I may infringe on our camp Chaplain’s turf a bit but I wanted to relate a recent sermon from my church regarding prejudice. Prejudice was defined as favoritism or partiality. The pastor acknowledged that we all like to claim that we don’t harbor prejudice but all of us have and make generalizations which can reach a degree of prejudice. Studies with infants and toddlers have shown that these behaviors are learned very early in one’s life. Socio-economic, sex, race, country of origin, age and physical size may form our prejudices. Everyone has heard the excuse, “You wouldn’t understand, you are a man or you are white” or other generalizations. Examples provided included labeling all Californians as tree-huggers, Coloradans as skiers and/or potheads, and Idahoans as potato farmers. In the Bible, James 2 states, “Believers must not show favoritism” giving an analogy of offering a seat to a rich person and not to the poor. The passage goes on to say, “Love your neighbor as yourself but if you show favoritism you sin” and instructs us to “speak and act as those who will be judged by the law.” Show love and mercy and do not base your treatment of someone based on superficial things. While James used a social-economic example, Paul used a racial one saying, “God does not show favoritism.”
We don’t like it when people treat us in a prejudicial way. Statistically, generalizations may be true but they can be hurtful when erroneous. Some generalizations are good and life may not be livable without assuming some such as recognizing dangers around us. But, we should not let pride and arrogance cause us to use generalizations to show prejudice which may occur if 1) you treat every member of a group as if they possess that preconceived generalization, 2) you don’t acknowledge exceptions, 3) you falsely try to fit them into your stereotype which you believe they all should fit, or 4) you refuse to bend when evidence is shown that the generalization is false. The example used was that of those who claim churches are filled with hypocrites and use that as justification to reject all Christians. In John 1:48 Nathaniel would not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Messiah saying “nothing good can come from Nazareth.” But Philip was able to convince Nathaniel to meet Jesus and he repented and accepted Christ as Lord. Three indications were given of people who have a good heart and don’t cross the line of prejudice, 1) good hearted people see people and treat people as individuals not as representatives of a group, 2) good hearted people are willing to believe the best and not assume the worst, and 3) good hearted people are ready to repent.
We must demonstrate love and mercy and a capacity for understanding. We must recognize we have all fallen short and we are not the standard. We should love and respect as we would desire in return. As the SCV, we renounce racist hate groups who have hijacked our Confederate Battle Flag and want people to respect the Flag for the Southern history and heritage it truly represents. We reject the mainstream generalizations of the flag as a symbol of hate and instead espouse it as a continuing symbol of the patriotism of our founding fathers. SCV members embrace black Confederates as dispelling the preconceived notion of bigotry which the mainstream casts upon us. As the SCV Constitution states, “The SCV rejects any group whose actions tarnish or distort the image of the Confederate soldier or his reasons for fighting. The Sons of Confederate Veterans shall be strictly patriotic, historical, educational, benevolent, non-political, non-racial and non-sectarian. The Sons of Confederate Veterans declare (an) unquestioned allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America. The Sons of Confederate Veterans neither embraces, nor espouses acts or ideologies of racial and religious bigotry, and further, condemns the misuse of its sacred symbols and flags in the conduct of same.” In today’s political climate many of our leaders struggle to compromise and default to labeling opponents as left wing libtard Socialists or neo-con right wing Nazis. Unfortunately, our beloved Southern Baptist churches have not heeded this very message of resistance to prejudice and (mainstream) preconceived notions that the Confederate Battle Flag represents hate when the SCV seek to educate all to the historical context of that sacred symbol as part of our cherished Southern heritage on which our nation was founded and has prospered. Streaks of prejudice can run both ways.