Our top 5 commonly asked questions on black lives matter:
- What does Black lives matter mean?
- Is BLM a socialist, anti-Christian movement?
- Why is all lives matter not appropriate?
- How can I engage with organizations that have different values then my own?
- How can I help?
Sunday to Saturday: Black lives matter is a hashtag, a slogan, and an organization. Depending on which a person is talking and how they seem themselves within each iteration dictates the definition of Black lives matter. From a Christian point of view we believe Black lives matter is appropriate and should be said unequivocally. We should use the power of discernment and faithfully dig into what a person is talking about choosing to chew on the meat and spit out the bones.
“It is a commitment to courageous and prophetic honesty about the plight of the Black community, and a call to defend the dignity of our Black brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, wherever their lives and dignity are threatened or diminished. However, commitment to the truth that Black lives matter does not automatically commit one to any particular set of proposed policies or reforms. On the question of what to do about the truth that Black lives are under threat, there is room for disagreement and debate. Commitment to the truth that Black lives matter should be taken as beginning the conversation rather than foreclosing it.” David Williams, (January 13, 2016), Black Lives Matter: The Hashtag, the Movement, the Network and the Truth, https://10000places.com/2016/01/13/black-lives-matter-the-hashtag-the-movement-the-network-and-the-truth/
“When you hear (black lives matter) you are hearing this: that I am worthy and I am valuable. Its parallel to what happened in the sixties with the I am a man campaign with the union strikes in Memphis, Tennessee. That them saying that they were men didn’t mean that other people weren’t men, it was as a society for the last five to six hundred years that had not treated (black men) with equity, with the actual value of being a man…so they had to proclaim for themselves, “No, I am a man.” The moment we can engage it from that historical perspective a lot of the anger that rises up when we hear (black lives matter), and that defensiveness and deflection it causes it (people) to go, ‘You’re right, you do matter.'” BJ Thompson, “Why Black Lives Matter – BJ Thompson” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 18 September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33hjKhAF9O4
“People feel the reason to need to say black lives matter because in the history of our country the overwhelming message that has been sent is that they don’t. From the very beginning even down to what is written in our documents that we are three-fifths human in terms of how to count black people. The sentiment black lives matter is a necessary one.” Trip Lee. “Why ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Trip Lee” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 26 July 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuPhb1HBJkk
“The affirmation of black lives matter is just a simple nod to say, they are made in the image of God…and that we recognize there have been some heinous acts and it seems to be continuously directed towards a certain type of people and we need to address this.” Sho Baraka. “How to Think About ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Sho Baraka” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 8 September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_dzOVoW92c
Sunday to Saturday: It depends on whether you are talking about the slogan, the hashtag or the organization. The slogan nor the hashtag is not socialist nor is it anti-Christian. Just like anything in our fallen world it has good and bad people supporting it. As for the organization, there are those within BLM that promote socialist and anti-Christian values as well as those that do not promote socialist and anti-Christian values. This is where we have to use the power of discernment and perhaps be cobelligerents with the BLM organization (see question 4 below).
“Some iterations of #BLM reject the enemy-love tradition embodied by Martin Luther King, Jr. ― but, again, why should this undercut Christian support for these movements? Is there a principle that one cannot support any movement that includes policies with which one disagrees? Most conservative Christians who object to #BLM on such grounds do not similarly object to supporting a national political party, even though there is no national political party whose policy commitments are consistent with Christian teaching.” Kent Dunnington and Ben Wayman, “How Christians should – and should not – respond to Black Lives Matter” ABC Religion & Ethics, 3 June 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/how-should-christians-respond-to-black-lives-matter/11173976
“The movement in general is a very secular movement. They openly talk about their disconnection from the church…and some of them are very valid, but the other thing is they tie themselves very closely to the LGBT community. I do believe they deserve rights, but to tie that so closely to the Civil Rights struggle is very problematic. There are things that do concern me but at the end of the day I think anybody who has a biblical precedent in their life should not feel like black lives matter is an offensive term.” Sho Baraka. “How to Think About ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Sho Baraka” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 8 September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_dzOVoW92c
Sunday to Saturday: It ignores the consistent, brutal, historic and current treatment of black bodies in America. Oftentimes, the all lives matter statement serves as an ignorant rebuttal and deflection of the real issue at hand – a prejudice and mistreatment of Black bodies throughout American history.
