About two months ago, World Vision’s CEO Richard Stearns issued a statement saying that it would permit its employees to enter into legally same sex marriages. As soon as he made the announcement, Christians around the U.S. responded with negative feedback. The denomination that I am a part of, issued their own statement and called for denominational members to withdraw their support from World Vision, a faith based organization that has done a mighty fine job meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families around the world. I am sure that other denominations and churches responded similarly, in that Stearns retracted his statement just as soon as he made it.
While I don’t agree with what went down, the whole display of power and bullying from the Christian community was just downright ugly, the scenario did show that Christians in this country have a degree of influence if only measured by the sheer size of the community. With that influence, many Christians have stood behind issues that they felt were in line with their values. Similarly, many Christians have stood against issues that they were not in sync with what they believed.
Many Christians exercised their power to back Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments in his interview with GQ magazine in December 2013. Many supported him because his thoughts on homosexuality resonated with theirs, never mind the crude and untactful way that he made those comments. Standing with Robertson, many also ignored and overlooked Robertson’s similarly bigoted statements made about African Americans. Even more have used this power to stand against Planned Parenthood and women’s rights and have backed any candidate willing to do the same.
But where was this collective power in the wake of Donald Sterling’s comments on racism and further stigmatization of HIV/AIDS? Where was the email, the letter, the tweet, encouraging the Christian community to boycott Clippers games or rally against the racist owner, demanding that the NBA do something about it?
Where was the power of the community after the Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis verdict – both who died on account of racial profiling and targeting? Or even in the shadow of the horrendous mass shootings that have occurred in recent years. Where was the edict admonishing us to write letters to Congress proposing stricter gun laws? Where were the petitions against Stand Your Ground laws? Where was the voice of the Christian community? Where was our strength and our presence felt in these issues?
Where was the power when nearly 300 girls were stolen away from their families in Nigeria in April? Where were our calls to our nation’s leaders putting pressure on the to get involved someway to #bringbackourgirls. Where are we on a daily basis when young women and girls are trafficked within our own nation’s borders? Where are we when millions of children go to bed hungry on an international scale? Where are the letters calling for better international development processes or divestment from companies that perpetuate this kind of oppression? Where is our voice fighting for change, fighting to make a lasting difference in our corner of the world?
It’s missing. And unfortunately our silence on these issues speaks volumes.
This is not to say that we don’t care. Many individual Christians, myself included, care deeply about the social ills that reinforce poverty, hunger, oppression and exploitation nationally and around the world. But we have to move beyond individual efforts and collectively put our voice to something that matters. Let our voice matter! Let our voice be relevant!
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