Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Inconvenient Truths

Dear Friends,

You might remember a movie about ten years ago called “An Inconvenient Truth” that was about global warming and the effects on the environment. Whether you believe the science or not, you’ve got to love the title because so many things today are “inconvenient’ truths. There are a lot of inconvenient truths in our Bible. As Jesus said so politically-incorrectly, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 Or whoever believes in Jesus shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16 Those truths come smack up against some modern-day church teachings.

And as Black History Month comes to an end, I’ve been thinking about some inconvenient truths that smack up against the media narratives that form our beliefs and stereotypes. I try to stay politically centered by getting my news from the liberal Los Angeles Times, CNN and ABC and the conservative Fox News and the unexciting but objective Reuters News Service. The left and right leaning major news sources have a fixed narrative that is supported by the stories they feature. The few major media companies know they are influencing and changing the worldview of a culture by what they broadcast and publish. Here’s one example. Gallup polls show that only 3%-4% of us are homosexual but the same polls show that people believe that 20%-25% of our population is gay or lesbian. That belief was created and shaped by the power of story. By normalizing and celebrating same-sex relationships, the media changed a nation’s belief about marriage. Most people accept as gospel the “news stories” that form our opinions and stereotypes and then diligently avoid any truth that will discomfort us or shatter our worldview. But as Christians, we may want to apply the words of Jesus who told us, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 And lately I’ve been thinking about some of these “inconvenient” truths.

Some of my black and nearly all of my liberal friends will be surprised to hear the results of a Marist Poll commissioned by the liberal NPR and PBS. Only 3% of whites agree with the white supremacy movement. And the actual number of white supremacists may be less than those who agree with some of their beliefs. The same poll showed that both 3% of conservative Republicans and 3% of liberal Democrats agree with the white supremacy movement. Yikes! There’s an inconvenient truth! Some of my dearest liberal friends will continue to believe the progressive message about racist conservatives, but the inconvenient truth is that 96% of Trump voters disagree with, dislike and hate white supremacists. In a news release to their affiliate stations on the poll results, NPR and PBS quoted only the percentage of democrats who strongly disliked Trump.

And I know that some of my good white Christian friends are going to be surprised to hear some inconvenient truths about their black neighbors. African Americans are more “Christian” than you are, Bubba! A Pew Research Center poll found that nearly 80% (79%) of African Americans are Christian believers compared to 70% of whites in our Nation. We look around our white churches and see very few blacks, if any at all, and we may make incorrect assumptions about the faith of African Americans. The truth is that they go to church even more than we do. They just don’t go to our church. Half of all African-Americans in our Country attend historically black Protestant churches. Only 14% go to Evangelical churches, 5% attend Catholic churches, 4% go to the mainline (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal) churches and another 4% of blacks are Muslims, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Buddhists. 

By most measures, our black brothers and sisters are far more committed to their faith than both whites and Latinos. For example, 75% of black believers say that religion is very important in their lives while only 49% of white believers and 59% of Hispanic believers would say the same thing. Black believers by a large majority (83%) believe in God with absolute certainty and only 61% of whites would claim to have the same level of certainty. Three-quarters of all African Americans pray daily and only half of white Americans do so. And African American Christians are also far more likely than their white Christian brothers and sisters to attend church weekly. If hearing these statistics messes with your assumptions about blacks and their faith, then just consider it another one of those “inconvenient” truths.

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