The response to the shooting of nine black Christians at a Bible study by a White Supremacist last week kicked off lots of emotions. The overwhelming response has been condemnation. I personally felt sad, then mad, then sad again. I knew if they were real Christians, as I suspected they were, they would forgive the shooter and no one in “the world” would understand how hard it is to be a Christian-and how rare.
I’m starting to see rants against Christians, particularly southern Christians and their “stupid Bible.” The shooter made no Christian claims, his were standard White Supremacist fare: black people are killing and raping white people and stealing the country. He did mention that his victims were so nice, he almost didn’t gun them down, but then someone has to do something about this race war.
The shooter did that Stupid Thing: He lumped everyone with certain characteristics into a monolithic group. While the old ladies he shot were obviously not raping anyone, it didn’t matter because they were black and all black people are the same. Stupid.
In 2012 a White Supremacist shot six Sihk worshipers in Wisconsin. He did an even stupider thing, if that is possible. He lumped all brown-skinned people wearing turbans into “Muslims” and to fight back against “Islamofascism” he entered the temple of the peaceful Sihks (who derive from Hinduism and have nothing to do with Islam) and shot them dead.
My Southern Baptist Church preacher in a small rural Florida town once preached on racism. Pastor Steve read Scriptures like, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) He told the congregation that their racial biases were cultural, not Biblical and that black people were welcome in that church. He told them if they couldn’t stand that, he prayed they would be happy in their next church.
Twelve prominent families left the church. Some people talked bad about pastor Steve, they said he was causing division. Some people said pastor Steve was right, but were anxious about change; all humans get anxious about change. Many people said pastor Steve was not only right, but very courageous and backed him to the hilt. To me, he was a hero. I remember thinking, “How hard it is to be a Christian-and how rare.”
So don’t do that Stupid Thing: Don’t lump all Christians, even southern Christians, into a monolithic group. If you do, you’re being just as stupid as those deranged shooters.