The Evil of Being Silent

The Evil of Being Silent May 25, 2017

fireby Michael Bowe

Dietrich Bonheoffer is often (mis) attributed for saying, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  Whether or not he said this, it still never ceases to amaze me the things we put up with now, as if they are common every day occurrences.  There seems to be a complete ignorance of prejudice.  Instead, of addressing these issues, people seem to be justifying them.  What happened to our decency?

Recently, several professors from a conservative seminary were pictured filled with several racist overtones.  This was considered a going away present for another professor.  In the picture, the men are dressed with crooked caps, hoodies, bandannas, and hand gestures of guns.  These are very intelligent men.  While I would likely disagree with much of their theology, I would suggest they are likely wonderful scholars.  However, I must question who thought such a picture would be a good idea?  These men would likely never have to struggle with the stereotypes that come caricatures they wished to personify.  I would like to question how each of those men felt about the injustice of Trayvon Martin and the stereotype that came with his hoodie.  While I am curious, I have not asked them.  Would they be silent?

Recently, Karl Oliver stated that people that support taking down confederate monuments should be lynched.  He has been criticized politically for such a remark and did apologize.  However, I must question, when did the think such a statement would be a good idea?  He wanted to penalize the removal of a memorial to a dark time in our history with a punishment that is a reminder of a dark time in our history?  Was this a statement of passion over a statue?  I must wonder how would he address the families of victims of lynchings.

Micah 6:8 states, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NRSV)  The question is as if this is common sense.  However, today is the church seeking justice?  I have simply listed 2 small non-life threatening occurrences and instead of calling for justice, some evangelicals are justifying these injustices.  Which is very concerning and heartbreaking when someone black is killed by the police, he or she is not innocent until proven guilty.  Instead, past mistakes and criminal records are displayed.  Police trials are often farces.  Why is no one crying out?  Why isn’t my church, the white church, seeking justice?

Hon. James Edwin Horton, Jr. states in his opening remarks before giving a new trial for the Scottsboro Boys, “Social order is based on law and its perpetuity is its fair and impartial administration.  The victims of deliberate injustice die quickly and their suffering ceases, but the teachings of Christianity and the uniform lessons of all history illustrate, without exception, that is perpetrators not only pay the penalty themselves, but their children through endless generations.”

How long will we have to pay the penalty?  How long will our children have to pay?  How long will the White church remain silent?  Can we stop being so evil?

Michael Bowe is a D.Min student at Memphis Theological Seminary

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