While You Were Talking About Gungor, Driscoll, and Walsh

As white Christians debate who’s going to hell, the black community is already there, and nobody seems to give a damn.

Last week, a World magazine post denouncing Michael and Lisa Gungor for not reading the Bible the way the World magazine editors know is the only way God ever intended it to be read went viral. Relevant magazine responded. The white evangelical and post-evangelical world went crazy. Blog posts were written and tweets were fired.

Last week, Mark Driscoll got removed from the Acts 29 Network that he started. Lifeway Stores pulled his books. Blog posts were written and tweets were fired.

Last week, Ohio police shot and killed a young black man named John Crawford because he was holding a toy gun in Walmart. White Christian twitter was silent. No blog posts were written.

On Saturday, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri gunned down another young black man, Michael Brown. Some sources say the cop put eight bullets into the boy — a boy who was due to start college that Monday — while he was backing away with his hands in the air. White Christian twitter was silent. No blog posts were written.

On Monday, Robin Williams committed suicide. Conservative blogger Matt Walsh took to twitter to express his ignorance, and when he received backlash, filled an entire blog post with even more ignorance. Thanks to the outrage (and occasional “Yeah, you go, Matt!”), I would be willing to bet that in the white Christian world more people know Matt’s name than Michael’s, and more are outraged by what Matt said than by the fact that an African-American teenager was gunned down in the streets of the United States by the police for no reason other than the color of his skin.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles police shot yet another black man, Ezell Ford. Many white Christian bloggers and tweeters and Christian leaders (save Rachel Held Evans and a few others) still haven’t said a thing.

Meanwhile the news outlets are trying to figure out why the Ferguson police department looks more like a military. Journalists who tried to hold them accountable were arrested. And few members of the white evangelical twitterverse have said anything.

While the white Christian world debates who’s going to hell, the African-American community is already there, and nobody seems to give a damn.

While the white evangelical twittersphere was debating whether Mark Driscoll should step down from his pastorship, members of the black twittersphere were guessing which picture of them the media would show if a white person or a cop gunned them down. This is the world we live in. As my wife Kristen said, “We’d rather focus on who’s going to heaven or hell than the social injustice.”

We’d rather make Matt Walsh infamous than the police officer who shot Ezell Ford dead while Ford was lying on the ground and complying with police demands.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about Gungor and Driscoll and Williams and Walsh. I’m just concerned that in the midst of all the loudness about them, many white Christians aren’t saying anything about the racial injustice going on in the US.

In the original version of this post, I referred to the world that was silent as “The Christian Twitterverse.” Christena Cleveland pointed out that I had a blind spot:

(POC is an abbreviation for “People of Color).

The fact that I hadn’t seen any Christians talking about this didn’t mean nobody was talking about it; it only meant that nobody I was listening to was talking about it.

Several people have since told me I need to center the voices and expertise of black Americans. I’m new to this whole “speaking out against racial injustice” thing, so I asked for an explanation. It means to share content by the people who live this stuff day after day, who’ve studied it, and who know what it is to be black in America.

In that spirit, I want to turn the blog over to black Americans and pray I haven’t talked too much already.

If you’re not horrified yet, check out the Twitter hashtags #Ferguson and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

If you are horrified, there are some things that you can do.

First, sign Shaun King’s petition. Read the horrible list of unarmed black men who’ve been killed simply for being black. Then go to his web site at 5actionitems.com and get busy.

Second, tune in ethnic minorities. Hear what you’ve been missing. Christena Cleveland has a list of recommended Bloggers of Color. Start following some of them. When I wrote my original post, I got a long list of people to follow. This list included:

Third, if you want to be horrified more, look at the tweets on #NotMyChristianLeader, like this one:

Oh wait. That one was for me.

The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author.
An earlier version of this article appeared on the author’s blog.

Image courtesy of Daniela Kantorova.

David M. Schell
Written by
  • Greg Hahn

    I don’t know what Twitter planet you were on last week. @greg_hahn

  • http://www.sarahsiders.com Sarahsiders

    Wow, David. This is really good. A conviction and awareness punch in the gut. Thank you for the recommendations of those to follow. Our worlds are too small. Thank you for being courageous enough to write this. Do not listen to any voices that suggest this wasn’t necessary. It was.

