Many have written me in the past days regarding my comments to what occurred over the past week in the city of Charlottesville. As a person, who has experience racism and hatred on the front line I was literally taken back by what I saw as the angry mob paraded through the University of Virginia’s campus.

Hate and intolerance has been normalized; as well as leadership dysfunctionality. Our President has lost his voice. In less than a year of taking the office of the highest office in the land he has brought nothing less than embarrassment to this position as the leader of the free world. How can you lead a free world and not lead your own country in such a dire time of need and healing?

Slavery was the most distinguishing reason for the civil war. I invite you to read the confederate constitution. These articles state clearly that the White man is superior to the black man and his sole purpose is to serve the superior race. This ideology continues to be perpetuated throughout the ages. These young people that were carrying the torches had to be taught the hate that rages in their heart.

As a part of the group who integrated schools in the state of Georgia in 1965. I have been arrested and beaten by police. I still have the marks on my face. Until America actually saw the pictures of bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Selma bridge did the country realize what was happening in the South under Jim Crow laws. Many of us today never have experience the level of arrogance and racism of the 1950’s and 60’s.

Religion is endlessly pliable. So long as pastors or priests (or in this case, televangelists) are willing to apply their theological creativity to serve political demands, religious institutions can be bent to advance any policy goal. With remarkably little prodding, Christian churches in Germany fanned the flames for Hitler. The Southern Baptist Church was organized specifically to protect slavery and white supremacy from the influence of their brethren in the North, a role that has never ceased to distort its identity, beliefs and practices.

Southern Baptists remained at the vanguard of the fight to preserve Jim Crow until the fight was lost. A generation later you might hear Southern Baptists mention that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister. They are less likely to explain that King was not permitted to worship in a Southern Baptist Church. African-American Baptists had their own parallel institutions, a structure that continues today.

“The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire.” When I see the confederate flag, it reminds me of a dark time when those that waved it in my face were not historians but bigots as they spurred out words of hate as I was called the “N word” for over three years.

As a nation divided we have become a laughing stock to the world, as we argue whether a man that thinks he’s a woman can still use the woman’s restroom and should we stand or sit during the playing of the national anthem. These are the questions I face whenever traveling abound to Europe and Africa.

Years ago, President Obama stated we were not a Christian nation. This caused an uproar on many fronts; however, if you understand what Christianity is really about this there is a level of truism in this statement. You cannot be a Christian nation and ignore the right of any man to be loved, to be treated with dignity and equality. The uproar about Charlottesville must be so violently loud in White American, that it places fear in the hearts of every people group who dare to threaten the peace of our nation with any culturally divisive rhetoric or demonstration.

Men’s hearts have created this environment and what’s going on in the world today. By merely refining their rhetoric and activating evangelical congregations, a new generation of Southern conservatives grow ever closer to winning a fight their forebears once thought was lost.

So, you may ask what can I do to change this world, our county and community. You must first start.

• Become part of or develop a Racial Reconciliation Group in your church or community
• Elect Politicians that address the real issues of your heart and the Word of God
• Get involved in your schools, community and local government
• Teach history of African Americans in public schools as a part of the core curriculum- not an elective and should be regular history.

In the words of Denzel Washington, “Don’t confuse movement for progress, you can run in place all day and never get anywhere.” The church has a withered hand that needs to be stretched forth for it to be healed. We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshipping God.

Relationships are built, we have a lot of fellowship but few really understand what a relationship is about. A relationship is significantly different than a friendship. The enemy’s job is to divide. Don’t fall into the trap the devil and the media has laid out. Don’t let them divide us as a people and as a church.

It is imperative that we find the moral compass for our country. When you think about it, we all came here in different ships but we are now in the same boat!

This is the Voice of the Overseer!


About johnhreid2013

Bishop in the Eagle's Rock Communion of Christian Leaders (ERCCL) and is member of International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC). He is the founder and Senior Pastor of Victory Family Outreach Ministries located in Woodbridge, VA.
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