The nature of prejudice is pondered by Chicago pastor and Resurrection Band frontman GLENN KAISER.
The following was written in much prayer, and at a rare time when I was totally unaware of the news of the UK and Ireland. I arrived home within an hour of writing it as the announcement was broadcast about the verbal agreement of most parties in Northern Ireland to try for a lasting peace. Interesting, as I had truly wondered if I should post this article to Cross Rhythms in the first place.)
I am convinced that one of the sins basic to most human beings is prejudice. The Latin word "prejudicium" is the root of the English word, and it simply means not having enough information to judge. This is why one hears mention of "ignorance" whenever a deeper consideration of bigotry takes place. But we all know that there is something more sinister, a "choice factor", a deep-seated insecurity/arrogance at the centre of the issue, and this is not so pleasant to discuss.
The American Civil War had much to do with a national conscience heightened by the slavery issue. There were several other foundation stones to the conflict, but this most terrible of all wars fought on US soil between brother and brother; father and son certainly had come about largely due to prejudice about race, culture, local versus national rights and more. The further one examines the roots of the War Between The States, the clearer it becomes: prejudice and power were the central concerns.
While one can always make an argument for exercising one's basic human/political rights, it is apparent that neither the love of Jesus Christ nor respect for the authority of the truth of the Bible were central to the dispute that killed more US citizens than any other conflict in the country's history. It is far too simplistic to relate issues of the American Civil War in any direct fashion to UK/Irish strife (with regard to Northern Ireland) but is it not a fact that certain elements of the current conflict have much to do with many generations of strife based more on ignorance and bigotry than any other single point of personal reference?
For all the wonderful and blessed changes in South Africa, does not the same fact hold there in many respects, even to this day? I am convinced that prejudice is best linked with rape when considering the implications of one person or group violating the conscience of another. I am further convinced that serious commitment to the Person and Word of Jesus is the only ultimate solution to genuine peace with real respect for one's neighbour, regardless of the other legitimate issues of conflict.
I am further convinced that when the Church decides that either silence or prejudiced attacks offer viable solutions to conflict, it adds to confusion and actual escalation of conflict.
Ireland is certainly an example of at least two things in this regard: that of bigoted Christians who may shockingly find one day that the God they supposedly served was the one in the mirror draped in a flag of selfishness...and the other, praise God, that there are genuine followers of Jesus on both "sides" who have learned that love, forgiveness, mutual respect and sharing of basic concerns for family and daily life are far more important than borders built on hatred, fear and literal or culture racism.
We must continue to pray that Godly Christians will stand together (as many thousands have in both the UK and Ireland) to renounce this evil, for reconciliation must be based on the heart, not spiritual or any other sort of bigotry. While some will call for a "religious purity" on either Protestant or Catholic side, I think the deeper truth is that Jesus has little to do with what some of them consider "pure religion". James clarifies what such a thing really is, and the extremists in both camps have offered little to nothing on that score! The ignorant, bigoted and unforgiving from both quarters have certainly CREATED both "Protestant" AND "Catholic" widows and orphans in Ireland. But as always, the Lord has the last word:
"This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of (our) God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, (and) to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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