The death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers has reignited debates about justice, racism, and activism amongst Christians. Since Nichols’s death, five police officers have been charged with second-degree murder, with two more officers who responded to the scene being relieved of duty. Nichols was pulled over on January 7th by Memphis police […]
A black pastor of a multiethnic church recently shared how he identifies more with the cross than with the color of his skin and believes a Christian’s identity should be rooted in Jesus, not race.
“A lot of people, they look at themselves as a black person or a white person or a Hispanic person,” Pastor Ken Claytor of Alive Church in Gainesville, Florida, told Joni Lamb, host of “Table Talk” in an episode that aired on Oct. 24.
“I look at myself as a born-again person, washed by the blood, who is a child of God, that happens to be black. I don’t have a problem with my heritage or my race. I love what I am.”
Claytor, who’s also the author of the book, As it is In Heaven: How a Church That Resembles Heaven Can ‘Help’ Heal Our Racial Divide, explained why he places greater importance on his religious beliefs than his racial identity and noted that the Church is supposed to be multiracial.
Christians can be racist due to living in a fallen world, added Claytor, who told the host that “some of the racist rhetoric was coming from the Church, especially in the South.”
“There were Jim Crow laws that were passed in the South, and some people believed that segregation was a godly thing. Not sure what scripture they were using for that one because I got other scriptures that say the opposite,” Claytor said.
“I believe that racism is not just a skin issue. It’s a sin issue. And we’re the only ones who have the answer to sin, and His name is Jesus. So, the Church should actually be leading the way and be the example.” Claytor also shared that he’s “a little weary of people that might be tired of this topic,” given that he believes it will always be relevant to the Church.
“It’s almost this pressure, ‘let’s keep putting our head in the sand and act like this isn’t a problem,'” he said. “But as long as we live in a fallen, broken world, there’s going to be all kinds of -isms; sexism, racism, whatever the -isms are. And we have to address it.”
As Christians, it is vital to forgive, Claytor said, citing Luke 23:34, when Jesus said: “‘forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
“As Christians, we have to forgive because we’ve been forgiven of so much. And I think we live in a time where it’s almost suggested, ‘Well, no, this has been so bad that you can’t forgive someone.’ And that’s just not true,” Claytor said.
“I don’t look at social injustices or racism as, ‘Oh, that’s a white problem, a black problem, yellow problem.’ I look at it as a demonic problem. This is not just about a certain group of people. This is about how Satan loves to divide. ‘For a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.’ He’ll use whatever he can to divide us; denominational differences, doctrinal differences, and pigment differences.”