By Kristen Johnson
On this day in history, September 15, 1935, German Jews were stripped of their citizenship. In years leading up to the laws, Jews were unable to participate in a number of vocations, “Jews not welcome” signs were commonplace in places of business and other public areas, and discrimination in general was acceptable. The Nuremberg laws made these discriminatory acts law, as well as forbidding Jews to marry “Aryans,” and they could not employ “Aryans” under the age of 35. They found it difficult to buy food and to buy medicine, because store owners refused to admit them. (History.com).
Flash forward to this day in history in the U.S., September 15, 1963, 28 years after the Nuremberg laws were set in place. 4 black schoolgirls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday morning services at their Baptist Church. This Church bombing was the third bombing in the 11 days after the federal government ordered school integration in Alabama’s public school system. (History.com).
It is common today to talk about the horrors of slavery, Hitler’s reign, and Jim Crow days with shock and disgust. But, are we really improving today when it comes to segregation, racism, sexism, and homophobia? Perhaps not.
- Women make 79% of what men earn. It is worse for African American and Latino women, and the gap is even wider as women age. (Forbes.com)
- “Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.” (NAACP)
- Regarding hate crimes, “L.G.B.T. people are twice as likely to be targeted as African-Americans, and the rate of hate crimes against them has surpassed that of crimes against Jews.” (New York Times)
- “Among racial and ethnic groups, African Americans had the highest poverty rate, 27.4 percent, followed by Hispanics at 26.6 percent and whites at 9.9 percent. 45.8 percent of young black children (under age 6) live in poverty, compared to 14.5 percent of white children.” (The State of Working America).
I don’t have all the answers, but clearly progress still needs to be made. Can we start in the Church?
A previous study of Protestant pastors by LifeWay Research found more than 8 in 10 (86 percent) have congregations with one predominant racial group. The National Congregations Study found a similar lack of diversity in houses of worship. (Christianity Today)
Jesus is for everyone, so making diversity progress in the Church is clearly a goal ministers and congregations need to make. Inclusiveness is a no-brainer.
Romans 16:17 (NRSV): 17 I urge you, brothers and sisters,[a] to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them.
Galatians 3:28 *NRSV): 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
It is time to move forward. End segregation. End sexism. End homophobia. End hate.
Serve all with love.
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