Ever since last Saturday’s Klan rally and my own participation in the anti-Klan protest, two passages of Scripture have been swirling around in my mind:
The first part of Psalm 97:10 says, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” I wonder, what does it look like when people who love God embrace the other side of that?
According to the immediate context, hating evil includes some sort of outward expression. As the verse goes on, the command is accompanied by this assurance: “for he guards the lives of his faithful ones, and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Clearly then, godly anger isn’t some tricky blend of two emotions, anger and reverence. The passage obviously implies that because of their hatred of evil, the “faithful ones” eventually say or do something that consequently and necessarily incites the wicked.
I went to Saturday’s rally mainly because as a Christian I didn’t want the Ku Klux Klan, a group with a reputation for murderous racism, to stand at the front of City Hall and spew their ugly rhetoric without some sort of repudiation. By the way, I reject the opinion piece in today’s Amarillo Globe-News that suggests that if protesters had only stayed away from the rally, the Klan would have had an audience of maybe two or three clueless teenagers. The on-line edition includes photos of grown men standing with the crowd, wearing Confederate head scarves, and proudly returning to the KKK their Nazi salute! At one point Saturday afternoon, it dawned on me why we couldn’t build the cheer, “Go away, KKK!” At least some of those around us were Klan sympathizers. The protest was significant.
I’ve also been meditating on James 1:19-21: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you.”
Last Saturday, I relearned something about anger. Like the child who grows up, breaks free from and overwhelms the good parent, anger quickly outgrows even righteous indignation and begins to act on its own.
Many people in the protest group wanted to do more than simply make noise and drown out the words of the Klan. At certain points during the rally it became necessary for lines of policemen, dressed in riot gear, to approach the crowd and keep things from escalating. The animosity was infectious and at times I felt like a shark that had caught the scent of blood.
Just after arriving at City Hall, I asked a black man standing nearby me what he thought and how he felt about what we were witnessing. He talked about how he was surprised that we still had visible expressions of the Klan. Then he said, “But one thing’s for sure: only God can straighten this out.”