Movin On Up?

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,” -Romans 10:12 Today there are Christians and churches that don’t realize that the civil rights battle has been won! Both conservatives and liberals joined forces with Martin Luther King Jr. in his campaign for equal rights.  

What Dr. King wanted to see is to people to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. He didn’t want a welfare state, as the liberals did, but to have America live up to the equal protection clause of the constitution. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail was a response to the white clergy down south to explain why he was doing what he was doing.  

Dr. King delineated two other civil rights movements (I’ll paraphrase): 

    • The go along with the status quo. There were blacks down south who were satisfied, as they had some economic success and were, like George Jefferson, moving on up. He wrote that people who subscribe to this movement in the black community are “complacent.” 
  • Black Nationalism. This movement fostered hatred and bitterness. It was part of the hate America crowd. They repudiated Christianity and preached that the white man is an incurable devil.  

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf 

 Dr. King practiced non-violent protest to call attention to the injustice flung on the black community. He just wanted America to live up to our standards.  

When I was in the Navy, stationed in Charleston, S.C. in the early 70s, I witnessed the effects of Dr. King’s campaign. In town I befriended some black guys who were in the Navy a decade or two before I was. They shared anecdotes of racial prejudice, although none terribly severe. One of them asked me “what would your shipmates think if they knew you were hanging around with soul?” I replied, “They wouldn’t care. White and black guys go on liberty together all the time; it’s no big deal.”   “You have a good ship,” the guy responded.  

Of course we didn’t get rid of every spec of prejudice. There was an isolated incident on my ship. When I took my turn at mess cooking – slaving for the cooks – I had a minor disagreement with a black cook in the serving area. Just inside the eating area, some white southerners evidently overheard us. When I passed by them, one of them said “don’t take any s*** off that n*****.”  I snapped “That’s between me and Scotty.” And that was the end of it. 

The problem before was that blacks were considered bad just because they were black. But today, there’s an unwritten code that if you accuse a black person of wrongdoing, even if he’s guilty, you are judging all blacks. Take the shooting of thug Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.  There was an outcry of racism and that the cop shot Big Bad Michael Brown just because he was black. Not true. I can hear Tina Turner singing “What’s truth got to do with it got to do with it.” The Department of Justice concluded that the officer shot Brown in self-defense.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown 

Some churches are Afro-centric. We are all humans, Christians, period. Not Afro-Christians, not Russian Christians, not Korean Christians, not Hispanic Christians, not White Christians. 

Some black Christians not only give former President Barry Obama, aka the Skinny Socialist a pass but champion him. True, Obama’s election showed that our nation is not prejudice, but, as a Christian conservative friend said, “I would have rather seen Alan Keys” elected. 

In his concurrent opinion in Adarand Constructors v. Pena, where a company that submitted the lowest bid on a highway contract was not considered a certified business because it did not meet race-based subcontractor demands, challenged it in the Supreme court and won, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote “In my mind, government-sponsored racial discrimination based on benign prejudice is just as noxious as discrimination inspired by malicious prejudice. [*] In each instance, it is racial discrimination, plain and simple.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/515/200#writing-ZS 

Justice Antonin Scalia’s concurrent opinion in Adarand: in my view, government can never have a “compelling interest” in discriminating on the basis of race in order to “make up” for past racial discrimination in the opposite direction. 

Two wrongs don’t make a right. I remember hearing Justice Thomas referring to liberals as “camouflage rednecks.” After the Witch Hunt that attempted to cheat Clarence Thomas out of his U. S. Supreme Court nomination, he said the culprits of this hunt conducted “a high-tech lynching.” 

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.” -Romans 3:9 

A City Set On A Hill?

In his letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr beseeched the “moderate”, lukewarm white southern churches to join him in his campaign to secure equality for blacks. Dr. King’s argument was that discrimination against blacks is contrary to what America and the Bible is about.

Except for groups such as Black Lives Matter, racial prejudice today is on the ash heap of history. The homeless have become the new group to be discriminated against.  Over nearly three years I’ve witnessed discrimination against the homeless in Bucks County, PA. Recently, I saw discrimination in Burlington Township, New Jersey when I attended a meeting to address the concerns of neighbors of the proposed homeless housing site.

The neighbors weren’t there for a dialog but expressed anger about bringing people who need a place to stay, who will be screened and will live in a managed complex, into their community. In essence, they want to zone out homeless people, segregating them, as was the case during the Jim Crow south.

Begging the question, one opponent of the homeless housing plan asked what the Citizens Serving the Homeless, who orchestrated the plan,  is going to do when most of the people use drugs and some of them will either revert to drugs or go back out on the street. There is no evidence that the people slated for the housing are druggies.

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you known that our country has a drug epidemic. A short while ago, President Trump mentioned this, saying that people are taking drugs “like candy.” In fact, Levittownnow.com just reported on a panel addressing this: http://levittownnow.com/2017/02/16/local-experts-hold-panel-drug-addiction-lower-bucks-county/

The opponents of the homeless housing plan in New Jersey accused the architects of cherry picking the people they showed on the video – the kind who will be moving into their neighborhood. One of the three people who shot the footage messaged me on Facebook: “I can personally attest to the fact that the neighbors shown in the CSH video were not cherry picked. As a matter of fact, Andrew, Pastor Tom & I drove to several motels & the woods where we knew there were some homeless people living & simply interviewed everyone willing to speak with us. The video shows every single person we interviewed in two days, no one was left out.”

http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html

One opponent of the plan said that the people portrayed in the video – decent neighbors who need a place to stay, will not use the housing. Really?

