Will The Real Church Please Stand Up?

In this new year, I wonder how many religious people, or “the Church” will have the nerve to be brave?

I have long been saddened at the Church’s silence on issues like racism, antisemitism, militarism,homophobia and materialism. In fact, the Church has been complicit in many of these “isms,” something which is troubling because the silence and complicity seems so out of alignment with what holy documents would want its followers to do.

How is it that the world is in such disarray, with “believers” going at each other in the name of God, or oppressing other people, in the presence of a loving God who would demand justice?

It takes guts to speak up and speak out against oppression. I remember in seminary a friend of mine saying that his father, a pastor, was afraid to speak against racism because people would leave his church. Or I think of how pastors advised Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to not be so eager to change a racist system; they were “in bed” with an oppressive government and could not, in spite of their belief in God, condone a fellow Christian minister to right some amazing and long-standing wrongs in our society.

I wonder if they were trying to appease their congregations?

OK, I am making some very broad generalizations. There were and have been representatives of  “the church” who stood up for civil rights, for the rights of  Native Americans, for women, for gay people … But it seems that the broader picture of “the church” is that it has been largely silent as social viruses have ravaged our society and our world.

What brings me to this is my personal belief that “the church” has been afraid and unwilling to speak up and speak against what might be going on Israel. It seems that the Palestinians may not have been treated too well, but everyone is afraid to speak up, including the church. Why is it impossible to speak up for the Palestinians, and still be supportive of Israel? Why is it that “the church” cannot seem to support a people, the Palestinians, who seemingly have few people to speak up for them, and still support Israel?

Is the religion of our God that impotent? Doesn’t the Christian God demand that followers speak up on behalf of the oppressed? Does it make us “less Christian” if we speak up on behalf of a people who have nobody to speak for them?

The silence of the church today as regards Palestinians reminds me of the silence of the church during slavery, during the persecution of Native Americans, during the horrible mass extermination of the Jews under Hitler. Not only was the church silent during some of these events, but in some cases, it was complicit.

What is “the church,” anyway? Is it a mouthpiece and representation of and for God, or is it a network of social clubs?

I would hope that more churches will speak up against oppression of any kind in 2012. It seems that it is time for a new paradigm, a new demand that “believers” stop being so comfortable and be encouraged to lean on the God they believe in in order to bring about change in this world.

Surely, a change is needed. There is just way too much chaos – in spite of God.

A candid observation …