Last year an anti-lynching bill passed on the floor of the United States Senate by voice vote. Meaning, it was not controversial and it passed easily. This bill intends to make the lynching of another human being a “hate crime.” This bill was sponsored by senators on both sides of the political aisle.
If you are not aware, lynchings (or hangings) have been employed in our country for a very long time. They are not conducted legally and are executed outside of the judicial system which provides “due process of law.” People who conduct lynchings are not only committing murder but they are also taking the law into their own hands. Historically speaking, most lynchings were conducted to enforce white rule and the flawed premise of white superiority. People who conduct such atrocities are often trying to establish or reinforce dominance and fear over another group of people. The U.S. Senate was correct in passing this bill in which it tags lynching as a hate crime.
This seems like a non-news item doesn’t it? You would think just about everyone would agree that this bill is good and even proper. The United States Senate did and they don’t agree on much of anything these days. As Americans we believe in due process of law and understand that killing people is bad especially if it is to assert some sort of fear of the “dominant culture” on another group of people.
But someone objected to this bill. As this bill moves over to the House of Representatives an evangelical Christian nonprofit organization is asking lawmakers to remove language from this anti-lynching bill that also protects Americans on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity before the legislation becomes law. NBC News reported on Wednesday that the nonprofit group, “Liberty Counsel” is lobbying members of the House of Representatives to remove provisions referring to sexual orientation and gender identity in this bill.
Whoa. I was beyond disappointed when I read about this yesterday. As you know, when people outside of the Church read that some think that all Christians are like that. Although it is not fair, it is human nature to generalize and group people together. But this is less concerning to me than this group’s agenda.
I cannot see how any Christian would want to remove any group of people from anti-lynching legislation. Is it a subtle nod to say these people are worthy of a “hate crime”? It is theologically bankrupt as a Christian to not see violence against vulnerable communities as a sin. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to remind us that we should not hate other groups of people. We often forget that it is surprising that the Samaritan man was actually good. Remember, Jewish people hated Samaritans back in Jesus’ day. So much so that one person used the worst slur against Jesus he could think of when he said, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (John 8:48)
Jesus came and cared for the marginalized. Jesus sided with the outsider. He ministered to people who were discounted, ostracized and minimized. In other words, he lived into the thing he talked about repeatedly: love.
Even Jesus told us to “love your enemies”(Matthew 5:44) and then he did exactly that from the cross when the religious authorities conspired to have him killed. Remember what Jesus said as they mocked him? “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) We have been called to follow the embodiment of love and share that love, not hate, let alone condone violence.
I can’t help but think about one other thing… evangelism. How on earth can we reach a hurt and broken world if we hate them? Our job is to love… love people into the Kingdom of God. The best way to reach people is to care about them.
God bless you,