Why do bigots hide behind the Bible?

Lincoln's second inaugural


Don’t jump me too fast on this one.

The Bible is a book I have read, loved and admired my whole life.

That’s why I hate to see bigots use it to support a racist agenda.

Those of you who did not grow up in the South in the 1950s and 60s may not realize how often racists quoted scripture in defense of their beliefs.

I remember it.

I sat in church pews and heard preachers who knew better support the separation of the races on biblical grounds.

Genesis Chapter 8 for instance.

According to one of my pastors, a man who held a doctorate in biblical studies from a Southern Baptist seminary, the sons of Noah represented different races and were proof that God, in His infinite wisdom, preferred for their descendants to remain in their own places, not co-mingled with the descendants of their brothers.

Or take the book of Ephesians.

 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth.

Can you imagine how many sermons took that text as their subject?  How many preachers stood in Christian pulpits and declared slavery the will of God?

Abraham Lincoln, a man some consider the greatest theologian of the nineteenth century, recognized such corruption of faith for what it was.  As he said in his Second Inaugural Address:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

It’s hard to add anything of value to Mr. Lincoln’s remarks.

But today, as we read, hear and observe that racism in American society continues to strangle and polarize us, we do well to consider the biblical teachings Jesus said were the only two that mattered.

Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

I’ve never seen a bigot hide behind those tenets.

There is no hiding room.




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