After a weekend of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, hundreds of Christians and hip-hop artist Lecrae gathered in Atlanta to call on churches and government leaders to ensure fair treatment and an end to racially-motivated crimes.
“Today, we are not here to talk about the protests,” shared Josh Clemons. co-director of the OneRace Movement, a Christian coalition that exists to “displace the spirit of racism and release a movement of racial reconciliation across Atlanta, the Southeast and the nation”, told the crowd. ”We are not here to talk about the riots. We are not here to talk about the looting. What we are here to talk about today is the injustice in our land … I think this is a moment for the Church, for you, for me to cry out: Enough is enough! It’s time for a change. It’s time for reform and it’s time for the Church to lead the way.”
Led by several Christian leaders and pastors, the coalition released The OneRace Statement on Righteousness and Justice: A call to end Racial Violence. “The Christian Community must engage this issue spiritually & civically,” the document reads. “This engagement must begin with understanding the deep history of racism in our nation, then owning that history as our collective spiritual responsibility, and then engaging in our spheres of influence constructively to change the story for future generations.”
“My burden [is] my mother marched in the ‘60s and ‘70s and protested these issues of systemic racism and injustice,” explained Christian hip-hop recording artist Lecrae. “She took me to my first march after Rodney King was unjustly beaten. I marched and protested in Ferguson for Mike Brown, … for Sandra Bland. Here we are four years later in the same situation doing the same thing. Something different has got to happen. There has to be a change.”
“I am all for the idea that the Gospel is what changes hearts. But the Gospel is both explicit and implicit,” Lecrae continued. “The Gospel is in the form of the cross. The cross is vertical but it is also horizontal. So there has got to be some horizontal implications in what you believe, taking action in your churches, in your communities and in your jobs.”
The new OneRace statement calls on Christians to “work to end racially-motivated acts of violence” by “voting in local elections for candidates that uphold our values of equity and dignity toward all races” and serving “in our communities across racial lines.”
The statement also encourages believers to “speak up and participate in nonviolent protest whenever we see the injustice that demands our attention,” and calls on elected officials to make changes to ensure that “laws are written and enforced in ways that are equitable towards all.”
“When legislation and enforcement enables one segment of the population to feel safe and another segment of the population to feel endangered, changes are necessary,” the statement adds.
Lecrae said the country needs to see “prayer,” “policy,” “programs,” “publicity” and “protest.”
“We need all of those pieces to that puzzle,” Lecrae said. “This is a system that has been set up from the inception for Black people to fail. Black people can’t tear down a system that we didn’t build. So it is important for my brothers and sisters in Christ to use their power and privilege to help tear down these evil infrastructures that hold us back … those are the implications of the Gospel. If we truly believe that, it is going to make us uncomfortable. The Gospel makes us uncomfortable. If we are truly living out our faith, it should make us uncomfortable.”