Brown Church – Latina/o History and Theology

Brown Church – Latina/o History and Theology June 4, 2020

I’ve just started reading Robert Chao Romero’s Brown Church: Five Centuries of Latina/o Social Justice, Theology, and Identity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2020). As an Australian, I have more proximity and connections to the Christians of Asia and other former British colonies. So I have to plead ignorance about so much of South America and its Christian tradition (that said, learning about Simon Bolivar, the Mexican revolution, and the Cristera uprising has been very illuminating).  So this book by Asian-Latino historian Robert Chao Romero is quite informative for me, providing something of a crash course on Christian theology and activism in South America. In sum, Latina/o theology is not all tacos, hail Mary, and liberation theology, there’s a lot more depth and variety here. I had a sneak peak at the end and Romero closes with a very stirring call to non-violent resistance in the face of the weaponisation of racism in the USA:

The Brown Church of the United States has arisen to challenge its persecution at the hands of a twenty-first-century Pharaoh named Donald Trump. Like the Israelites three thousand years ago, the Latina/o community has been scapegoated by the majority culture and cast as a foreign military threat in a time of war. We are exploited for our cheap labor and vast economic contributions to the Gross Domestic Product of the United States ($428 billion annually) as well as for our additional billion dollar contributions to federal, state, and local taxes. In the same breath, we are blamed for the economic and national security woes of the country by wily politicians eager for the power of elected office. Led by the president, these politicians manipulate sinful human nature and our fallen tendency to hate those who are not like us, in the name of nationalism. Their racist rhetoric and conservative media performances can be compared to political “soft porn” that titillates a wide range of voters—from neo-Nazis donning khakis and torches, to disaffected working class white voters in Red States, to conservative fundamentalist Christians who would never consider themselves racist, and yet have never severed their colonial ties with the destructive ideology of  Manifest Destiny. Such xenophobic rhetoric has inspired numerous hate crimes and acts of physical violence against immigrants, including the El Paso massacre—the worst mass slaughter of Latinas/os in modern times. In the meantime, our immigrant mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, tías, tíos, and abuelitas and abuelitos are told to continue their same intensive labor production “without straw for bricks”(Ex 5:6-18)—without the basic necessities for work and life, such as employment visas, access to healthcare and transportation, affordable housing, and quality education for their children. The Brown Church is rising up against these injustices in the name of Jesus, the Savior from Galilee, who takes the side of the oppressed and most vulnerable, and who has walked with us through the evils of conquest, colonialism, segregation, exploitation, and violent military interventions in the lands of our mothers and fathers. This time is no different.

Here’s the IVP one minute video promo:

You can also watch an hour long interview with the Romero here on, quite appropriately, zoom! It is a very good watch, Romero gives a lot of his own story and biography in the process.

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