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Editorial: Expose the boils of injustice

Recently, leaders of two universities associated with Churches of Christ apologized for actions — and, in some cases, inaction — during the civil rights era. 

At Oklahoma Christian University, during a chapel presentation, president John deSteiguer discussed the troubled past of the school he serves — which in 1969 arrested 18 of its own students participating in a peaceful demonstration. 

Related: Racial concerns prompt renaming of Christian university’s auditorium

DeSteiguer quoted this graphic analogy from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:

“Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

That’s certainly true of the racist attitudes and actions that have marred our colleges and universities — before, during and after the tumultuous events of the 1960s. 

We salute Oklahoma Christian, Freed-Hardeman and other institutions that have taken steps to honestly address the sins of the past in hopes of a more united future.

King’s words ring equally true as we consider our Page 1 story on the discord created in a Pennsylvania church by the presence of a confessed sex offender. Months of research, interviews and prayer preceded the publication of the story. 

Related: A perpetrator in the pews

We anticipate that some will accuse us of dragging Churches of Christ through the mud, arguing that we would better serve our fellowship by allowing congregations to handle these matters internally — outside the glare of the media spotlight. 

We disagree. The Catholics and the Baptists have tried this approach. It hasn’t worked. The victims deserve better. God demands better.

Abuse of any kind — whether it is committed by elders, preachers, church volunteers or members — is pox on our house, a vile stain on our fellowship.

Abuse of any kind — whether it is committed by elders, preachers, church volunteers or members — is pox on our house, a vile stain on our fellowship. For too long this sin has plagued Churches of Christ, and the online responses we’ve received to the story reemphasize this truth. 

In the months to come, we want to share resources to help churches be better as we address issues of abuse. (See Christine Parker’s “Views” piece.) 

Related: Rewrite the script

We invite you to participate in this endeavor. Give us feedback. Disagree with us, but don’t give up on us. Pray for us. 

And never be afraid to expose the boils of injustice. Sunlight, as we journalists are fond of saying, is the best disinfectant. 

The Lord’s church will survive. 

And we will get better.

Filed under: churches of christ and unity churches of christ and victims of abuse Editorial Opinion Racial reconciliation and the church supporting victims of abuse unity

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