How Christians might put their beliefs about racism into action

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The Roman Catholic Church does not agree with racism. In 1965 the second Vatican council made a declaration on the relation of the church to non-church religions (nostra aetate). It said:

“The church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, and discrimination against people, or any harassment of them on the basis of their race, colour, condition in life or religion.”

After that was published, pope john Paul 11 asked the church to produce a fuller report on racism. It basically has in it that the roman catholic church is against racism and racial discrimination, how god loves everyone the same no matter what, apartheid in south Africa must be abolished and how the church wants to change racist attitudes etc.

I think that its obvious that the roman catholic church despises racism and wants to destroy it, but what are they really doing to fight racism? I know they have done things in the past etc but what are they doing now to help eliminate racism? They say they ‘want to change racist attitudes’, but what are they doing about it? They say ‘apartheid in South Africa must be abolished’, oops too late nelson Mandela abolished it. They need to rise above and try to help racism instead of writing reports on how they don’t agree with it.

Then there are Christians such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Bishop Trevor Huddleston who actually did take action to stop racism.

Martin Luther King Jr. used peaceful protest as a way to purge racism in South America. In the 1950’s and 60’s south America was starting to become like south Africa, discrimination against black people was common, blacks earned half of what whites earned, some public places were ‘whites only’ and black people had to give up their own luxuries for whites.

On the 1st December 1965, a tired black woman refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person and got arrested for it. This lead to a bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr. who was at the time a Baptist preacher in Alabama. All black people walked instead of using the busses, which led to the bus companies losing a lot of money. He got recognition for it and became the head of the civil rights movement, which campaigned for equal treatment of black and whites.

He thought that non-violent protest another way to get racial equality. It had worked for Ghandi, a great Indian leader, getting British to leave India. King used Ghandi’s tactics, even when he received death threats and his own home was bombed. He insisted that the black community must not fight back.

In 1962, he met President Kennedy and asked for greater understanding towards American blacks. The year after that he led a march, with over a quarter of a million people, both black and white, in the capital city of Washington. The march was for the new civil rights bill, which was trying to relax the circumstances of black people. The bill became law. In 1965, King met President Johnson and asked for more improvements to get rid of the rest of the problems to racial equality. That year black adults got the right to vote.

Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Tennessee in April 1968.

King managed to get through to people without using violence. If he had used violence he wouldn’t have got anywhere, he would have lost public sympathy and it would have caused even more racism. His tactics were very good to get support and they worked, as blacks managed to get more privileges thanks to him.

Nelson Mandela was born in Trankskei, South Africa in 1918. In 1964 he was put in prison for sabotage, treason and conspiring to overthrow the government. After 26 years on 11th February 1990 he was released. Even before he was put in prison, he was seen as the figurehead for the black people’s struggle in South Africa and he still is.

He proposed that those who committed crimes against the black people under Apartheid should be pardoned. He stresses how blacks are in urgent need of more housing, electricity and proper sanitation, better education and better employment.

He led ANC to victory in the 1994 general election in South Africa. His government has eliminated apartheid, but huge problems continue for the black population, violence continues the education system needs amendment etc and all this cannot be solved straight away, it needs time.

Nelson Mandela helped black Africans a lot, and abolished apartheid in Africa. He did a lot to help racism in South Africa and he is still alive and helping fight racism today.

Bishop Trevor Huddleston went to South Africa in 1943 to take charge of a church in Sophiatown, an area with a large and poor black population. He raised the money to build schools and nurseries and successfully campaigned for black children to have free school meals, since before then in 1945 only white children could get free meals.

He continually pounded apartheid. He denounced the government when, in 1955, Sophiatown was demolished and its inhabitants were evicted and re-settled. He attacked the pass laws. The government called him an extremist and had him spied on.

He had been good friends with Archbishop Tutu practically all his life. Desmond Tutu was enormously impressed by the simple courtesy of Huddleston raising his hat to Tutu’s mother, because it was virtually unheard of for a white to show this kind of respect to a black.

“Christians are not only commanded to love, we are commanded to hate what is evil, and nothing is more evil than apartheid.”

He did a lot in his life to help black children, but I think there could have been other things or other ways to do this. If he had gone about some things more carefully the government wouldn’t have had him spied on, which means he could have maybe done some more things? He started off good raising money and campaigning for free meals etc but I think he should have carried on doing small things like that.

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