Join us for the next Energion Hangout on Tuesday May 12 at 7:00 PM when I will be debating the question Social Justice Good Or Bad? I will be arguing that it harmful, while Steve Kindle, author of Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, will be defending it. Steve and I agree on many biblical principles, but our application of those principles to our daily lives are vastly different, so it should make for a lively and interesting discussion.
Archive for May, 2015
In his article “Why White Christians Need to Listen to Amos and Isaiah” Rev Morgan Guyton, the director of the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University, asks “I wonder what Amos and Isaiah would say about the self-satisfied scorn that so many white Christians have been spewing out into social media in response to the rage in Baltimore?” Given the question sets up a straw man, it answers itself. God is never pleased with “self-satisfied scorn.” While it fails as an indictment of “white Christians” in general, Rev Guyton’s article is, I think, a clear example of the problems with the attitudes of social justice.
At the risk of falling into “self-satisfied scorn,” I think that Rev Guyton’s claim that “the collective rage that has exploded into violence is an expression of God’s wrath” is absurd. Still it goes to the heart of my problems with his article, and with social justice in general.
For me it is easy to condemn the rioting. It brings nothing good and I agree with President Obama that those who participated in it are thugs. I am mad at the police so I am going to burn down an innocent person’s store? I am mad at the police so I am going to steal a TV? Just how does that make sense? The destruction of the community they brought about, not only caused a great deal of innocent suffering during the riots, but if history is any guide, it will cause problems and suffering for years, if not decades to come.
As for the “collective rage” that Rev Guyton claims is behind them, I would ask, rage about what? This question is asked in all seriousness as we still do not know who or what caused the injuries that lead to Freddie Gray’s death. So how do we do know what is behind the rage? This is the problem with Social Justice. It is the agenda that is important. The facts really don’t matter.
To see this one only needs to consider the events in Ferguson Missouri. Like Baltimore, riots occurred long before the facts were known. When they were known, it became clear that the whole, “hands up don’t shoot” meme was false, and that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.
For some, the idea that Brown was unarmed is all the evidence they need to convict Wilson, but to see the absurdity of that claim one only need consider the case of Officer David Smith who just a few months before the events in Ferguson responded to a report of a disturbance and was attacked by an unarmed man before he could even get out of his car, very similar to Ferguson. Unlike Ferguson, the unarmed man was able to grab Officer Smith’s weapon and then proceeded to shoot him to death.
Given the numerous split second decisions, and numerous mitigating factors in such a violent confrontation, it is not at all difficult to image that Brown had been able to get Officer Wilson’s gun and Officer Wilson would have shared the fate of Officer Smith, dead and largely unnoticed, like the other 127 officers who died in the line of Duty in 2014,
To put this number in perspective, something Social Justice advocates virtually never do, this is a number roughly equal to the number of black men killed by police each year. The difference being that almost all of the police shootings are justified, the killing of police officers are not. Also given the relatively small number of police officers compared to the black population they encounter, in the police face a greater risk of death. One could also compare this to thousands of black men murdered each year, mostly by other black men, don’t those black lives matter? The problem is that those deaths don’t fit the agenda of Social Justice.
In the end, the Justice of any given situation cannot be determined statistically. It depends on the actions of individuals, not groups. In this case it depends on what actually happened that led to Freddie Gray’s death. It will depend on the truth.
But for many advocates of Social Justice the truth does not matter. Only the cause matters. Thus you continue to hear Ferguson included in the list of alleged outrages, many of which are equally false, which led up to what Rev Guyton calls an explosion of “collective rage” Baltimore.
The other really troubling aspect about Rev Guyton’s charge is its stark racial foundation in that it is directed against “While Christians.” While troubling on many levels, it is very characteristic of Social Justice, which divides people into groups and then pits them against each other. It seeks division, not harmony.
The injection of race into the situation in Baltimore is especially awkward and difficult given that the city is 60% black, most of its elected officials are black and 3 of the six officer charged are black. Given this why does Guyton single out “white Christians” for his condemnation? These are the absurdities that come from abandoning true Justice for the false idol of Social Justice.
God is truth, and whenever we put our agenda ahead of the truth, we put ourselves ahead of God. This is never a good place to be. I, for one, am quite content to wait until I know what happened before I presume to know what would be Just. A rush to judgment rarely results in Justice. Neither does mob justice, whether by a lynch mob, or by a prosecutor who puts appeasing the mob head of seeking Justice.