    • VolvoDriver

      Hateful tripe is what is is – with a side of snark and arrogance.

  • curious

    I’m not on twitter. This post is the first I’ve heard of ALL of this except for Michael Brown, whom I just heard about yesterday. I’d bet a-lot of people aren’t ignoring this….they just don’t know about it. WHY??? Who is controlling the narrative??!!!

  • http://stillsmallvoices.net Carolyn Hyppolite

    I was no noticing this very thing two nights ago. I wanted to blog about it. I regret not doing so. Twitter posts from people like Lee Strobel on Greek words, other trivia from white Christians. Laura Ingram was busy pointing out that protesters were using profanity. I went through several leading Christian magazines to see what they were talking about–not Ferguson. I am no longer a Christian, for many, many reason–one of them is the moral myopia of Christians, especially white ones. Over the years, I found that whenever I was concerned about a justice issue, I had to look to secular friends, voices, media for outlet. The only moral issue that most Christians seemed to care about is who is having the wrong kind of sex and abortion. Of course, there was always the annual Fox News panic over “war of Christmas.” Last year when I was feeling anger over injustice being done to whistle blower Bradley Manning, the shooting of Travon Martin, I could hear no Christian voices that echoed my sentiments. Pat Robertson informed us that thugs wear hoodies. Although I have many other reasons for doubting the existence of God, one of them was realizing that I was on the wrong team. I realized the glitter of Christian morality is not gold.

    • mxwp

      Well, really you are describing conservative, Republican, Evangelical Christianity… and not Christianity as a whole which people define in so many different ways.

      • VolvoDriver

        I wouldn’t even say conservative Christianity. Most of the extremely arrogant, hateful, judgmental Christians I know are liberal Christians.

    • VolvoDriver

      Look in the mirror for a long hard look at your own racism.

      • http://stillsmallvoices.net Carolyn Hyppolite

        Talking about race does not make one racist.

        • VolvoDriver

          Being hateful and derogatory toward people of another race DOES make one racist.

  • http://stillsmallvoices.net Carolyn Hyppolite

    P.S. All the times I have experienced overt racism was by someone I knew to be a Christian or in a part of America that boasts of its Christian credentials. Last year, I was driving through West Virginia, and where I was driving through, I noticed more Churches and crosses than I had ever seen anywhere in my life. I stopped at a McDonalds to get some food. I received blatant hate stares from the person in line, the person at a counter, and a woman dinning at the table. My white friend received the same hate stares. She commented on them independently. They were so obvious. In a previous era, I would have been lynched for walking into that eatery. We got out of there as quickly as possible. I got back on the highway and noticing all the crosses and churches as I drove through the state. I had just realized that I had lost my faith, perhaps, just a few weeks before. This was a confirmation that I had made the right call.

  • superhsu

    To the author: Since you said you were new to this… Just a note about the last tweet you promoted by Suey Park: Suey Park is an extremely polarizing Asian American Twitter activist. She’s most famous for starting hashtag movements (#NotYourAsianSidekick was the first big and probably most helpful one; the one about Colbert probably was not very helpful. And not that it necessarily matters, but she isn’t someone who typically identifies with Christianity as her own faith/religious identity; she may have Korean Christian background but presently I don’t think she self-identifies as Christian. Neither of those reasons means that her voice isn’t valid or helpful, but that in certain instances she’s been purposefully provocative in a way that doesn’t build constructive dialogue. Just a heads-up in case you end up seeing some very caustic Twitter activism on her part and then get backlash for it. I’m an Asian American campus minister who partners with Asian cultural organizations (both social and activistic/justice-oriented) and I don’t tend to promote her to stuff.

    • Danny Aguilar

      What is the point of your comment, @superhsu:disqus ? Do you think that David M. Schell is incapable of discernment? You presented your opinion about Suey Park as fact. That is, you claimed something to be true, that isn’t confirmed as truth. From your perspective she is polarizing. From your perspective, she has been “purposefully provocative;” yet, how have you been able to confirm her actual intentions behind her activism? Also, what is the point of bringing up her alleged lack of faith, if you even admit that “neither of those reasons means that her voice isn’t valid or helpful”? It seems you are trying to make excuses for doing something that you know is wrong, so you seem to insert these little caveats to indicate that you’re not just trying to bad-mouth her because you don’t like her.

