Friday, July 19, 2013

Russell Moore Rebukes White America: SBC Ethics Leader Engages in Open Ethical Failure

You can read the entire interview with Dr. Moore at The Washington Post.

Did a lot of Southern Baptist pastors preach on the Trayvon Martin case (Land retired from the commission several months after being reprimanded for controversial remarks about the Martin case)?Most white evangelicals, white Americans, are seeing this microscopically in terms of this verdict, and most African Americans are seeing it macroscopically. It’s Trayvon Martin, it’s Emmitt Till, it’s Medgar Evers, it’s my son, it’s my neighbor’s son, it’s my situation that I had. . . . Most white Americans say, “We don’t know what happened that night,” and [whites] are missing the point.

How do you feel about the verdict?Regardless of what Trayvon Martin was doing or not doing that night, you have someone who was taking upon himself some sort of vigilante justice, even by getting out of the car. Regardless of what the legal verdict was, this was wrong. And when you add this to the larger context of racial profiling and a legal system that does seem to have systemic injustices as it relates to African Americans with arrests and sentencing, I think that makes for a huge crisis. . . . I think many people assume our racial tensions are in the past because we have a Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, an African American president, but these sorts of situations demonstrate the raw reality that that’s not the case.

These two questions merit a somewhat critical response. Dr. Moore, is after all, the man in charge of ethics and Religious Liberty in the worlds largest Protestant denomination. Dr. Moore seems to imply that knowing the facts about the incident is irrelevant. We don't need to know the facts in order to evaluate the arguments and propositions being made as a result of the incident that night. I beg to differ. If Dr. Moore is right, then it could just as well have been 3 black guys attempting to gang-rape Zimmerman's wife and it wouldn't matter. The "Whites" would still be wrong for refusing to pass judgment on an event they did not witness and the Black community would be right to scream racism. Contrary to Moore's reasoning, the facts of the case that night make all the difference in the world IF anyone is going to use that incident to argue that race played a factor. How could it be otherwise? Moore doesn't say. If the Black community is going to compare Trayvon to men like Medgar Evers, then they have the burden to show that the situations were parallel. Nothing in any investigation so far has shown any similarities whatsoever.

I have to admit that Dr. Moore's second answer is very disturbing coming from a man in his position. Moore calls Zimmerman's behavior "vigilante" in nature. To be sure, this is a judgment about Zimmerman's behavior, but it is more than that. It goes to motive of the heart. Dr. Moore is being reckless with such characterizations and it is nothing less than shocking to see a man in his position engaging in such unethical and immoral behavior. Fact: Zimmerman was on the neighborhood watch team in his gated community. He sees a young man who is not supposed to be in the gated community. There have been several break-ins lately. Zimmerman decides to follow Martin from a distance while calling police to come investigate. How is this vigilante behavior? Maybe Zimmerman should have just ignored Martin. What if Martin was one of these men who was breaking into homes. Zimmerman would have been irresponsible NOT to do something! What is the point of having a neighborhood watch if you are NOT going to report suspicious activity. Dr. Moore's accusation is absurd on this point. If Trayvon had been white, I suppose we wouldn't be having this discussion. That is ridiculous. The color of his skin is irrelevant. If Zimmerman had been black and Martin white, it wouldn't change a thing.

Dr. Moore tells us that Zimmerman was wrong for getting out of his car. Why? Dr. Moore doesn't say. He presumes that Zimmerman was engaging in racial profiling. The only way one can determine if Zimmerman really was engaged in racial profiling is to know what was in his heart at the time. And none of us know that. Therefore, we cannot say if Zimmerman was actually profiling Martin. We also cannot say if Zimmerman had a vigilante mindset. That, too, is a matter of the heart. Moore seems to forget that in situations like this, people get the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.

From my perspective, the SBC head of ethics is guilty of judging George Zimmerman's heart. Dr. Moore cannot know if Zimmerman had vigilante inclinations and he cannot know if Zimmerman was racially profiling Martin. Moore says that Zimmerman should not have exited his automobile. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn't. Are we really going to indict Zimmerman for getting out of his car when we think, after the fact, from a distance, not being in his shoes, that he should have remained in his car. At the very least, this second guessing seems overly harsh and unrealistic. In the worse case scenario, it seems that even if Moore is right, and I don't think he is, then Zimmerman was guilty of making a bad judgement call to get out of his car. I must confess, I would have done the same thing. I would have wanted to let this person know that I was identifying them just in case they thought they could break into my neighbors home and take what does not belong to them. I suppose I have just as bad of judgment as Zimmerman.

I was not there the night George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin and neither was Russell Moore. We do not know what really happened. Neither of us can read Zimmerman's mind or know what Trayvon was doing in a gated community that he knew he had no right to be in. The incident was a tragedy. To allow it to create hate and lead to riots or protests that create unnecessary hindrances for people is inexcusable. To make comments that might be construed as justification for the racism that exists in the black community is irresponsible. Here are some very interesting facts about the latest numbers on racism in America:

37% of Americans believe that black Americans are racists. Only 15% said most Whites are racists.
31% of black Americans said that most black Americans are racists while 24% said that most Whites are racists. The poll was conducted by Rasmussen. You can read the article at Rasmussen.

Racism is hatred. John informs believers of this indisputable fact: The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I Jn. 2:9-11 It does not matter what the color of your skin is. Hate is proof God is not present in your heart.

So what is the Christian to do with this incident. The tempter has come to us all and he tempts us to hate for all kinds of reasons. I grow weary of being called a racist because I am white. I have friends who I know grow weary of being accused of things just because they are black. Satan wants us hating one another. He seeks to devour us with hatred. That is what this is really about. It is about rebellion against God. It isn't really about racism. It is about our heart attitudes and whether they are completely and totally surrendered to God. My focus has to be on pleasing my King and Redeemer. I cannot allow the hatred I see cause me to think ill of my brothers and sisters. That is the temptation. It isn't about just us, whites and blacks. It is about our Maker, the one who has created all men from one man, Adam. He is the one who has redeemed men from all races through one man, Christ. Our devotion to our redeemed is witnessed by our love and respect for one another.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you brother for posting this well timed and needed rebuke.

    I have to admit, I am ashamed of Russell Moore and his outlandish comments. This was neither an ethical issue or one involving religious liberty. Therefore, his comment wasn't needed anyway. However, maybe by commenting we have seen early on his true colors politically and something can be done about that.


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