KKK Rally in Columbia and Democracy and Christianity: How These Things Are Related

Posted: July 18, 2015 in Current Events

Democracy is tough stuff. Christianity is tough stuff.

I have been reading posts today that people say they are ashamed of South Carolina for allowing the KKK to have a rally in Columbia today. By no means to I support the agenda or the beliefs of the KKK, ok, so let’s get that straight.

But isn’t allowing them a permit to hold a rally where they express their putrid, warped view of life the very meaning of democracy. In a democracy, we do not pick and choose what voices can be heard. All voices can be heard and that must be preserved. Even if what a person has to say is so completely offensive to me, I must in a democracy allow him to say it. When government gets into the business of deciding what voices can be heard and which ones cannot we are on a slippery slope toward totalitarianism. Democracy is hard.

Andrew Shepard, the fictional president in the movie, the American President, said it best in his final speech of the movie when he said,

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

When we silence voices that do not agree with us, when we quiet the voices that are not popular, then we lose democracy. I do not agree with the KKK so I do not listen to their rhetoric. I do not agree with the KKK because of my Christian beliefs so I will not participate in one of their rallies. Their views even though cloaked at times in Christian rhetoric is clearly against Scripture where from the beginning of the Bible it indicates that each of us is made in God’s image. As a result, all humans regardless of race or religion or any other segregator that we devise is equally valuable in the eyes of our Creator. Clearly, the KKK does not get it. I do not agree with the KKK so I do not support candidates who have ties to the KKK. But to say the government is in the business of saying this group is OK but that one is not, then we no longer have a democracy. Reflect back to Andrew Shepard’s key speech component above.

What does this mean for me as a Christian? What does it mean for a Christian to live in a democracy? We should be thankful and should defend the democracy in which we live. Democracy is the form of government that Christians have yearned for through the centuries. In a democracy, we are free to express our beliefs and not be hindered by the government in living out our beliefs. That yearning is the very reason that Christian men established this country. The reason that Christian men established this country in the manner that they did is because it was considered an imperative that every person has a voice. Every person having a voice, having value as a result, is a reflection of each of us being made in God’s image. Even those whose beliefs are not aligned with Scripture still have value. They were made in God’s image. They have a voice. If we shut their voice down, we ensure that we cannot share the gospel. We ensure that we don’t make disciples. Even KKK members are made in God’s image. That is what the families of the Emmanuel 9 demostrated to us all. All of us sinners are made in God’s image. Let us never forget that. Do we write them off because they unrepentantly thwart and use the Word of God in ways that are obviously inconsistent with a consistent and true God? No, we do not.

We are all children of God even when we are shaking our fist at Him. To say that one does not deserve a voice ensures that they will continue to hold on to the beliefs that they hold. Democracy is the essence of God. He gives us free will. He gives us the democracy to shake our fist at Him. It is our job as Christians to point people to Jesus Christ. He condemned hyprocrisy of those who feigned allegiance to God but he never condemned those who did not truly understand and know God. He sat down with them and ate with them. He talked with them. He then showed them the truth of the gospel. How can you ever change the heart of Klan member if you write them off as pigs? How can you ever change the hearts of anyone who disagrees with you if you don’t encounter them with kindness? Changing hearts takes getting to know people. Changing hearts takes us going beyond just those who walk in lock step with us.

Therein lies the congruence of Christianity and democracy. Democracy demands that all voices be allowed to speak even when those views are radically different from our own. Christianity demands that we love people whose views are radically different from ours. Maybe we should modify fictional President Andrew Shepherd’s words,

“Christianity isn’t easy. Being a Christ follower is advanced humility. You’ve gotta want people to find Christ bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want everyone to be a Christ follower? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which is obviously against His Word while you have spent a lifetime living by it.”

For democracy to survive, we must allow all voices to be heard even those that are diametrically opposed to what I believe in. In democracy, what is best for the nation results from those open discussions of diametrically opposed ideas. In democracy, the common good comes from recognizing that other’s opinions must be dealt with. When we silence those we have ideas that are not mainstream, are not the idea of the generation, are not the favored opinion, we divorce ourselves from democracy.

For Christianity to survive, we must not throw away those whose beliefs are fist shaking in God’s face. We must recognize they are children of God. We must recognize they are God’s creation. We must recognize that we cannot write them off. We must recognize that their soul is more important than their current views. We must recognize the common good is more people finding Jesus Christ. We must not silence their opinion. We were once in total rebellion against God before we met Jesus. We must accomplish God’s mission not ours. We must love them into finding Jesus.

Democracy is tough stuff. Being a Christ follower is tough stuff.

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