The Christian majority in America needs to shake off its malaise and work with Black pastors to end shooting violence.
Chicago might be a strange perch from which to write this appeal for gun reform. After all, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently invoked that well-established dog whistle and the refuge of Republican politicians and many of their Christian supporters: the deaths of Black kids due to gun violence in Chicago. For them, my city is proof positive that gun laws don’t work.
But here I sit, as one of Chicago’s young pastors at one of its most historic Black churches, bidding for a favorable response from the larger, politically dominant, white evangelical denominations in America.
I write to them because these denominations, like the Southern Baptist Convention, are politically influential in states with senators who could, if pressured by their base, be moved to act. They have swung elections in the past, when issues important to them drove them to the ballot box. These senators and representatives might not listen to a Black pastor in Chicago, but they will listen to a cluster of white pastors in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.
I am not the first Black pastor to appeal to the white Christian majority to shake off their malaise and address pressing issues of justice. Martin Luther King Jr. made a similar appeal in 1963 from another unlikely place: a Birmingham jail. The issues are different, but the admonition is the same. There must be some white Christians of goodwill who sense that something is terribly wrong with gun violence among the children in our nation.
About 30 years ago, The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) began an aggressive recruitment of young Black clergy. Their seminaries sought young Black aspiring ministers who had no direct experience with the troubled racial history of their denomination. …