A Statement from the President of Oakland City University in response to the recent acts of overt racial violence toward black individuals and the resulting response of violent protest.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” – Amos 5:24.
The prophet Amos proclaims that God does not value our songs or brunt offerings or religious festivals, but God values justice and righteousness. The people of Jesus Christ are called to uphold justice by their own actions but also by responding to injustice in the world. The continued acts of racism against people of color in America, especially black Americans, are an outrageous injustice. Oakland City University does not tolerate racism or bigotry. We are a place that welcomes all who are creations of God. OCU is by no means untainted by such racial sentiments but we address those issues as they arise as a part of our Christian community.
It pains me personally to think of the continued embedded racism which slithers through the land of the free and home of the brave, especially within our systems of justice and authority. Justice calls for anger over incidents of racist acts that we have witness against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and many others. Justice calls for a response to speak out or to protest such heinous behavior. As Christians, Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves; all individuals not just those who look like us or our community or our church. Those who harbor prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance of others are sinful and must repent of their sins.
Christians also are called to embrace righteousness as defined by Jesus in the Beatitudes as peace, humility, mercy, and pure hearts. Though our need to uphold justice engenders justifiable anger against systems and acts of racism, that anger cannot lead to violence. Christians are not called to respond to violence with violence. We are called to respond with love and peace. Our protests, both verbally and physically, should proceed from love and be grounded in peace as demonstrated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Our nation is experiencing so much turmoil. People are hurting because of health concerns, financial instability, and social anxiety. Our societal and political responses appear to be division, violence, and destruction. As Christians, we have a better solution. We have the good news of Jesus Christ that we are all brothers and sisters in love. Instead of ripping ourselves apart, we are called to sacrifice for each other. We are called to put aside any political or ideological beliefs, so that we may come together in the body of Christ. This is our hope and our desire at Oakland City University because we believe we are all part of the family of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Ron D. Dempsey
Oakland City University
Oakland City, Indiana