Among many of the major political stories of the past couple of years, one of the recurring and none-too-subtle undertones has been racism. That much of this has come coupled with a kind of politicised Christian conservatism is deeply disturbing. And that it seems to find proponents and supporters in our Church even more so.
Writing in the context of racial prejudice—as one who marched with Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel argued that prejudice is atheism, “a treacherous denial of the existence of God”. In other words, prejudice negates any pretence of trying to believe in a God who claims to have made all people in His image. Heschel continues, “Racial or religious bigotry must be recognised for what it is: Satanism, blasphemy. . . . Prayer and prejudice cannot dwell in the same heart. Worship without compassion is worse than self-deception; it is an abomination.”
Racism might be the most common atheism among Christians today. When we dismiss, devalue, exclude, marginalise and oppress others, we deny our shared Creator and Saviour. This sobering realisation must change how we listen and speak, “like” and post, vote and worship, think and work.