Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Jena, Justice, & Jesus

Here's a short timeline of the incidents that ensued at Jena High School:

>Sept., 2006 = During a school rally, a black student jokingly asked if he could sit under the tree where all the white students sat.

>The next day, three white students hung nooses from the tree.

>The white students were punished. Some reports claim they got three day suspension. The District Superintendent, on the other hand, says the teens were sent to an alternative school for 9 days, placed in in-school suspension for 2 weeks, made to serve Saturday detentions, attend Discipline Court, and undergo an evaluation before returning to school.

>Dec. 1 & 2, 2006 = Two incidents involving 16 year-old Robert Bailey, a black student, occured. On the 1st, Bailey and his friends were not allowed into a party and a fight insued with a white man (not a student). On the 2nd, Bailey and his friends encountered some white students at a gas station. A heated conversation followed, possibly a fight. What happened after this is not clear, but a gun was pulled by a white student. The gun was wrestled away by the black students. Going on eyewitness reports, police charged Bailey.

>Dec. 4, 2006 = Justin Barker, a 17 year-old white student, was assaulted at school. He was struck in the head by a black student, knocking him unconscious. A group of black students then repeatedly kicked him.

>Robert Bailey, Mychal Bell (16), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Theo Shaw (17) were arrested and charged for attempted second-degree murder. Jesse Ray Beard (14) was charged as a juvenile.

>Sept. 20, 2007 = The date of Mychal Bell's sentencing. Rallies were held in support of Bell. In attendance were Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Ray Nagin, and several popular Rap artists. Bell was found guilty but was released on bail while his appeal was being processed.

How should Christians respond to all of this? Here are my thoughts:


Hating Blacks Is Sin. Hanging nooses in the tree was certainly an unacceptable prank. It reeks of racism and hatred. These sorts of actions are not funny and should never be tolerated. To hate and disrespect black people in this way is to hate and disrespect the God who created them.

Hating Whites Is Sin. As offensive as the prank might have been, it neither justifies nor explains the beating of Justin Barker. Six black students kicked and hit one white student until he was unconscious. For leaders of the black community to brush this off as a "schoolyard incident" is absolutely ridiculous and crossing the line of racial arrogance. This was a gang beating, nothing less. Dare we even consider the repercussions had the six boys been white and the one boy been black?

Justice For All. As followers of Christ, we should seek justice. The right thing needs to be done in Jena. It does not matter what the whites want; It does not matter what the blacks want. For those of us looking at this from the outside, it is hard to say what needs to be done. But my opinion is that justice has been served for the white students who hung the nooses. Now it's time to deal justly with the 'Jena Six'.

Mychal Bell has a history of violence. Robert Bailey was involved in several violent incidents just before Justin Barker's beating. Why is it unthinkable that these violent young men would be punished? Yet, black leaders are invoking emotional appeals like "they want to lock up our babies." The majority of the 'Jena Six' are now 18 or older. Those aren't babies. Those are men who beat another man...criminals.

Jena Needs Jesus, Not Jesse. I firmly believe that Christians of ALL races should stand against men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. These men use the name of God to spread division and hatred. The gap that exists between whites and blacks in our country will never be settled until men like Jackson and Sharpton disappear. Jena doesn't need the flames of racial tension fanned anymore than they already are. Jena needs godly men, both black and white, to point the community to Jesus and to teach that in Christ alone we can have these barriers broken down.

When we begin to see that we are all sinners in need of the same Savior, then we'll begin to understand that our problems aren't because we're white and they're black. Our problems exist because we are all sinners, seeking our selfish goals. If we could trade in our 'white desires' and our 'black dreams' for God's will and Christ's kingdom, we would experience the blessings of justice and love.

We long for racial unity and God's glory to fill our land, and so we pray,
"Come quickly, LORD Jesus."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed Josh. Great blog and great answers.

Jason Vaughn

Anonymous said...

A blog you may enjoy

http://timmybrister.com/2007/10/05/the-fleecing-of-the-sbc/

Leo said...

Well said.

Double O Balloon said...

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0207082jena1.html