Posts Tagged ‘racism’

On the Side of the Muslims

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

My last post might have been interpreted as being anti-Muslim. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that prejudice against Islam is somehow acceptable. Prominent Muslim leaders are often the target of such prejudice, and we Christians should defend them against such attacks.

Which brings us tragically to New Zealand, and how a climate of anti-Muslim sentiment can breed horrendous violence. Of course, there was just one fanatic who killed. But it took a village to raise him up, and a culture and social media that freely allow hate speech can’t escape blame.

Christians have to stand up against this anti-religious speech, however mild or casual or common it might be. And we also have to denounce anti-religious speech that is also racist and supremacist.

It’s often hard to determine “what would Jesus do.” In this case–in this Western culture–it isn’t. —J. Douglas Ousley

Rebranding Jesus

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

The recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church enthusiastically endorsed the Presiding Bishop’s priorities of evangelism, racial reconciliation, and care for the earth.

While these priorities are uncontroversial, they are very different. Dealing with racism and the environment will take years of effort and are social issues for non-Christians as well as Christians. Evangelism, on the other hand, is a pressing need specifically for Episcopalians whose ranks have been declining for decades. And if our evangelism isn’t successful, there won’t be any church to care for the environment or work for racial harmony.

Episcopalians have always found it easier to start a social program than to convince people to join their church. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is pushing the idea that we are members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Whether that rebranding will help us to add to our rolls remains to be seen. —J. Douglas Ousley

“Active Shooter Resources”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“Active Shooter Resources” was an item in a PowerPoint presentation at a conference I attended yesterday at NYPD Headquarters, One Police Plaza.

The meeting was called by Commissioner William Bratton; participating were Clergy Liaisons and other religious leaders from the five boroughs. (I was invited because I am a Liaison for our 17th Precinct.) The huge auditorium was filled to the brim for this unprecedented “All-In” clergy gathering. Many speakers from the Police Department, including Commissioner Bratton, presented the many new initiatives and programs now underway. Mayor De Blasio closed the conference with assurances that he is dedicated to preserving the safety of New Yorkers.

I would categorize the conference’s concerns as mainly relating either to the racial divide between police and persons of color or to the dangers of terrorism. The NYPD is addressing the former issue by forming a “Community Partner Program.” Every officer in a given precinct, instead of being on duty in the area at-large will be assigned to a particular neighborhood. This change should help police to become more familiar with the residents of the area they serve.

Two disturbing videos dealt with the second issue of terrorism. One film told how to recognize a young person becoming radicalized (watch for changes in behavior); the other video showed what to do if an active shooter/terrorist enters your building (Run if possible, if not possible, Hide; if you can’t run or hide, Resist.) Clergy were urged to arrange to show these videos to their congregations.

All in all, I was happy that the police were trying to tackle the problem of racism in some policing. But I was sad to think that we religious leaders should actually be prepared to deal with active shooters. God help us all. —J. Douglas Ousley



Diversity Disappointment

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

A recent Pew Research Poll ranks 31 American religious groups according to their racial diversity. The Episcopal Church ranks 25 out of 31.

After decades of emphasizing racial inclusiveness and affirmative action appointments, it must surely disappointing to church leaders that our church remains overwhelmingly white. Only 4% black and 2% Latino. Asians barely register.

This is not true in our diocese–or in our parish, for example; both would be higher, though I don’t know the actual numbers. But the national data suggest that simply appointing or electing non-whites to high office will not itself bring rank-and-file people of color into our congregations.

I don’t have any new and bright ideas. It’s interesting, though, that the most diverse denominations–such as Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholics–emphasize religion and faith over outreach and politics. —J. Douglas Ousley

Makes the Heart Glad

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Among the famous buildings near Incarnation is Madison Square Garden. I was walking by there last week as a throng of college students in caps and gowns emerged with their families from what must have been a degree-awarding ceremony.

Although the diversity of the graduates was predictable–a number of different national backgrounds were represented, for instance–it was still touching to see them all. America really is the land of opportunity, and with all the media attention to racial prejudice, it was heartening to see the representatives of many peoples and nations as they prepared to contribute to our common future. —J. Douglas Ousley

Racism in America

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I recently attended a two day course sponsored by the Anti-Racism Committee of the Diocese of New York. The course is mandatory for all clergy serving in the diocese.

While the leaders couldn’t have been nicer, there wasn’t much historical material presented that was new to me. I was also troubled by one of the trainer’s assertion, that most Americans believed that to be truly American, one had to be white.

I really hope this isn’t the case, though as a white person, I’m not the best judge. But whatever the merits of this kind of “training,” religious people have to acknowledge that there is still a problem of racism in our nation. —J. Douglas Ousley