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The Broadening Definition of Racism

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

During the week leading up to the observance of the government's Martin Luther King Day, the local paper heralded the formation of a new group called Churches Uniting in Christ. Nine denominations joined to campaign against racism.

The very development of these organizations which tie denominations together is fascinating, especially when we compare the complexity of man's religion in the name of Christ to the simple organization of Christ's church. In Christ's church we have Christians joining together in local congregations. There is no higher organization. Each congregation is autonomous and answerable to Jesus Christ himself. Yet modern man's denominations are composed of hierarchies of local and regional bodies which answer in turn to national and worldwide bodies. These bodies are now, in turn, organizing into supra-denominations as they search for unifying themes among their fractured beliefs.

The members of Churches Uniting in Christ "seek forgiveness for the sin of division." [I wonder if these denominations ever notice what the word "denomination" means.] Historically, these denominations had race as a dividing issue, but now they are making efforts to coordinate opposition to racial injustice. The combined effort will not require the various member denominations to teach the same thing. The agreement declares them united in embracing people of all races while remaining different. "We discovered a broader identity, and it doesn't need to be that we always speak the same word at the same time," said George Worcester of the United Church of Christ. Of course, this directly conflicts with Paul's statement in I Corinthians 1:10, "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

The goal of eliminating racism appears to be noble. Rhymes Moncure, a United Methodist Church bishop declared, "You have to almost lift [racism] up as a sin, and obviously it is, but that's one of the sins all the denominations can understand, and it's a beginning place." On the surface, it appears to be in harmony with Paul's declaration in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Yet dig a little deeper to find out what is considered sinful racism. Full members of this organization commit to "oppose all marginalization and exclusion in church and society on the basis of such things as race, age, gender, forms of disability, sexual orientation and class."

Oops! Notice what was slipped as a sin: excluding someone because of their sexual orientation. We have denominations not only accepting homosexuality, but now we also have some declaring that the opposition to homosexuality is a sin. Obviously, the words of Paul make no difference to them. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" ( I Corinthians 6:9-10). Here is a classic case where evil is defined as good and good is defined as evil (Isaiah 5:20).

These misguided denominations declare the Bible as "the rule and ultimate standard of faith," but they don't believe it. They have no shame in taking stands against the teachings of God. The world is rapidly losing all concepts of right and wrong and it brings tears to my eyes to see it.