Imagery of Regent people and campus

Chapel Speaker Talks Church's Role in Race Relations

By Amanda Morad | February 25, 2014

Rev. C.L. Bryant

At Regent University's weekly chapel service on Wednesday, Feb. 19, Rev. C.L. Bryant tipped his hat to Black History Month with a compelling address about the Church's role in race relations.

"Can we as people of faith deal with the elephant in the American living room?" he asked. "It's the issue of race. We as Christians must address it."

The Baptist minister, radio and television host, and the former president of the NAACP's Garland, Texas, chapter spoke candidly about the Church's silence on the issue over the years. "From one blood God created all men on the earth, but for far too long, we have languished on the shallow sea of color," he explained. "It's a scar that refuses to heal because of our timidity in dealing with it."

Bryant noted that race has long been used to drive a wedge between parts of the Body of Christ. "I love the church, but I despise those who now use the Church and its people to push and garner religious favor," he said. "The Church is far too silent on the issues that matter."

For instance, Bryant quoted well documented statistics that 43 percent of abortions in the United States are of African American babies. The African American community only represents 12 percent of the American population as it is, he said. That number will only fall if current trends continue.

"How can so many pastors go along to get along?" Bryant asked. "The people out in the world I talk to have no problem with Christ. They have a problem with Christians, and most of the time, it's for good reason."

Bryant told the story of encountering gang members in Detroit, the leader of which had grown up in church. He told Bryant that he was now an atheist because every church he went to preached a different message.

This difference of opinion and silence on matters of injustice date back deeply into history. "Even the Civil War needn't have been fought if the Church had stood up and said of slavery, 'this is wrong,'" Bryant explained. "Slavery today has taken on a different form, but the effect of it is still the same. It's bondage."

He reminded the audience that every ethnicity in the United States came from a conquered people. "America is a place where everybody can be somebody because of their God-given character," Bryant said. Or at least, that's the idea. "We have wandered away from God's true intention."

At the root of the problem, Bryant explained, is in the slave mentality. "The slave mentality does not seek freedom, it seeks comfort," he said. "More food in their bowl, a softer [place]to lay their head, whatever others can give them. We see a nation surrendering to an entitlement mentality, a slave mentality."

He left the audience with a challenge: "In the DNA of every American is a thirst for freedom and liberty, and that must never go away," he said. "It's important that a new abolitionist movement rise up.... What are you prepared to do?"

But he warned that the road to freedom is never easy. Referencing stories from the book of Daniel in the Bible, he told them, "If you're going to fight this fight, there are lions' dens and fiery furnaces in your future.... You must have courage. Stand up and be who God intended you to be."

Bryant's message is part of Regent's larger Black History Month celebration. On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the university's annual Gospel Fest will celebrate the role of gospel music in the Church's past, present and future.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

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