Condemn the Bigotry, Not the Bigot

December 13, 2017
Bigotry is unequivocally wrong. But as we work to achieve justice for all, let's be careful that we don't fall into the same snares of prejudice that we condemn.

Racism, bigotry, white nationalism/supremacy, and xenophobia are evil, contemptible ideologies, and they have no place in the church or in American society. They are the among the worst forms of systemic abuse and emotional manipulation, and they cower in stark contrast to everything Christians and all decent Americans stand for.

But though we condemn, in the strongest possible way, such ideologies of fear, let us remember that the people bound to those ideologies remain human, made in the image of God as we all are. Let us not in our condemnation of bigotry see the person as the sum total of their error, for their creator still loves them and extends them mercy. May we be so filled with grace.

If, when we look at the photos of bigots, we see their hate but cannot see their person, it may be that we too are cloaked in hate. If we can only see them as abusers, we have already committed the sin of stripping them of their humanity, of rejecting the light of God that remains in them. Each of them has a story, a heartbeat, and a soul, and each of them is a candidate for God’s redemption.

The temptation to demonize the bigot is strong – it feeds into our inclination to divide the world into “us” and “them” – but it is not the way of Christ.

So let us condemn the ideology of hate. Let us work against the forces of darkness in the world to secure justice for all people. And let us remember that behind each hate-filled cry is a person in need of mercy and compassion.

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