Ferguson: It Is a Sin Problem

TruthImageThere’s a Facebook post that is currently circulating. You know, the one written by football player Benjamin Watson. In it, Watson wrestles over his emotions regarding what is going on in Ferguson. While I don’t necessarily resonate with many of the points that he raises in the post, I do agree with some of Watson’s analysis of sin being the root of the problem in Ferguson. And so do other Christians, apparently. Over the last day or so, my Facebook feed has been full of peers posting and commenting on Watson’s piece, jumping on the sin bandwagon. Sin seems to be the idea that believers, who have otherwise been largely silent in Mike Brown’s death, can unite around. And so, since the idea of sin has come to the forefront, it is expedient that we take the opportunity to identify just what type of sin we are dealing with here.

You see, if we are going to have a conversation about sin we must be honest and forthright in our analysis. We cannot simply look at individual sins, but we must look much deeper into the soul of our nation and consider the factors, the history, and the values that have led us to this point.

Capitalism. This is really the sin that we are dealing with here. In the name of capitalism, America has done a lot of shameful things which include exploiting black and brown bodies. In pursuit of profit at all costs, the idea of race was created and used to justify treating blacks as property instead of people. Because blacks were not seen as fully human, it was okay to enslave us, beat us, and even kill us, with little to no consequence for any of these actions. In that construct, blacks were not only seen as inferior to whites, but were also labeled dangerous so that whether we are asking for help, walking down the street, or playing in the park, we are automatically assumed to be guilty without ever having a chance to be proven innocent.

The sins of racism and capitalism are, therefore, closely intertwined. In fact, capitalism cannot thrive without racism continually waging a war against black people in this country. Consider the war on drugs which disproportionately targets and imprisons black men, when in fact, whites use recreational drugs at the same rate, if not higher. Also look at the housing crisis; the homes of blacks were foreclosed on at higher rates than whites due to discriminatory lending practices. Blacks, regardless of credit and income, were steered into subprime mortgages and so were at a greater risk of losing them compared to whites.

And of course, Ferguson. Let’s look at Ferguson and the incidents of police brutality around the country. Data suggests that a black man is killed by a police officer or self-appointed vigilante every 28 hours. In the few weeks surrounding the death of Mike Brown, there were are least 4 other men who had been assassinated by the police. Now that Jim Crow is no longer legal, a practice that was set in place when whites started to feel threatened by the economic gains that blacks were making, the police force has become the de facto executioners of the state. Not only is this sinful; its downright demonic.

So yes, sin is the undergirding problem in Ferguson and America at large. But it is the sin of capitalism and racism that must be dealt with in order to move this country toward a place of healing, reconciliation and love. This is why we cannot allow the idea of sin to exonerate ourselves from dealing with the bigger issue here because if we ignore it, we will not only lose out on God’s peace but His very presence. While undoing racism is a big task (we are dealing with structural and systemic issues here), with God nothing is impossible. Here are a three ways to get started today:

1. #BOYCOTTBLACKFRIDAY: In the wake of Monday’s verdict, protestors, community leaders, and activists all over the country have been calling like-minded individuals to #boycottblackfriday and in fact, all related activity through Cyber Monday. Since it is capitalism that continues to allow people like Mike Brown to be shot and killed without being held accountable, capitalism has to take a hit. Stand with black people and our allies and proclaim before the world that #blacklivesmatter.

2. Preach about Ferguson this Sunday and the weeks to come with a deepened analysis around racism and capitalism. See the sin for what it is and bring your congregation, small group, or social media following through a critical and informed understanding of what is going on. This will require that you take the time to listen to what other people are already saying about Ferguson, but it will also demand that you start to educate yourself around racial justice issues.

3. Pray. And after you are done praying that God break this nation’s strongholds, join up with others to demand justice. This is a battle that will not only be won on our knees but with our mouths, hearts, and feet as we declare God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

*Note: It’s not about the rioting. It’s really, really not. It is because of CAPITALISM that some Americans value property over life.

