Churches say firm 'no' to racism
By Simon Barrow
Hundreds of Christian congregations of all shapes and sizes across Britain and Ireland joined in ëRacial Justice Sundayí on 12 September 2004, says the ecumenical Churchesí Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
The message is loud and clear, proclaim the organisers. Racism and discrimination are wholly opposed by the Gospel. The commitment of churches is especially important at a time when tabloid journalism and extremist political groups have been trying to whip up hatred against minorities and asylum seekers.
Earlier in the year the Christian Churches united through CCRJ to oppose the British National Partyís divisive policies at the local elections. The Commission also published ëAsylum Voicesí, an account of the first-hand experiences of people seeking refuge in Britain.
Uzoamaka Agyare-Kumi, National Co-ordinator of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ), said: ëRacial Justice Sunday is our opportunity to remind ourselves of how much our hearts should burn for change. It is our opportunity to remind ourselves of the injustices we and others face in our communities. It is our day to re-affirm and re-commit ourselves to joining hands with other Churches to say ìI do reject racism and all its evil in my life, my community, my worldî.í
CCRJ Moderator Myra Blyth, until recently Assistant General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: ëBy sharing hospitality and creating safe spaces, Churches can help black, white and Asian people, Travellers and people seeking asylum to meet together and begin to build new trust and respect for each other.í
ëRacial Justice Sunday is the Churchís chance to witness to the Christian truth that difference and diversity are a gift,í she added. ëJesus never ìdumbed downî the fact of colour, gender or nationality, but embraced people and celebrated their distinctive, God-given identities.í