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    Building Bridges

    In our neighborhood, high concrete walls surround our homes. Many of these walls are enhanced with electric barbed wires lining the top. The purpose? To ward off robbers.

    Frequent power outages are also a problem in our neighborhood. These outages render the front gate-bell useless. Because of the wall, a visitor may be kept out in the scorching sun or torrential rain during these outages. Yet even when the gate-bell works, to admit the visitor might depend on who they are. Our fence-walls serve a good purpose, but they can become walls of discrimination—even when the visitor is obviously not an…

    The Burden of Hate

    Writing in the heat of the American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned words regarding how we must go about the work of justice: “I am concerned that Negroes achieve full status as citizens and as human beings here in the United States. But I am also concerned about our moral uprightness and the health of our souls. Therefore I must oppose any attempt to gain our freedom by the methods of malice, hate, and violence that have characterized our oppressors. Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. . .…

    Fearless Love

    Reminiscent of an era we wish were bygone, individuals consumed with hatred and prejudice carried torches and shouted slogans from a hideous time in America’s racial history as they marched across a university lawn. Barely twenty-four hours later, the governor of the state in which the school is located declared a state of emergency due to violent clashes. Only the base depravity of sin decries the life of another as less valuable, less human—and only the power of the cross brings us deliverance.

    A Prayer of Forgiveness

    In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

    Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every…

    A Prayer of Forgiveness

    In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

    Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every…

    Together before God

    Last summer, my city was embroiled, yet again, in a confrontation with the ongoing realities of racism in our nation. To protest the removal of a local statue honoring a general who fought to preserve slavery, some white-supremacist groups descended on our town. The pain caused by the hate-filled demonstration opened wounds that were hidden below the surface. In the US, we like to pretend that these issues are ancient history, but until we deal head on with these sins, we’ll never be healed of the evil.

    Pursuing Unity

    Growing up during the 1950s, I never questioned racism and the segregation practices that permeated daily life in the city where we lived. In schools, restaurants, public transportation, and neighborhoods, people with different shades of skin color were separated.

    My attitude changed in 1968 when I entered US Army Basic Training. Our company included young men from many different cultural groups. We soon learned that we needed to understand and accept each other, work together, and accomplish our mission.

    When Paul wrote to the first-century church at Colossae, he was well aware of the diversity of its members. He reminded them, “Here…

    Removing the Barriers

    I saw Mary every Tuesday when I visited “the House”—a home that helps former prisoners reintegrate into society. My life looked different from hers: fresh out of jail, fighting addictions, separated from her son. You might say she lived on the edge of society.

    Like Mary, Onesimus knew what it meant to live on the edge of society. As a slave, Onesimus had apparently wronged his Christian master, Philemon, and was now in prison. While there, he met Paul and came to faith in Christ (v. 10). Though now a changed man, Onesimus was still a slave. Paul sent him back…

    The Day I Was Saved by Unbelievers

    Eighteen years ago, my carefree life turned into a living hell overnight. It was May 1998, and riots broke out in my city, Jakarta in Indonesia. They were triggered by economic problems including food shortages and mass unemployment.

    Why We May All be Guilty of Racism

    Last week, a friend of our family was walking with his wife in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago when he was attacked by a gang of young men and badly beaten. He ended up spending the night in the hospital with several cracked bones in his face and other assorted cuts and bruises.

    Jesus the Reconciler

    I live in a region and neighborhood that share a tragic racial history. For instance, the daughter of one of my elderly neighbors was part of a civil suit to force area schools to obey federal law and desegregate. As I’ve spoken with my neighbors, I’ve had to grapple with the racial divide in my country, with the many ways people have yet to fulfill God’s mandate to be agents of reconciliation.

    Radical Love

    Early in his career, former Ku Klux Klan (a white supremacist group) leader Johnny Lee Clary met African-American Reverend Wade Watts at a radio station debate. “Hello Mr. Clary,” Reverend Watts said before they went on air. “I just want you to know that I love you and Jesus loves you.”

    Driving Out Darkness

    In early 2015, a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma in the US was caught on video singing a deeply offensive and racist song. Reaction by university officials was swift and stern, and rightly so. But what did Isaac Hill, president of the school’s Black Student Association, have to say? After all, the chillingly racist chant had targeted African-Americans.

    Minister of Reconciliation

    As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached on a Sunday morning in 1957, he fought the temptation to retaliate against a society steeped in racism.

    “How do you go about loving your enemies?” he asked the Dexter Avenue Baptist congregation in Montgomery, Alabama. “Begin with yourself. . . . When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.”

    Quoting from the words of Jesus, King said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you .…

    A powerful exchange between Jesus and a religious lawyer

    The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the greatest short stories Jesus ever told. Today we take a look at the stirring conclusion to a powerful exchange.

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