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7 thoughts on “Ferguson: It Is a Sin Problem

  1. Carla

    The Pilgrims tried a form of socialism/communism their first year in America, and it didn’t work. As in our country today, too many people didn’t feel a need to work hard and pull their share of the load, and the community did not thrive. The second year, they tried something new. The land was divided and each Pilgrim family took a plot of land. Each family then had to take personal responsibility to survive and thrive. With God’s help, the majority of them worked hard, met the needs of their families, and many prospered. Consequently, this became a great nation. Most of our founding fathers had strong Christian beliefs, which, I’m convinced, played a large part in the nation’s success. Our nation is returning to the socialist/communist economic system, while turning it’s back on Christ, and it will continue to cause problems. In a holy nation, any economic system will work. When sin abounds, as it does, no economic system will work. My pastor talked about Ferguson in his sermon last Sunday, and I agree it’s not a skin problem, but a sin problem. Until Christ returns, we’re to continue to study and pray, and study and work, and study and share The Good News that Jesus loves us, bore our sins and died for us, and is eager to save, forgive, teach, and perfect us. I emphasize “study,” because, if we don’t know God’s Word, we don’t know God. Opening our Bible on Sunday morning to read a few verses of scripture with the pastor isn’t enough. It has to be a daily commitment, like eating and sleeping. Our souls need nourishment. We must continue to lovingly share Jesus and help and disciple other Christians, regardless of how they look or where they’re from. I believe your heart’s in the right place, but I urge you, everyone, to spend more time in scripture. P.S. An unarmed white man was killed early last month by a black officer. Where’s the outrage for Dillon Taylor’s death? Where’s the Attorney General? Where are the rioters and looters?

    1. ebonyjohanna

      Hi Carla, thank you for stopping by! There is one fatal flaw in your argument – this land was never for the pilgrims to cultivate. This land belonged to the Native Americans! Through conquest, war, genocide and rape, pilgrims and settlers took the and away from them. And then through slavery, they forced blacks to work the land that they stole. Therefore, the ‘prosperity’ that has resulted was won through theft and murder. As I look through scripture, I see God harshly dealing with nations who have operated in this manner. This is essentially what the prophets are about – God dealing with Israel and other nations who have exploited the most vulnerable people among them. This is also what Jesus critiques – the Roman empire who was getting rich by oppressing the Jews. So I agree, we need to study scripture, but let us study the entirety of it and not read it through the lens of this culture that has ordained violence as a way of being.

      1. George

        Oh good lord, Ebony… WHICH Native Americans are you talking about? The ones who were here when those “horrible white people” arrived had run off somebody else, who themselves had run off somebody else. It’s no different in your precious Africa where, throughout the eons, one tribe or people group has raped pillaged and conquered another people group had done the same thing earlier. Who sold Africans to the Dutch slave traders? Other Africans.
        This is NOT a white people problem. It is a people problem. White people are not the source of everything that is wrong in the world – as you obviously seem to think.
        You have a SERIOUS and SINFUL hatred of white people. Until you deal with that, you’ll never be more than a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.

    2. I don’t think that there’s any validity to your opening premise, that the “pilgrims” began with communism and failed. The pilgrims began as settlers/colonists in a land they did not understand. Within 20 years they had begun exterminating the people who lived here first. These are important facts to get right in order to move forward.

    3. “Pilgrims” did no such thing. They brought colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and all-out genocide to the Americas. And where could you possibly get this notion that it failed because “too many didn’t want to work”. Did you forget that the same year these “pilgrims” landed is listed as the official year that kidnapped slaves from Africa were brought to the U.S.? Capitalism has always been the force driving the economy, and capitalism only thrives through economic exploitation and poverty of a significant portion of the population.

  2. Wonderfully written!! I agree with you!! We can not, as Christians let ourselves off the hook and just call it sin as to absolve ourselves from action. The Bible is full of nations being destroyed because they refused to implement justice. As much as God is love, He is also justice. We never want to look at the deeper issues and sins of this psychopathic country. A country that was built and sustained by brutal injustices. Great read!!

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