Evidently, opponents of the plan to help the homeless start with a foregone conclusion and create a false narrative to win the argument and to camouflage their prejudice against the homeless.

Fortunately, the Church of the Nazarene, who, as the church’s head pastor explained at the meeting, has a “covenant” with Citizens Serving the Homeless to fulfill her Biblical mandate to serve others in need. The pastor said he expected flak from neighbors, but is adamant on doing God’s will, pressing on full steam with the plan to help the homeless.

Churches in Bucks County have also been ministering to the homeless, offering them food and clothing as well as spiritual guidance. At last night’s community meal, the pastor preached a mini-sermon, saying that God can help anybody, no matter your situation or what you have done. The hosts at the church made their guests feel welcome, greeting them and seeing them off, shaking hands. This is what the church should do.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  -Matthew 5:14-16

Birmingham and Levittown

In his letter from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr urged leaders of the white “moderate”, lukewarm churches to stand for justice against the oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow south. This is the case with the homeless in Bucks County, PA, where some churches, instead of standing up for the homeless, go along with the Bucks County establishment and view the homeless as second class citizens. In both cases, churches have taken the stance to go along in order to get along.

The church needs to stand on Biblical principles and influence the culture – be the salt in society.

In Bucks County, as was the case with blacks during the Jim Crow south, which by the way was under the influence of Democrats, the rights of the homeless are not respected. At the Levittown public library, there’s been a campaign to constructively remove the homeless from the library. Instead of standing up for the disadvantaged, as the Salvation Army did back in the day, the Salvation Army Levittown Community Center tacitly endorses this attitude. When the center’s public relations gal, The Countess of Carlisle butted into a conversation I was having with another volunteer about the harassment of the homeless, she Augustly stated that some people who visit the library don’t like the homeless being there and that the librarian is right for obliging her fellow elitists.

I disagreed. Consequently, the countess used her position to block an offer I had to write for the Salvation Army.

Between a member of The Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) and the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA, an injustice was committed when a guest came to the church’s community meal drunk. He verbally assaulted and physically threatened another guest and anyone who seemed to have a problem with his behavior, cursing up a storm. He was restrained by a few men in the church.

The police were called. Two members of AHTN walked with the attacker to the other end of the large room. When the police came, they told the victim to leave, at the host’s request. The next time the victim came to the meal, he was told he had to leave. The host reluctantly said it was because he was saying bad things about the homeless.

There was false witness going around about the victim, that he ratted out homeless campsites and was a pervert, a sexual predator. I don’t know what any member from AHTN told the host when they walked out of hearing range of the victim, but it’s bizarre that the victim, who showed total restraint under attack, was banned from the church. I believe that AHTN repeated lies about the victim and maybe embellished the false witness, making up more lies. The attacker must have heard what was said.

Interestingly, the authorities did not bring the drunk and disorderly attacker to the district court where the victim filed a lawsuit against Redeemer Lutheran Church and members of AHTN. He may have shed the light of truth on what was said to cause Redeemer to ban the victim from the meals. The court entered a default judgment against him but dismissed the case against Redeemer and AHTN.

AHTN protected the perpetrator out of self interest. They view the homeless as miscreants whom they don’t hold accountable, which keeps their non profit in business.

On one occasion, the Levittown librarian ordered the locks of bikes parked legally in the bike rack in the library cut because some homeless people had abandoned their bikes there. All the locks were cut, including those who had their bikes parked there during their stay at the library. Christine, one of the AHTN members who talked with the hosts at Redeemer Lutheran Church, met with the librarian. She reported to the homeless that Pat, the librarian, made an announcement for those with bikes parked there to come out so they wouldn’t have their locks cut. I learned from a reliable source that Pat never made an announcement, as the guy who told me was in the library the whole time.

In his letter, Dr King wrote of being in the middle of two different forces in the black community. One is complacent and just goes along with the status quo. The other force is bitter and hateful and breeds violence. These black nationalist groups are the forerunners of today’s militant groups, such as Black Lives Matter. Dr. King writes “It is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incurable devil.”

Some hold the same view in the homeless community. A homeless and a formerly homeless guy told me that because the homeless are oppressed and because of their situation, they have a reason to act like savages. I disagree.

MLK explained in his letter that the purpose of non violent protest is to call attention to injustice and bring people to the negotiating table. This is what a true advocate for the homeless did in Portland, Oregon. Consequently, Dignity Village, a community of tiny houses where some formerly homeless have administrative positions, was created.

What Bucks County needs is to call more attention to the homeless problem, and instead of pushing the homeless away, like the Democrats did the American Indian, respect the rights of the homeless and don’t quash even private efforts to house the homeless just because of a few bad apples. This is discrimination.

Some churches in Bucks County have been gracious to the homeless, feeding them, providing clothes, accepting, listening to and mentoring them. They need to do more of it!

We shall overcome!

Dr. King’s letter is lengthy, but, to borrow a phrase from a high school English teacher, it’s worth its weight in gold:

https://swap.stanford.edu/20141218230016/http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/popular_requests/frequentdocs/birmingham.pdf