Why is the church silent on Confederate statues?
Dr. Leonard Edloe | 10/4/2018, 6 a.m.
For months, a discussion has gone on about Confederate statues in Richmond, while in some cities, a few even in the South, those statues have been taken down.
We have heard from many voices, however, not much from the Christian church in general and, more specifically, those churches in close proximity to the statues that line Monument Avenue.
A drive from the Boulevard, where the Stonewall Jackson monument stands, to Stuart Circle where J.E.B. Stuart sits on his horse, would carry you pass five Christian churches. A walk one block to the east would carry you to another church.
Why do I feel that these churches need to make a statement? Wasn’t slavery enacted and forced by the government?
Yes, it was. However, the Christian church provided divine endorsement of the institution of slavery.
The first Africans came to the United States as indentured servants, just like many others. Some were already Christians when they arrived, and others became Christians after their arrival.
English common law in 1619 stated that a slave who had been baptized was “enfranchised” or made free. Yet by 1650, slavery had become an accepted institution in this land. Slavery became acceptable because Eurocentric theology did not see Africans made in the image of God.
Verses in the Bible were both misinterpreted and perverted to enslave, negate and dehumanize the very descendants of the authors of the Bible.
The Bible’s description of slavery, which was the custom of the culture when the Bible was written, became prescriptive and ordained by God when it came to people of African descent.
As the abolitionist movement grew, the debate over the treatment and ownership of humans caused many of the denominations in 1845 to divide. Some of those denominational and theological splits still survive today.
A Christian pastor, Dr. Charles Minnigerode, was called upon to bless the dedication of the Richmond monument to Robert E. Lee — a monument like the others, dedicated to a cause to maintain a way of life where an entire race of people was sentenced to a life below the margins, full of pain that many animals did not have to endure.
Many people have become accustomed to the monuments. Many say that the monuments do not matter.
However, as long as they are allowed to stand, they give false testimony to the failings of not only a nation but to the faith based on the life of Jesus, who died to set all of humankind free.
The sight of these monuments and what really happened should have people running back into their sanctuaries after worship, crying out, “What must I do to be saved?”
It is time for all Christians, but especially the Christians who worship in the shadows of these statues, to open their mouths and take a stand against the wrongs committed both by our commonwealth and our faith.
The writer is a former Richmond pharmacy owner and now pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Hartfield in Middlesex County.