1) Exclaim that Love Wins. Love does not always win. People died on Saturday. Hate took the field and won. To say that love always wins denies the reality of human suffering and minimizes the pain of three families and countless others who were wounded. Love wins is a vapid platitude. It actually hurts. Don’t say it.
2) Pray for unity. We’ve been praying for unity since General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Even the most progressive of Civil Rights leaders now admit that the idea of a post-racial America was a myth. It’s time to stop praying for unity from the comfort of our largely white congregations and start working for unity with others who do not look like us. Praying for unity sounds good and it feels good. Then we go home. We post memes of solidarity. We weep at the violence. Our prayers lead us back to church and the vicious cycle of racism continues. It’s time to stop praying and start acting. Our vigils are poignant and our words are eloquent but the Nazis still came. We can do more and we can do better.
3) Fail to confront and confess the racism we aid, abet, and enable. I was trained in a divinity school that won’t come to terms that Robert E. Lee guards the front steps to Duke University’s chapel. That’s a racist legacy. The Divinity School is worried about diversity training among its faculty but won’t address the Civil War history engraved on its flagship church. I’ve inherited racism from family members who died for the Confederacy. I drive by the Confederate flag on my way to lead Christian worship because I’ve given up on a battle to see it removed from local shelves. I don’t want make to make waves in the community. Being a pastor means being uncomfortable and unpopular; sometimes with others and sometimes with yourself. I could go on and on. We’re all implicated to one degree or another. I’m confessing. It’s 2017 and I’m part of the problem. It’s me. It’s us.
4) Give hate groups any credit for sparking the next great American Reformation. If it takes Neo-Nazis and the Klan to motivate a new American church to form, count me out. That’s not a church, that’s a counter-fascist movement with religious roots. We may need that but don’t call it a church. We lose something of our own identity in trying to out Christian radical the Nazi radicals.