Leading a multiracial church in America is no easy job. Recently, Pastor Hope Carpenter, co-founder of Redemption Church in Greenville, S.C., slammed NFL players for protesting during the National Anthem. After learning that she had insulted many of her African American congregants, the megachurch pastor apologized for insensitive protest comments.
Initially, the conflicted pastor argued that the protest is not only wrong but is causing a great divide in the country. The decision to take a knee during the country’s anthem was initiated last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who took offense to the repeated instances of police brutality. After President Trump fueled the tension with abrasive comments toward the NFL, several players from other teams joined the demonstration. In a post, that is now deleted, Carpenter said:
Stop thinking about it from your history or race! The NATIONAL ANTHEM IS OUR NATION’s SONG! Yes, there are things in our country that’s wrong, but our country is not to blame! You don’t like it? Move or be a part of the healing of our nation! This only separates and divides more yall!!!!! Rise up church! Where you at??? U hanging out with the complainers??? The mad???? Where u at???
More than half of Redemption’s main campus identifies as black. The pastor’s comments surrounding a protest that is staged due to police brutality and the negative treatment of minorities upset a great deal of the membership. After slamming the protesting NFL players, the preacher came under great fire from critics. Although some celebrated, many were offended. As a result, Carpenter offered a tearful apology. She said:
That post was very controversial, the wording was very sensitive to issues that if you could, believe it or not, I was truly ignorant about because I don’t live there. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t live there. I was careless and said things that hurt people and I was ignorant of the whole scope of it all. The very people I love, the very people I fight for, I hurt and I beg you to forgive me. I love you … And that’s why I’m so devastated that I hurt you.
Maybe I was, I don’t know, maybe I was duped to think that you know, maybe we had made a difference you know, maybe we had come so far out and that’s where I live. But I promise you, I’m going to educate myself. And I’m gonna see what the other people out there, not in here, necessarily feel.”
And many of you in here may still feel that but I promise you I’m gonna get educated. Cause I don’t want to be ignorant, and I don’t want to talk stupid. I don’t want to hurt the people I love. And going from here, I just ask for your grace and mercy. That I’m not perfect and I make mistakes too and I made one. It’s been a very painful learning experience but aren’t most of them? Most of our learning experiences are painful.
I know He (God) will bring us through this and I’ll come out better. And I’ll come out wiser and I want you to know that I love you deeply. And I am truly sorry that I hurt you. Cause that’s not who I am. And I beg you to forgive me.
Unfortunately, as long as controversial remarks continue to flow from the country’s leadership, specifically the Trump regime, protests will continue to form in one way or another. Refuse Fascism is an organization that was formed, and currently, exists precisely to put a stop to the kind of violence and threats of violence against the people that characterizes fascist regimes and the extralegal fascist groups they foment. Donald Trump, during his campaign and continuing in rallies and tweets up to the present day, riles up and instigates white supremacist, misogynist and xenophobic hatred in his social base – including threatening violence. In Charlottesville, this resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer by a fascist thug. RefuseFascism.org has clearly stated its mission as follows:
A movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power. This means working and organizing with all our creativity and determination toward November 4 when many thousands of people will fill the streets of cities and towns, beginning a struggle that must continue day after day and night after night, eventually involving millions of people…
What is envisioned beginning on November 4 are ever-expanding protests that create a political situation similar to the one that took place in South Korea from October of 2016 through early March of this year, when the president of that country was removed from office.
This nightmare must end!
Protesting helps drive narratives and plays a major role in the political, civil, social, economic, and cultural life of all societies. While many criticize the demonstrators as wasting time or whining about non-existent problems, the issues are very real to those affected who often feel the sting of these issues on a daily basis. Protests have always played an important part in the fiber of America.
Carpenter’s heartfelt apology displays true leadership and as such, was received with great applause. Navigating a multiracial congregation in a country filled with a great deal of racial divide and tension, it is difficult. In the attempt of helping leaders with the process, Daniel Hill, pastor of River City Community Church, penned the book titled, “White Awake: An Honest Look At What It Means To Be White.” Having wrestled with what it means to be a white man in America, and a white pastor in the city of Chicago, Pastor Hill issues an invitation to lean into and join the current movement for racial justice.
Exploring the Biblical mandate for reconciliation by analyzing historical forces that have shaped the current reality, and by illustrating through personal story, Hill charters a course for a theologically-centered process of racial awakening. “White Awake” is written to help white Christians interact with both personal and social realities in the areas of race, culture, and identity, and empower them to be agents of reconciliation in our increasingly diverse and divided world.
The megachurch pastor found herself hinged between racial tensions because of what she called ignorance. After harsh backlash, Pastor Carpenter apologized for her NFL protest comments. It is crucial to understand both personal and social realities in the areas of race, culture, and identity. “White Awake” sheds light on a new perspective on being white and empower us all to be agents of reconciliation in this increasingly diverse and divided world.
“White Awake” is the answer for any level of ignorance. Much applause and thanks to Pastor Daniel Hill for sharing his story and clarifying the mandate for all Christians, regardless of the race narrative that continues to dominate America.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Christian Post: Tearful Hope Carpenter Begs for Forgiveness From Multiracial Megachurch, Says She’s ‘Ignorant’ About Discrimination
Pastor Daniel Hill: White Awake the Book
Charisma News: Megachurch Pastor Sparks Social Media Rage With Protest Comments
Press Release: RefuseFascism.org
Top Image Hope Carpenter – YouTube Snapshot
Inline Image White America – Screenshot
Featured Image Courtesy of Pixabay – Creative Commons License