While preparing myself for worship this last Sunday, only about ten minutes before worship was to start – a news item came across my message box.
The headline read: “League of the South Announces Formation of ‘Southern Defense Force.’” I read a little further: Edging closer to militancy, the neo-Confederate Leauge of the South says it’s forming a force to combat the leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.”
In a military-styled order titled “Directive 02022017,” Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, announced the formation of a new vigilante defense force and called for all “able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men” to join the Southern Defense Force for the purpose of helping the State and local magistrates across Dixie combat the growing leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.
I was about to preach about the United Church of Christ’s recent decision to identify love of neighbor and building a just world for all as our mission commitment.
I was about to read that powerful opening and closing lines to an Emily Dickinson poem in support of that message. The opening line reads “I had no time for hate.” The closing line reads, “my little toil of love is large enough for me.”
So much today is calling for hate.
Mexicans are called murderers, rapists, and drug dealers.
Muslims are called terrorists, and those who refuse to call them that become threats to our security as well.
Immigrants are seen as a threat to our jobs and security.
And now “able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men” are being asked to take up arms against other Christians.
My dear God, what is happening?
I have a strong sense that if you are listening to this, you are likely not among those able-bodied traditionalists southern men who will soon take up arms against the leftist menace. This spiritual podcast isn’t going to ask you to resist THAT temptation.
But if you are listening, kind and gentle soul that you are, become aware of what is being arrayed and aligned to fight and resist all that your own heart calls you to: love, acceptance, peace, tolerance, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and justice.
Would that the simple act of loving your neighbor would not be viewed as the act of a leftist menace to be eradicated – but we may just be heading in that direction.
This is very disturbing. I don’t doubt the veracity or dismiss the intent of the Michael Hills of our world. We have heard this kind of rhetoric before. My God, when will it end?
We cannot be silent in the face of this. I am a white man, and I know to whom the League of the South is directing their attention when they call for traditionalist southern men to gather.
My heart is sick over this. My spirit is deeply troubled by it. But my mouth will not be silent about and – if need be – nor will my body distant from what may come.
We have seen too many black bodies hung and bloodied by white perpetrated violence. White voices and bodies must now hold themselves accountable for what has been done and what is now threatened.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.
Let the peace that passes all understanding dwell among us on this troubled journey Into the Mystic.