Be­ing afraid of peo­ple dif­fer­ent than us

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - FA­THER KEN PARKS Ken Parks is the for­mer rec­tor of St. Theodore’s Epis­co­pal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email to frken­parks@sbc­global. net. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

In Post-World War II Amer­ica the mu­si­cal "South Pa­cific" opened on Broad­way. While it would be fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful, it was con­tro­ver­sial. The Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein pro­duc­tion was al­most shut down be­fore the open­ing night be­cause of the less than sub­tle mes­sages of an­tiracism. In the mu­si­cal Lt. Ca­ble falls in love with a na­tive Tonk­i­nese wo­man. He sang the signature song: “You’ve got to be care­fully taught (to hate and to fear).”

Then and still today some peo­ple want to claim that be­ing afraid of peo­ple dif­fer­ent from them, in­clud­ing the color of their skin, eco­nomic sta­tus or other out­ward char­ac­ter­is­tics, is some­thing that is nat­u­ral to all white hu­man be­ings. They claim su­pe­ri­or­ity. They have been teach­ing their chil­dren this dam­ag­ing be­lief and have passed this on from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other. Harold Kusher wrote that the Chris­tian­ity to which such peo­ple claim as their sal­va­tion, centers on whom they are re­quired to love, not on whom they are en­ti­tled to hate.

A few years af­ter the open­ing of "South Pa­cific," Congress es­tab­lished as our na­tional motto, “In God We Trust.” As I thought about it, I re­mem­bered the many times Je­sus asked the dis­ci­ples to trust Him.

The Galilean fish­er­man had been fish­ing all night and had not caught any fish. Je­sus told them to try again. They could have said no and with good rea­son. In­stead they launched their boats, and they caught so many fish that the boat al­most sank. Trust in God can be like that.

The Gallup Polling or­ga­ni­za­tion for years has been ask­ing peo­ple ques­tions about trust. I googled “Gallup who do Amer­i­cans trust” and re­ceived his­tor­i­cal and cur­rent re­sults. In 2017, 72 per­cent of those polled said they trusted the Mil­i­tary, up from 60 per­cent in 1997. In 2017 the po­lice were trusted by 57 per­cent, down from 59 per­cent in 1997. Re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions fell to 41 per­cent in 2017 from 56 per­cent in 1997. If you use the same data and re­verse the ques­tion to “Who do you NOT trust?" the re­sults are stag­ger­ing. The num­bers for re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions would be 59 per­cent don’t trust re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions in 2017.

Into the vac­uum of trust has emerged once again in­sti­tu­tions of fear and vi­o­lence. The South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter claims that there has been an 800 per­cent in­crease in or­ga­nized supremacy groups dur­ing the last decade.

Not only is our na­tional motto, “In God We Trust,” we also have a Pledge of Al­le­giance to the Flag of the United States.

Amer­i­cans do not also pledge their al­le­giance to the flag of Nazi Ger­many or to the Con­fed­er­ate States of Amer­ica. Yet, these hate groups today want to be pro­tected by our con­sti­tu­tion and fre­quently talk about their free­dom of speech and their right to as­sem­ble and their right to vote in Amer­i­can elec­tions.

It is our moral im­per­a­tive to be clear about our iden­tity as Amer­i­cans that proudly claims, “In God We Trust.” It is our moral im­per­a­tive to take our cit­i­zen­ship se­ri­ously and not just give it away to those that are caus­ing harm.

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