In our interview to serve a church in Our Nation’s Capital many years ago, HH and I – candidating as co-pastors – were asked if we would ever “march on the mall.” One of us followed that question with another question:
Are you asking us if there is anything we would ever protest for or against?
“Of course,” we answered. “We hope we would stand up for what we believed was right.” Suspicions were already high because I’d kept my own birth name. But as it turned out, the biggest “protest” we attended was an Earth Day Rally featuring James Taylor, Leonardo diCaprio, David Crosby, and Carole King and – honestly – we were there for the music, no matter how much we love the planet.
I’m far from being a brave marcher, unlike my colleagues getting arrested over protesting government budget cuts.
The situation at The University of Missouri is attracting both the ire and the respect of many people. Two powerful university leaders – in fact the two highest ranking university leaders – have resigned after the football team and many others protested certain administrative actions and the lack of action.
Among the assorted actions protested: Failing to address issues of flagrant racism.
Just 116.5 miles from Ferguson, many people of Columbia, MO had had enough of racial epithets shouted at Student Body President Payton Head, swastikas painted on a dorm wall, more racial epithets at a homecoming event. But it was only when the football team refused to play – losing potentially a million dollars for the University – that leaders agreed to step down.
I’ve heard some say that “protests don’t achieve anything.” Instead, we should be painting houses and feeding the hungry. But think about it: is there anything important enough that we would simply stand up in public and say: “No more.”
This is risky, of course. We risk offending somebody – maybe somebody in our family or somebody in our church.
But we are called to defend the weak and serve the disenfranchised. Would we stand up for them for the sake of Christ?
Image from a Mizzou protest. The hashtag #ConcernedStudent1950 honors the year the University accepted its first African American student.