So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle… If there is no struggle there is no progress.”
Ride on King Jesus, ride on
No man shall hinder me
* * *
It seems what angers white Evangelicals the most is being called racist and bothering their stuff. I’ve observed this closely while attending a white Evangelical church where an interesting, presumptive stance was taken about me. Since I was a friendly, college-educated, black woman married to a white clergyman, I was already out of their realm of what’s (stereo)typical about black people. I became qualified, though, because they presumed I was Republican. After all, I was there with my white, preacher husband. They presumed I separated my blackness from the type of blackness that would riot in the streets and loot the stuff of God’s favor. They presumed I was an exceptional black person, assimilated into their Christo-American ideology, on the Right side of Christianity. For two years I remained silent and subject to comments indicating their presuppositions about me, comments like, “The problem is all the black Democrats moving here. I’ve never seen so many black people and Muslims before!” I knew my time with them was coming to an end.
During this year’s protests, riots, and looting in the fight for racial justice, I am reminded of one of Christ’s own radical approaches to liberating the oppressed. When Jesus arrived at the temple, the stench of exploiting the poor and oppressing the disenfranchised was thick in the air. That’s what set him off. He busted up the joint! Even the small, overpriced, sacrificial birds were liberated as they took high flight from the chaos that sprung the locks on their little cages. Jesus harnessed the emotion and rage that fueled his strength to “turn that mother out!” Jesus rioted in the temple. As Douglass warned, no liberation comes without revolution. Not even Jesus was an exception.
At the end of our time in the white Evangelical church, the dividing question was, “Do you support looting?” Well, what exactly do you mean by looting? Symbolically taking back what was stolen from us? A scream from a voice silenced for generations?
What I know is oppression won’t yield by itself. It won’t relinquish its hold on the necks of the lives that sustain economic profit. Oppression won’t stop buying, selling, using, then killing us. We must pry oppression loose. For that work, I offer Christ as chief rioter and master looter—a protest leader who steps up to the mic to speak dividing truths. I understand what Christ probably understood in that instance of justice-fueled fury. Oppression neither reveres God nor regards God’s people. Grab your whip, find your battle hymn, and harness your righteous fury!
Crystal and her husband Thomas Patrick are discerning the times and building a race and liberation-awareness ministry together. Crystal uses her writing and speaking to raise awareness of the Evangelical Church as an American system rife with anti-blackness, but wholly redeemable. Find her on LinkedIn.