If you have not heard by now, the Clay Hills Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky has recently come under fire for a skit they recently ran, featuring one of the ministry staff in blackface.
Pastor Jeff Fugate “apologized,” saying “I apologize if I offended someone.” (emphasis mine)
At the risk of sounding sarcastic (hint: yes, I will be sarcastic; that was sarcasm, for the sarcasm-impaired), can it really be true that no one in that community is aware of the awful history of blackface, to say nothing of a cultural climate in which George Zimmerman can kill an unarmed black teenager because whatever, and in which Michael Dunn can be found guilty for attempting to murder a group of young (and, again, unarmed) black men but get a hung jury on the murder charge for the one young man he did manage to kill?
Is it even possible that the good folk of Clay Hills Baptist Church know nothing of Oscar Grant III, a young black man who was shot to death by a police officer while he was laying on the ground and unarmed?
Just so we are clear, I am not referring to Emmitt Till or any of the other crimes against black people that happened waaaay back when everything was in black-and-white (pun intended). I am referring to tragedies that have happened during the administration of this nation’s first black president.
And before anyone starts in with “it’s only one church, they all aren’t like that, one of my best friends is black”, please, feel free to shut all the way up.
This kind of incident is typical of the absolute cultural tone deafness exhibited by modern evangelicals. These are the kind of folk that would love to quote you the relevant portions of Romans 1 with regard to gay marriage, but probably don’t even address the relevant portions of Numbers 12.
Not familiar with that passage? Let’s go to the bible, shall we?
Numbers 12 -
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 4 And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. 5 And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.
10 When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. (ESV)
Just so we are clear, here is a summary:
1. Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother, got sideways of Moses because of Moses’ wife.
2. Specifically, they got sideways of Moses because his wife was Cushite (Ethiopian in some other texts).
3. Cushite and/or Ethiopian does, in fact, mean black. (To be clear, not all followers of Christ are complete and utter idiots about race – for example, please read this AWESOME post by John Piper on the same text. Please note his genuine humility about it. And please understand that he is one of the exceptions.)
4. God then got sideways of Miriam and Aaron, because God doesn’t like racism.
5. To make the point stick, God put leprosy (a skin disease) on Miriam, turning her white and forcing the Israelites to put her outside the camp until such a time as He felt she’d learned her lesson (in this case, a week).
6. To sum up: God has a problem with racism.
it sez so right here that the above-quoted text is not in the regular rotation of Clay Hills Baptist Church sermons. It sez so right here that there are few (if any) black members of Clay Hills Baptist Church. It sez so right here that the socioeconomic makeup of that church is going to be remarkably identical and stable throughout the membership roll.
How do I know this?
No church with a significant black membership would ever have allowed this idea to get past the brainstorming stage. In fact, if someone had had the temerity to even suggest it to a black church member, well, that person deserves the withering side-eye he or she would surely receive, and any restrained words of rebuke that followed.
No, this kind of idiocy could only have happened in a church that is monolithic in its socioeconomic makeup. There aren’t any weirdos or strangers in that church. There aren’t any black folks or Mexicans or anyone darker than a paper bag in that church. There aren’t but a few folk unable to make their mortgage payment in that church (and those folk need to hurry up and repent of all that financial mismanagement, because we know [sarcasm alert] that all financial misfortune is the direct result of squandering God’s blessings [end sarcasm alert]).
These are the kind of folk that think that poor Paula Deen was attacked by the right-wing media for no reason at all.
And they are going to do nothing about it, or, well, nothing of consequence, anyway. There will be some hand-wringing, a few more mea culpas depending on how much national attention it gets, Albert Mohler will weigh in solemnly from his radio program and/or blog…and that will be it. The members of that church will move on, and next summer they will be sending their kids to a camp whose purpose is “outreach,” and they’ll talk about “impacting the world for Jesus,” and they’ll stay in their safe community around people who look and sound just like themselves and they’ll leave their Athlete’s New Testament on top of their book stack (because [sarcasm alert] the Athlete’s New Testament has different…stuff…in it…than the old-fashioned regular New Testament [end sarcasm alert]).
Not one of them will have more than one black friend. Not one of them will have any gay friends. Not one of them will have any friends with serious substance abuse problems. Not one of them will know, actually know a homeless person. Not one of them will actually take a parolee into their home.* To them, being broken by sin means that one time when they had to give up smoking and, boy, that was tough, but I leaned on Jesus…
By this time next year, everyone involved in this will have forgotten it. Their yards will be mowed. The occasional new truck will be in the driveway. The softball team will have a double-header on Saturday. Nothing substantive will have changed.
That is the fail of Churchianity. They will look no different in a year than they look right now.
*…and before you ask, yes, I did before and I’d do it again. Putting a parolee on the street and telling him “now don’t get into any trouble” is a sure-fire recipe for helping him get into all of the trouble. Put him in a stable situation, feed him, clothe him, run him to his job appointments, do NOT expect him to become Mr. Responsibility immediately, EXPECT shady behavior until he realizes that he doesn’t have to be that way anymore, FORGIVE the trespasses that will most certainly come, and HELP a person resume his place in society.