Why the church should care about Donald Sterling
Well, the verdict is in. Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers owner (NBA Team), was found guilty in the court of public opinion for racism. And not only the court of public opinion but the NBA organization found and fined him guilty. In fact, $2.5 million dollars guilty and at least as this post is written, a lifetime ban from the league. Which would logically mean that he will have to relinquish his ownership of the team. So what did he do?
A brief re-cap is in order.
A recording of Donald Sterling talking to his then girlfriend V. Stiviano, was released with him saying emphatically, "Don't bring blacks to my games!" He also demanded that she take down photos with black celebs from her Instagram account, namely the beloved Magic Johnson. Mind you, the majority of his team is black and has been the main reason why the franchise he bought in 1982 for $12 million dollars is now worth $545 million.
When news of the recording hit, people speculated for days what Donald Sterling's punishment would and should be. The Clippers players, currently in a first round bitter fight for their NBA playoff lives, protested by wearing their warm up jerseys inside out, as to not show the name Clippers on the front. It has been a spectacle. But not more than what appears to be the overwhelming approval of his punishment.
Whether you think the punishment fits the crime or not is another story altogether, but you cannot ignore that this whole scene is fascinating. The twitterverse has been on fire with approval of the lifetime ban decision. Everyone is weighing in on racism and justice. Shouts of glee are clamoring tweets and other social media outlets so that we're all on one accord as we silently shout, "Down with racism! Down with inequality! Down with Down!" As a black man who is aware of the history of this nation, and it's previous approval of racism, as well as seeing it to varying degrees in the evangelical reformed church world, I am both astonished and concerned at the same time.
I am astonished at, what appears to be, a concerted effort to root out "racism" towards blacks in particular. If for no other reason, it's just not politically correct to voice those opinions publicly. And at this point it doesn't matter who you are. Once they locked up Martha Stewart a few years back, I was like nobody's above the law now. By law I don't mean the American legal system. I mean the law of the public opinion. Believe it or not, it is slowly becoming the highest court in the land, to which even the Supreme Court is slowly bowing down to. Public outrage is astonishing and in many ways can be a force for a lot of good.
I am concerned though.
And I say this not so much as a black man, even though some of the concern is cultural, I say this as a concerned Christian. A lot of what is happening these days feels like reparations to me. Or as author Shelby Steele called it "White Guilt." People are overreacting just a lil' bit too much for my taste. While it is cool to see some real backlash for 'talking out the side of your neck' it almost seems like the consequences for doing so are so overkill I have to ask what is really going on here? And what effect does this have on me as a believer? And these questions lead me to my greatest concern.
The severity of Donald Sterling's punishment for his comments, coupled with the public approval of his punishment, has a much deeper meaning than mere racist comments about black people. This is a statement! This is a "We are cracking down against any and all racism, bigotry, and inequality! We will not stand for it!" The NBA heard loud and clear from people all around the world, and it is hard to imagine that, policy or not, they wouldn't respond in the likeness of George W. Bush when he yelled to the Ground Zero crowd after 9/11, "We hear you! The whole world hears you!" To use the vernacular of the hood, "The NBA went in!"
On the surface it looks good, until we remember that people equate gay rights to the black civil rights issue. As the country rises in indignation against Sterling's racist comments, it is essentially cleaning and loading its guns, getting them ready to be aimed and then fired at those of us who disagree with gay marriage. Do not be fooled by this grandiose acceptance of severe punishment for expressing personal beliefs. And let's be honest, that's what this is about, Donald Sterling's personal beliefs about black people. Yes they were illegally recorded and distributed. And yes they are racist, but at the end of the day what Sterling said are his personal beliefs. But once they were made public, they became all of ours to evaluate and in many cases self-righteously judge. There was almost a bloodthirsty outcry for vengeance. It is becoming the same for the church. At least at those of us who stand up righty and define marriage as between one man and one woman. As long as we do that, we are Donald Sterling.
So, as you observe this fiasco, remember like with George Zimmerman and whomever else you can think of, this too shall pass. But the raging war against racism and inequality will not. And with Homosexuality being so intertwined in people's minds with the racism against the civil rights black America, eventually, actually, very soon, that same rage will be turned on us.
Pay attention to the public outcry's of inequality and racism and remember that people will not back down until you and I do, agreeing with them that homosexuality is not sinful, and that gay marriage can, and in fact, does glorify God.
The war is here.
"Ready! Aim! Fi..."