On the first episode of her new podcast You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Pastor William J. Barber II of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, spoke about justice and racism.
According to The Christian Post, Clinton contended that “Jesus and justice are the same thing” and that Christians must understand as to “how profoundly true that simple phrase really is.”
“You know, to say that Jesus and justice are the same thing seems to me to be so obvious," Clinton asserted. "I mean, how can you be a Bible reading person, a church attending person, and not understand how profoundly true that simple phrase really is?" Clinton asked.
She then proceeded to ask Barber, a known social justice advocate, how he is “trying to open up people's minds and hearts to understand what Christianity should mean and what should be expected of us who claim to be followers of Jesus.”
Barber reposnded assrting that there must first be an admission that there have been many things in Western and American culture’s that have negatively impacted theology. Barber cited, the “genocide of First Nations people and the enslavement of African Americans,” and seeing women oppressed and excluded as events that negatively impacted theology.
Barber then recalled what one of his professors told him as to what it means to be a Christian.
“One of my professors said, ‘To be a Christian’ — to be born again, sprinkle whatever you call it — ‘and to claim the Holy Spirit, is to have a quarrel with the world's systems of injustice.’ And if whatever you claim you have doesn't produce a quarrel with injustice, then your claim of it being the Spirit with the big S is suspect,” Barber said.
In response to Barber’s comments, Clinton noted that there is a “very deliberate, concerted effort by one political party to basically try to own Christianity” that “overlooks the role of the African American Church”, alongside history and theology.
“It also overlooks this moment in time,” she added. “Black Lives Matter I view as very profoundly as a theological statement.”
Regarding the current protests over racial injustice, Barber believes that they are the “birth pains” of a third reconstruction in the country. He explained that the first two reconstructions took place between 1868 and 1896 and 1954 to 1968, respectively.
“I think this moment can be a moment where we come to terms not just with systemic racism as it affects black people, but systemic racism in all of its manifestations against brown people, against First Nations people, but also systemic poverty and ecological devastation and the war, economy and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism,” the pastor continued.
“This is a moment, if we don't miss the moment, if we match our policy decisions to the mourning we see in the street, and if we don't treat this as a spectacle event, rather than recognizing this is a call for reconstruction, this is a moment that we can fundamentally shift, but it's going require a lot of shift.” he told Clinton.
Barber added that the shift must be seen in politicians and people who are running “to be moderate” to see that this is “not a moderate moment” but a “reconstruction moment.”
“We're in an FDR moment. We are not in normal times. And God help us if we blow this moment. That's the way I feel about it."
“How do you see now what the Church should be doing?” Clinton asked Barber. “Because a lot of people are leaving the Church. A lot of young people are leaving the Church, in part because the way they understand what Christianity has become ... so judgmental, so alienating that they think to themselves, well, I don't need that.”
Barber replied that young people “are very open to faith that is about transformation, about love, about justice, about equality, about the essence, the essence of what it means to be people of faith” and that the church must be willing to engage them in that manner.
“There's no way in the days in which we live, the church can stay quarantined inside of the four walls of a building because that's never what it was intended to do,” he asserted.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.