(The following was originally published by the Christian Action League, authored by CAL writer Hunter Hines, and extensively quoting Rev. Dr. Mark Creech, director of CAL, and other notable faith leaders)
In what USA Today called an “extraordinary move,” this week, the Asheville City Council voted unanimously for a resolution to pay reparations to black residents for the city’s “historic role in slavery, discrimination and denial of basic liberties.”
The resolution, which was signed by Mayor Esther Manheimer, apologizes to its African American community and lists numerous grievances committed against the black race. It does not call for direct payments of monies, but instead for a commission that would develop a plan for “increasing minority homeownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth.”
The resolution also “calls on the state of North Carolina and the federal government to initiate policymaking and provide funding for reparations at the state and national levels.”
Councilman Keith Young spearheaded the resolution and told ABC News, “This process begins and is perpetual…There is no completion box to check off…As far as the timeline goes, we will have some steps to report on within six months and every six months after that. This work does not end and will be adaptive no matter what governing body holds office or who runs our city.”
Last month, Christianity Today, admonished churches to lead on the matter of reparations. In an op-ed piece for the magazine, CT’s President and CEO, Timothy Dalrymple, said, “repentance is not enough” for America’s sin of racism.
“The virus of racism infected our church, our Constitution and laws, our attitudes and ideologies. We never fully defeated it…It’s time for white evangelicals to confess that we have not taken the sin of racism with the gravity and seriousness it deserves,” wrote Dalrymple. He added that the church had been “silent in the face of slavery or even complicit in it.”
“I certainly believe that racism is a gross sin,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, “but reparations are a bad idea and without ample support in Scripture.”
Creech added to be against reparations can create the perception that you are insensitive to the pain and suffering of the black community. “You can’t worry too much about that,” said Creech. “A faithful servant of Christ must show a balance between not ignoring our nation’s sinful racist history and not allowing others to use that history wrongly, which is what the proponents of reparations do.”
Creech said reparations, whether advocated by religious leaders or politicians is deeply flawed and only exacerbates injustice. He said:
“The law of God requires that we make restitution for our own personal sins as much as possible (Numbers. 5:5; Luke 19:1-10). For instance, Zacchaeus, the tax collector, had defrauded many of his fellow Jews. When he was converted to Christ, he promised to pay them back fourfold, which was magnanimous and proof of his repentance. But we can’t take such passages as that and claim that they justify the government giving reparations to one group by confiscating money from another group for sins they didn’t actually commit. That’s a violation of the 8th Commandment of God, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ (Exodus 20:15).
“Furthermore, it violates passages such as Ezekiel 18:20, which reads, ‘The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.’ The prophet Jeremiah said regarding the New Covenant, ‘In those days, they shall no longer say, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But every one shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge (Jeremiah 31:29-30),’”
“I think we should also note that the Asheville City Councilman told the media the matter of reparations for Asheville would be ‘perpetual.’ ‘There is no completion box to check off,’ he said. Why do you suppose that is? “It’s because, humanly speaking, the debt can never be paid. The evil is too great for mortals to repair, especially by some Commission that’s determined to throw money at it. Indeed, we are to ensure that people are treated equally under the law, that there are no prejudicial standards legislatively or in the courts. But to require that people atone for the sin of slavery is to take on something that can never be finished.
“Thank God the Cross of Christ atones for the sins of the whole world and settles the debt in full. Christ’s atoning blood makes it possible for us to forgive and treat one another fairly and with dignity. If Christ forgives us of our sins and requires us to pay nothing in return to Him, then we must also forgive others of their sins and expect nothing in return from them. This is the blessed free grace of God! To whom grace is shown, that one is also called upon to show grace.
“The very principle of reparations is anti-Gospel, anti-grace, anti-forgiveness, and as a public-policy is anti-justice. You can’t secure racial reconciliation by the redistribution of wealth through government programs.”