      Finally, are you saying that because you are “an Asian American campus minister who partners with Asian cultural organizations…” that your opinion of Suey should be privileged?

      I fail to see how your comment “builds constructive dialogue.” You are tearing somebody down, i.e., attempting to discredit them to somebody else. Well, if that is what being a “Christian minister” is all about, then, I am glad that I no longer associate with Fundamentalist or Conservative Evangelical Christianity. …

      Gossip |ˈgäsəp| (noun): casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true: he became the subject of much local gossip.• chiefly derogatory a person who likes talking about other people’s private lives.

  • ebanna22

    Say it, David! I appreciate the honesty of this post. #truthtelling

    • VolvoDriver

      Honesty? This isn’t honesty – it’s pure stupidity.

  • jeffschultz

    There’s a lot of painful truth in this essay that needs to be heard, but I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who alleges the police in Ferguson killed a young man for no reason other than the color of his skin. There’s an ongoing investigation into Michael Brown’s death, which includes the fact that he’d robbed a store, was a suspect in that robbery when stopped by police, and struggled with the officer. None of that justifies what happened to him. But no serious or sane person believes a police officer killed Michael Brown for being black.

    Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy for everyone involved. You don’t do anyone any favors by throwing out inflammatory and baseless assertions. This past week I’ve had to listen to “leaders” talk about Michael being “assassinated,” being the victim of a “state execution,” and on and on. This helps no one, inflames tension and mistrust, and diminishes the credibility of people who resort to exactly the kind of lazy stereotyping they condemn in others.

    And if you took the time to investigate what’s going on in Ferguson, you’d see that both black and white Christians are too busy praying and working together, serving the community, and trying to help heal wounds to spend much time on Twitter, anyway. If you want to help Ferguson, come around and get your hands dirty with us.

    And I agree that Matt Walsh says ignorant things. So don’t join his club.

    • Danny Aguilar

      “I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who alleges the police in Ferguson killed a young man for no reason other than the color of his skin.” “But no serious or sane person believes a police officer killed Michael Brown for being black.”

      OF COURSE you would have a hard time believing a reality that you’ve never experienced or with which you have never cared enough to connect. Just because it seems crazy to you that racist and corrupt cops are a thing, it does not negate the reality that millions of black and brown people in segregated urban or suburban ghettoes experience everyday.

      Not to resort to “lazy stereotyping,” but I’m sure you’ll probably just brush this off as “ignorance,” @jeffschultz:disqus . Enjoy living in your white bubble, where you don’t have to be confronted with the brutal reality of America’s “original sin.” Peace.

      • jeffschultz

        Well, not to be rude, but your comment is ignorant, given that you don’t know me or my experience. There is deep-seated racism in America — in people of every color and creed. I share your justifiable anger at racist and corrupt cops. But that’s still a lot different from alleging that police kill people for being black. I don’t think that’s ignorance, I think it’s paranoia — one that’s in some measure understandable, given the long and sad history of racism in America. But it’s still a destructive paranoia that fuels disunity and hinders progress and reconciliation. I pray that you can look beyond your anger to see that cops in my community, though they may be racist, are not going around killing people for being black. And I pray you do find peace, love, and joy.

      • nickipicki123

        How can we know that this was an instance of racism? If a cop shoots and kills a black man, it is automatically racist according to many people in this country. How does that make sense?

      • VolvoDriver

        Thanks for your absurd racist rant, Danny.

  • JennaDeWitt

    This awesome, except it really depends on who you are following. Granted, most of my twitter feed is made up of RHE, Sarah Bessey, Kristen Howerton and similar prog evang bloggers, but judging from my feed, it seems like this has been a huge issue that nearly everyone has written about.

  • Kevin

    If you’re making comparisons, most of the Christians I know have been focussing on what has been happening in Iraq and Gaza rather than what has been happening in the USA. But I’m not sure the comparisons made in your article are helpful because the issues of church leadership and unjust killings are both very serious.

  • VolvoDriver

    Yet another racist diatribe. One of the single stupidest things I’ve ever read.