidden. The only question that remains is what the church will do now that its complicity in racism has been exposed.
In the Bible, James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” The church today must practice the good that ought to be done. To look at this history and then refuse to act only perpetuates racist patterns. It is time for the church to stand against racism and compromise no longer.