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Are we neutral?
by Estee in , ,

I'm reading a book for class called "Black Theology and Black Power" by James Cone. It was written in the 60s and includes a large section critiquing the white church's response to slavery, segregation and civil rights. Cone is adamant that white churches remained neutral on all these topics and were useless in securing rights for black people. At many points in his argument, I wanted to say, no! Not the United Methodist Church! But everytime I felt this way, Cone rebuffed me.

For example, he wrote about how Methodist ministers held slaves in the 1800s. He even gives a scary statistic: in 1844, 200 Methodist traveling preachers owned 1,600 slaves. He writes that this alone indicates the white Methodist Church's tolerance and propagation of the slave system. When I read this, I said to myself, "Yes, but that was the southern Methodist Church. The church split on this issue and the northern Methodist Church (called the Methodist Episcopal Church) did not tolerate slavery.

And then Cone came back at me with the fact that at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philidelphia, a church I visited two years ago and have a picture of on my desk, they pulled a group of black men from their knees as they knelt in prayer at the altar and kicked them out of the church. Yikes.

This and other examples have made me seriously ponder the United Methodist Church's position today. The civil rights movement is in our past and we think we are living in a society of racial equality. But, do we continue to remain neutral and silent on the issue of race relations? Are we truly advocates for social justice, or are we content to maintain the status quo? And especially on the current topic of healthcare, are we doing anything to advocate for those who are voiceless, for those who are oppressed by the current system?


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