Sept. 19, 2013
This week's story out of the University of Alabama about what apparently are racially segregated sororities and fraternities at that institution has left this bona fide and perhaps naive Yankee a bit stunned. The Crimson Tide's "Greek system remains segregated," according to university president Dr. Judy L. Bonner. News reports note that pressure to keep the Greeks segregated comes, in part, from alumni. Many of them are, one can assume, parents of the current pledges.
In the era of "The Blind Side" and the presidency of a man of color, the notion that this kind of thing could happen seems remarkable. Yet old bigotries die hard, old stereotypes are difficult to break, and old ignorance resists the freshness of truth.
Racism is a sin against God: "The God who made the world and all things in it ... He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:24-28). If every human being is made in the image and likeness of his or her Creator, every person possesses the dignity of equal and great value before Him. Unless the dictionary recently has been creatively edited, "every" is an encompassing term, inclusive of all of that to which it refers.
Every square has edges. Every beach has water. And every race and ethnicity is equally loved and prized by the Lord of the universe.
Racism is also unpatriotic at the most fundamental level. Abraham Lincoln called human equality "the central idea" of the American republic: Our Creator has endowed each individual with rights from which he or she, by virtue of being human, cannot be alienated. This argument animated the Revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Profoundly unrealized for generations of slaves and imperfectly realized for many of their ancestors and others, it remains our country's salient contribution to the eternal contest for human dignity. It is what makes, or should make, us proud to be Americans.
The idea that some students are being denied entry into a university's Greek system because of race should be repulsive to every citizen of our country and, for Christians, lead to a renewed commitment to pursue racial reconciliation. Either Jesus truly loves all the little children of the world, or the Bible is a lie. Since it's not, let's better live it out.