Editor, the Advocate:
Thank you for presenting a penetrating look into what you have characterized as “white evangelical” mistakes in the current viral crises. It’s important that we take a close look at why we do the things that we do.
Emphasizing the “whiteness” of Protestant evangelical behavior in the current crises, plays beautifully into the hands of those who would use the race(ism) card to prove or emphasize their particular point(s). Whether intentional or inadvertent, the result is the same: furthering the divide among ethnic groups. Also, do you mean to imply that all black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander evangelicals, et. al. have perfectly performed in accordance with the behavior you have embraced? Neither do all “white evangelicals” perform as you have described. You speak of the opportunity for open discussion; the language of your assessment seems to leave little room for constructive dialogue. The sweeping generalizations used serve only to widen the relational gaps you propose to expose.
Where I am privileged to serve, we are rediscovering the value of the gathered Body of Christ. We discontinued in-person worship when it became obvious that it might be dangerous for our folks to gather. We found other ways to stay in touch with each other. During that time folks began to realize what it means to be able to share worship and fellowship in the gathered setting. After that first wave, we returned to acts of corporate praise, worship, prayer, sacraments, and fellowship. Hebrews 10:25 took on new meaning. Ways were found to return safely: masks by most of our folks (none of us is perfect), sanitizing stations, masks provided, gloved ushers give out unhandled bulletins, offering stations at various places, seating physically spaced, the building sprayed with an anti-viral effective against the virus.
We also teach that we must live in the everyday in such a way that expresses our Biblical faith in relationships with each other. We teach the Biblical mandate that we are to think more of others than we do of ourselves. We are not perfect in these things, but we are striving toward being perfected in love so that in the midst of all the turmoil that surrounds us, our gathered witness to the love, mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ may be seen as a tangible reality for all people. That is what disciples of Jesus Christ do, gathered or separated.
Carl E. Westbrook, Victoria