Culture

Racism Is a Spiritual Issue, and All Lives Matter

A message reading "All Lives Matter" is written on the pavement as police in riot gear cast shadows while standing in line ahead of a curfew Friday, May 1, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Black lives do matter. White lives matter. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and atheists’ lives matter, as do the lives of both liberals and conservatives. Humans are created in the Divine Image (Gen. 1:26) and the Talmud teaches: “Anyone who destroys a human life is considered as if he had destroyed an entire world, and anyone who preserves a human life is considered as if he had preserved an entire world” (Sanhedrin 37a). Racism of any sort is a spiritual issue, not a political one. If I truly recognize the Divinity that created a human being, it becomes impossible for me to pre-judge them based on the color of their skin, their religion, political affiliation, or their culture.

What happened to George Floyd is a horrific tragedy, and any instance of racism, especially by authorities, is a wrong that must be corrected. As Albert Einstein poetically said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” But Einstein’s statement goes in both directions.

The death of Floyd is a tragedy, but it is not any sort of justification for the behavior that has resulted from it. It does not justify the killing of police officers, the riots and lootings, the pillaging of businesses, the theft, or any of the horrors of the mobs that are attacking the fabric of our nation. Peaceful protesting is protected by the Constitution and is additionally a biblical imperative based in the quotes from Deut. 16:20 of “Justice, justice shall thou pursue” and Isaiah 1:17 to “seek justice” among others.

But these demonstrations have nothing to do with the pursuit of justice.

George Floyd horrifically died at the knee of a police officer who has been arrested for his actions. To base the riots and destructions on this terrible action is not only illogical, it is an affront to any sense of real justice. But there is much more going on with these planned demonstrations than a pursuit of justice.

“Black Lives Matter” is not only a rallying cry. It, along with its affiliate groups such as the Movement for Black Lives, are the names of some of the most hate-filled organizations on the political stage today. Coalesced in 2014 (long before President Trump, so he cannot be blamed in any way), BLM released its official platform in August of 2016 with a hate-filled manifesto that goes beyond the spectrum of local or even national responses to racism, and includes “demands” on a global level. Based on this manifesto, this “grassroots organization” raised over $100 million from liberal foundations.

But this manifesto is filled with hate and racism for everyone and anything not “black.” It espouses hatred and demands retribution for all things not “black” enough: conservatives, whites, governments, and businesses. This platform led to BLM being taken to task for condemning Israel as an apartheid nation committing genocide, among other absurd claims, and refused to retract or change any of their hate-filled demands. Although never retracted, the organizers of BLM eventually realized that their hate-filled doctrine was detrimental to their fundraising, and removed all references to their platform from their public website, although through a deep dive on the web the global demands of the document can be seen here. This doctrine of hate by BLM has never been retracted nor changed, and is still the underlying premise which results in their violent and destructive actions.

Even a brief look at their manifesto shows that these recent riots should be no surprise. Although they rightly condemn some of the institutionalized racism found in society, they are an organization devoted to hate and devastation. They openly claim to be “black-centric,” and they consciously ignore any other form of prejudice that must be battled. Manifesting the words of the BLM platform into action, in the last few days synagogues have been desecrated with obscenities and threats to all Jews, businesses (including black-owned businesses) have been destroyed, and people have been killed.

According to the Washington Post, which has kept a database of all police shootings since 2015, fifteen unarmed black men and women nationwide were killed by police in 2019. This is a true tragedy, and a figure that must be changed. Even one wrongful death is one too many, and every person of faith has an obligation to fight against attitudes and behavior that led to these tragedies. That being said, let us compare the wrongs they are violently protesting with other similar injustices that need to be corrected but have been ignored by BLM. Wrongs that never led to violent protests, let alone riots like we are seeing.

In 2019, 147 police officers died in the line of duty. These recent riots have exposed hundreds of thousands of people to COVID-19, and it will be months before we know how many people die as a result of these riots. Worldwide, 11 Christians are killed every day for the practice of their religion.

And then there are the Jews. Persecuted with pogroms, institutionalized killings, and governmental persecutions for thousands of years, they have been accused of being in league with Satan, having horns, and drinking blood. Ultimately, anti-Semitic hatred led to the death of six million Jews in the Holocaust for no other reason than a racist hatred. And it continues not only with institutionalized anti-Semitism but with tragedies such as the recent synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, which together killed 12 Jews who were praying in their houses of worship.

One hundred forty-seven police, thousands of Christians, 12 Jews in two days. But while thousands protest and riot under the umbrella of BLM, and BLM and protestors “demand” justice for George Floyd in the form of bowing on knees, looting businesses, and eliminating police forces—while government officials bend and grovel for forgiveness for any prejudicial actions against blacks—these other groups who have been wronged have used peaceful and productive dialogue to achieve real changes such as getting anti-Semitism labeled as a hate crime and included in Title VI protection But Black Lives Matter and their affiliated groups have remained entirely and deathly silent on any of these tragic killings of other people.

Think for a moment about the lack of parity. Twelve unarmed Jews massacred while praying in a single year received speeches. Thousands of Christians praying or 147 police killed in the line of duty prompt articles and more speeches. Thirteen unarmed black deaths spark riots and destruction.

All of these acts of hate need to be protested and stopped. There is no question that George Floyd’s death is a tragedy. And so are the deaths of the police, Christians, and Jews who have been victims of terrible hate crimes. But not through riots and destruction. People of faith need to effect change through dialogue and peaceful action, not more hate and destruction. Hate can never be defeated with more hate. Only with love can peace and justice be accomplished.

The Bible teaches us how God hardens and softens the heart of Pharaoh, leading to the Exodus from Egypt. God could have softened Pharaoh’s heart without the 10 plagues, but both Pharoah and the ancient Hebrews needed to be ready to let God into their hearts before freedom could be experienced. As long as there is hate in the heart, real peace can never be achieved.

Decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King had a famous relationship with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. They spoke, peacefully marched, and most importantly prayed together to achieve civil rights in this nation. Their relationship, which began at an interfaith conference in 1963, was based on their shared understanding that peace and justice are spiritual issues, and must be pursued through spiritual means. They understood that an “enemy” is only a potential “friend” that you do not yet know.

Racism and hate of any kind is a spiritual issue: an issue of the soul and heart. People who support stopping racism need to realize this, and break away from associating with any group like BLM that promotes hate. We must all close our hearts to hate as we strive to pursue justice, and replace that hate with respect and love for righteous actions, mercy, and kindness.

May we all be blessed to see a speedy end to these hate-filled riots, and experience a true peace between each other based on the opening of our hearts through love.