#BlackLivesMatter argument rears its head in my church

#BlackLivesMatter argument rears its head in my church
Why can't we just all get along? I guess I'm a part of the problem.

#BlackLivesMatter, the hashtag that can either show your loyalty or make others think you’re a faithless sellout. Never would I have categorized myself as the latter, but this is exactly what happened to me when the #BlackLivesMatter issue showed up in my church’s Praise Team private Facebook group. One of our members, my sister with whom I worship with weekly, voiced her frustration and wanted us to show our support for the injustices of Blacks with the suggestion that we wear #BlackLivesMatter T-shirts in front of the congregation as we sing on Sunday morning. On the surface, this suggestion seemed innocent enough since our team is one hundred percent Black, so what could be the harm? For her, we would be taking a stand against social injustice and church is the very place where this should be done.

I could not have disagreed with her more.

For me, the problem lies in using worship as a time to “advertise” our views when worship is a time for just that, to show reverence and honor to God, and so, by wearing the shirts, people’s hearts and minds would be directed toward the crises we are facing–albeit important and necessary–but as the book Ecclesiastes teaches, “there is a time and a place for everything” and our time of leading praise and worship is not the time for this message. As I asked our group, if we were to wear the shirts, where would we draw the line?

“Would we wear shirts for Hillary? Democrats? Gay marriage (for or against)? This is the challenge of using the pulpit for social aggrandizement.” I said to her, “I reiterate I do understand your heart and where you are coming from and agree with the message that #BlackLivesMatter, but for me, Sunday morning worship, is not the time…for ME.”

This was the example of the kind of T-shirt she wanted us to wear in church.

This was the example of the kind of T-shirt she wanted us to wear in church.

I encouraged her to allow the Holy Spirit to use her as she was led, but to be mindful and respectful if others are not led the same way.

Well, why did I say that?

She went on to give me a lesson on Black history. (I’m actually older than she is, and while young people can enlighten their elders, it was just out of place and bizarre in our group of worshippers in which two of the members are my teenage daughters and our leader is my husband!) Her dialogue went on to say this…

“True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken…. that’s biblically accurate. Hillary? Democrats? Gay marriage? No one is systematically being murdered or experiencing harsher sentences for supporting Hillary, being a Democrat, or marrying someone of the same gender. However, African American men and women are being murdered by law officials, receiving harsher sentencing, and suffering from the trauma of repeatedly watching this, reading this, experiencing this injustice.”

Okay, so now I gotta problem because what began as a simple idea of wearing some shirts in church, to me, turned into her questioning the validity or authenticity of my faith and my beliefs, and this from my fellow sister, in which, herein lies the problem with this whole #BlackLivesMatter issue: It’s divisive. It’s exclusive. It’s wrapped up in a nice hashtag as if to be a form of social consciousness and enlightenment when in actuality it stems from the same hatred that has this country divided in the first place, and that is to say, that one race, culture, class, or gender is better than or more important than or superior to another.

Ring a bell?

While I really did have to take a step back and hear her heart, I also had to remind myself who I am, and whose I am because I am the child that rode around in the car with my mother whose Afro was so big that it touched the roof of her car. Both my parents sprayed so much Afro Sheen when I was a kid I probably got high off of it long before people knew sprays could be toxic inhalants. On Saturday morning, you couldn’t even breathe hard in the car when my father drove us to the Izola’s restaurant for breakfast, an unspoken South Side landmark where he blasted AM 1390 with Jesse Jackson breathing life into my soul that “I am somebody! I may be Black, but I am somebody! I may be broke, but I am somebody! I AM SOMEBODY!” And then if that were not enough, we would go home after and burn off calories dancing around to Don Cornelius’s infamous Soooooul Train, but once again, we couldn’t talk when he interviewed the artists. It was important to my parents that we listened to their struggles and celebrated their triumph of being on Soul Train. They had arrived, and I could too, if I worked hard and made wise choices. They instilled those values in me.

But it didn’t end there.

My mother studied African Literature at Olive Harvey College where she graduated with Honors after having her first daughter years prior at the age of 17, which in her day, meant she was shunned and ridiculed, yet she rose to become a great educator herself, and director of Career Development for over twenty years at Chicago State University, in turn, helping to inspire other Black youth to work hard toward their goals and dreams.

But she didn’t just help Blacks and Blacks just didn’t help her.

You see, we like to say that “it takes a village to raise a child,” forgetting that in that village are people of all colors, cultures, and creeds.

Yes, #BlackLivesMatter, but so do ALL lives.

For me…

#Lovematters

#Faithmatters

#Hopematters

#Unitymatters

#Humanitymatters

And just because I think and feel this way, doesn’t mean I think and feel less about others. It just means we think differently and for me, real maturity, real faith, lies in our ability to have a direct, personal, and close enough relationship with God to allow people to be who they are.

I know in writing this I am opening the door to be lambasted for not taking a stand, which for me is absolutely okay because whoever thinks that is right. I’m not taking a stand. I’m bending my knees. And guess what? There is power in both.

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About Me: I am a proud member of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center’s church, where as a Salvationist and “soldier” in the “Army” we wear uniforms when we worship and serve in ministry. I am proud of this because the uniform, for me, is my outward symbol of me being dressed and ready for warfare, and a sign that I am in the Lord’s Army. For information more about The Salvation Army and why we wear uniforms, click here. If you would like more information about the Kroc Center, a beautiful facility located on the South side of Chicago, with its unique opportunity to worship and workout in a state-of-the-art fitness facility, along with five Chicago Bulls style basketball courts, swimming and lap pools with fun water slides for the family, click here. We’d love to have you join us!

 

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    Elana Anthony

    I am a wife and mother blessed to have six daughters who fill my home with love and laughter. My passion is writing and teaching, but most especially inspiring people to live healthy lives in my faith-filled fitness classes. My dream is to have my own faith and fitness TV show where people from all the world collectively join together on our "temple" building project of enjoying optimal health. I am a certified group fitness instructor by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and earned graduate degrees in Writing from DePaul University, in addition to a degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the California University of Pennsylvania. I have seen and experienced the hand of God work and move in my life, and consider it an honor and blessing to be saved to serve.

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