“The ‘All Lives Matter’ rejoinder to #BLM misses the point so egregiously it appears to be disingenuous. Of course all lives matter, but #BLM attempts to draw attention to the fact that black people in this country have been historically and systematically excluded from that ‘all.’ #BLM makes the point that, although all lives matter in theory, black lives do not appear actually to matter as much as white lives do in the United States.” Kent Dunnington and Ben Wayman, “How Christians should – and should not – respond to Black Lives Matter” ABC Religion & Ethics, 3 June 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/how-should-christians-respond-to-black-lives-matter/11173976
“Before white evangelicals can authentically declare to marginalized people groups that Jesus died for all, that all lives matter, that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, we will need first to (a) acknowledge the social injustices of the world in which we live, (b) hear the experiences of our black brothers and sisters in Christ, and (c) do what we can to address these issues in both public and private settings.” Joe Hellerman (June 12, 2020), Black lives matter or all lives matter?, https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2020/black-lives-matter-or-all-lives-matter
“It is ignorant, disrespectful, and a benefit of privilege to dismiss cries of “Black Lives Matter” by firing back “All Lives Matter” without acknowledging that, in some sections of our society and throughout most of our history, black lives have not mattered.” Joe Forrest, “Waking Up: Christianity, White Privilege, and the Dark Side of American History” Instrument of Mercy, 15 August 2018. https://instrumentofmercy.com/2018/08/15/white-privilege/
“We see people pushing back against the notion of Black Lives Matter with white lives matter, blue lives matter…and that is to completely miss the point that the long history and the long narrative…is one of consistently saying pervasively through the social institutions and structures and morae’s that black lives don’t matter. And I think fundamentally that we have to understand that all lives won’t matter until black lives matter.” Thabiti Anyabwile, “Why People Push Back on ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Thabiti Anyabwile” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 16 August 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsNbNlJvGpw
Sunday to Saturday: The guidance from the authors of Compassion (&) Conviction say it the best on pages 69-72. They list seven steps to cultivate healthy relationships. Be sure to buy the book so you can read their explanation of each step.
- Be confident in your identity in Christ.
- Get to know your partners and understand their endgame,
- Identify the objective and shared values.
- Identify differences and conflicting views.
- Don’t isolate the issue
- Don’t take on your partner’s identity.
- Protect against losing your identity through active critique
“First, that Christians decisively dedicate their “lives to the cause of Christ” as others are committed to their cause; second, that we exercise “wise restraint and calm reasonableness” in what we critique and what we affirm; and, finally, that our justice efforts be clearly directed through the church.” Kent Dunnington and Ben Wayman, “How Christians should – and should not – respond to Black Lives Matter” ABC Religion & Ethics, 3 June 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/how-should-christians-respond-to-black-lives-matter/11173976
“We concern (ourselves) with association a little too much as if me associating with something nullifies the fact that I love Jesus Christ. We associate with Democratic parties, we associate with the Republican party and they perpetuate things that are not biblical. So, the reason why I would not have a problem being part of a black lives movement rally is because I recognize that they are following the basic tenants of that people are made in the image of God.” Sho Baraka. “How to Think About ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Sho Baraka” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 8 September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_dzOVoW92c
Sunday to Saturday: Educate yourself. Lament. Pray. This is what Sunday to Saturday is attempting to facilitate. See our framework for a pathway to engagement. Don’t hesitate to say black lives matter and that you are saying that from a distinctly Christian lens.
“The church must recover its revolutionary witness that God in Christ has come to overthrow every earthly kingdom. Christians should never be surprised to find that the world and church are in need of repentance and reform. God’s restorative action is needed every day in every way. The church should accordingly welcome the witness of #BLM and other social movements that put a spotlight on truths the church has forgotten, neglected and, in some cases, outright denied.” Kent Dunnington and Ben Wayman, “How Christians should – and should not – respond to Black Lives Matter” ABC Religion & Ethics, 3 June 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/how-should-christians-respond-to-black-lives-matter/11173976
“I think we can do a better job if we listen to one another a little bit better and stop assuming and stop throwing one another into boxes. Then we can actually have a conversation where I can learn from you from what you are saying and you can learn from and what we are saying and if we understand one another’s burdens then we can love one another better.” Trip Lee. “Why ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Trip Lee” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 26 July 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuPhb1HBJkk
“We have the opportunity to name a very specific sin in the church’s history and our country’s history. And it would be more to our detriment not to get specific. I think that if you believe that black people are equal. If you believe that justice and equity comes from not forcing people to assimilate to one culture. To assimilate to one race. If you believe the church can truly be diverse then it is racist to not say black lives matter. We do ourselves a disservice in demanding the comfort of lumping us all into one because then you don’t get to see how beautiful and colorful we really are. The God who made a colorful creation on this earth is the same God who made all of the native tribes, and tongues and skin colors, and languages and he rejoices in the creation he made.” Michelle Higgins, “On Black Lives Matter – Michelle Higgins” YouTube, uploaded by VergeNetwork, 24 September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZFi4kuywy0
More curated resources on Black Lives Matter:
As a Christian do you want to know why we should unequivocally proclaim that Black lives matter? Do you want to know how to engage with the Black Lives Matter movement as a Christian? Or do you want to learn what Black Lives is? We have got you covered in our learning capsule.
In the first video Truth’s Table podcast co-host Ekemini Uwan explains why Christians should care about #BlackLivesMatter before addressing Christians who have apprehension with aligning themselves with the black lives matter movement in the second video.
Pastor Rasool Berry (The Bridge Church | Brooklyn, NY) provides answers to common critiques about the church being involved in justice and partnering with non-Christian causes. He adeptly points out that some churches have always been involved in justice and the many ways in which we use secular theories, but reject the parts that don’t align with our faith. He concludes his 9-minute talk with what we can do about it.