William Wilberforce didn’t abolish racism in Britain. John Graves Simcoe didn’t abolish racism in Canada. Thomas Jefferson didn’t abolish racism in America. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation didn’t abolish racism. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights leaders didn’t abolish racism. Barack Obama’s election didn’t abolish racism.
We have abolished slavery, not racism. We have abolished segregation, not racism. We have abolished systemic racism, not racism. We are not citizens of post-racial societies. Some people are racist. Some politicians are racist. Some pastors are racist. Racism isn’t an impossible sin within the Church. Racism isn’t a respecter of persons or place. Racism isn’t a respecter of time. Racism isn’t incompatible with our 21st Century nature. We have not abolished racism. We cannot abolish racism.
Activists restrict racism, they cannot abolish it. For instance, William Wilberforce’s abolitionist campaigns in Britian culminated into the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. But the law didn’t abolish racism. Thirty years later, the president of the London Anthropological Society wrote, “the Negro is inferior intellectually to the European…[and] can only be humanised and civilised by Europeans.”
John Graves Simcoe passed the Act Against Slavery in 1793 in Upper Canada. But it didn’t abolish racism—or slavery. The Act only limited the scope of slavery in Canada. It ended Upper Canada’s participation in the international slave trade. Under the Act, Upper Canada could no longer import slaves or maintain children born after the legislation as slaves when they reach 25 years old. But under the law, current slaves would remain slaves to death.
Like John Graves Simcoe, Thomas Jefferson passed a law that abolished his nation’s role in the international slave trade—the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807. But that didn’t abolish racism or slavery in America either. Slavery maintained its position within American consciences and culture until Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. That abolished slavery from the American political system, but it didn’t abolish systemic racism. In the American Civil War, Confederate soldiers waged war on fellow Americans and sacrificed their lives for state rights—including the right to strip rights from Black Americans. When they lost the war, they implemented the next phase of systemic racism: racial segregation.
Systemic racism against Black Americans were the norm in America for another hundread years until Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement abolished racial segregation and systemic racism in the country. They were crucial for the Civil Rights Acts in the 1950s and 1960s which abolished laws prohibiting Black Americans from voting rights, housing rights, education rights, marriage rights and other human rights violations that classified Black Americans as second-class citizens.
There aren’t racist policies in America any more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any racist politicians in America today. And though White American Christians aren’t as apathetic about racism as many of them used to be decades ago, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t racists within churches today.
There are professing Christians today who make Alt-Right talking points their theological convictions. They send racist emails to prominent friends of mine in shameful attempts to persuade them to racism. They call Christians who oppose their racist theology “cuckstians” in reference to cucks. A cuck is a man who enjoys watching his wife engaging in adulterous affairs with other men—particularly, Black men.
They share racist memes in these emails. They write racist blogs at Faith And Heritage. Their throat is an open grave. Their tongues are full of deceit. Their lips are venomous. Their mouths are full of curses and bitterness. Their paths are ruin and misery. They do not know peace. They do not fear God.
We have not abolished racism. We never will. Racism isn’t extinct because we exist. Racism isn’t dead yet because you and I are still alive. Racism will become a thing of the past when our sinful nature is no longer a present reality. Racism will die in the future when the one who conquered sin and death returns to establish perfect peace in the New Jerusalem.
The Church is made up of people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, and one day we will all stand before the throne of the Lamb with the same white robes, the same palm branches, singing the same song to the same Saviour–our Lord Jesus Christ.
We cannot abolish racism, only Jesus can. But we can call others to repentance from racism, and we must never rest from doing so. Racism doesn’t rest. Sin never rests.