Logo

 

Banner Image:   Baptist-Times-banner-2000x370-
Template Mode:   Baptist Times
Icon
    Post     Tweet

Radical Action

As Christians we are called to stand for what is just and right. The actions of the Selfridges staff who refused to serve Tommy Robinson and his friends, while controversial, reminds me we are called to confront injustice, writes Israel Olofinjana


Earlier this month Selfridges lived up to its catchphrase “There is always something extraordinary going on in Selfridges”. On Monday, 16 September, a staff member refused to serve a man because he was accompanied by his friend Tommy Robinson, the English Defence League (EDL) leader. The individual was protesting against a person he saw as embodying racism, fascism and Islamophobia. The incident has caused a stir and produced two very different reactions.

SelfridgesSelfridges acted by suspending the staff member for breaking company policy, and treating Robinson and his friend to a slap-up steak meal. Selfridges have since confirmed that they will not take any further action against the individual, despite some calling for him to be sacked.

A second reaction has seen many people commend the individual for making a statement. People have been using social media to call on others to support him, emailing Selfridges to say that standing up for the right thing should not be punished. As a Huffington Post blogger observed, the excuse “I was only doing my job” can actually be a shallow cop-out. How can ‘society’ oppose and reject fascism and racism without this impacting the world of work? Is work somehow separate from society?

Recently on 28 August 2013, North America and the world marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The speech, which epitomises the climax of the Civil Rights Movement’s struggle for equality and justice, was given during a march to confront injustice. Fifty years after that dream the struggle continues today in fighting for what is right and confronting that which is fascist and racist.

While controversial, the actions of the staff member can be viewed as courageous, as he refused to do what in his conscience was wrong and stood his ground. It reminded me of the actions of Sam Sharpe (1801-1832), the Baptist deacon in Jamaica who led a sit-down strike as a demonstration of freedom and equality during the slave period. Following this, further revolts took place, eventually leading to the emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean. It also reminded me of the boldness of Rosa Parks (1913-2005) who refused to stand up from a bus seat for a white person.

In these simple but profound actions we see people choosing to confront and not ignore prejudice and injustice. Simple, practical actions can have huge implications on our community and society if we are courageous enough to step out when it matters.

Acts of courage will look different for each of us, but surely as Christians we are called to speak for the oppressed and the marginalised? Jesus in his ministry related and associated with the oppressed and less privileged people. We can sometimes mistake Jesus for a meek and mild man, but he was in fact radical. In challenging injustice Jesus was not afraid to physically knock over the money-changers’ tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).

Jesus also encouraged us to seek peace and forgive our enemies. As Christians we are called to seek for peace and reconciliation between divided communities and help to reconcile differences. But being people of peace and standing up against injustice are not polar opposites – the prince of peace also acted decisively against injustice, and so should we. Therefore let us speak or act against injustice, whatever shade or form we come across it.

 



The Revd Israel Olofinjana is an ordained and accredited Baptist minister and has pastored Crofton Park Baptist Church before becoming the Team Leader at Catford Community Church in September 2011.


He writes a blog and is the author of Turning the Tables on Mission


First written for the Evangelical Alliance Friday Night Theology (FNT) on 20 September 2013


Related: The work of a Baptist minister is set to deepen understanding of missionaries from the Global South - or 'reverse missionaries' -  in the United Kingdom
Picture credit: Wikimedia commons
Israel Olofinjana, 27/09/2013
    Post     Tweet
With congregational singing not allowed for the foreseeable future, Colin Sedgwick has a suggestion that could lead to a deeper understanding of our psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
The virtual world can be a lifeline for those who would otherwise be excluded, writes Karen Golder, as she urges churches not to shut down their online presence at the end of this time
We are used to encouraging people to write their will. There is an even stronger case for getting them to write their eulogy
coronaresource
Telling 100 inspirational stories of Baptists embracing adventure in the mission of God - Simon Goddard introduces the new Missional Adventure portal on our website
missionaladventure
With churches experiencing increases in online attendances during the pandemic, there has been talk of a new move of the Spirit. I'm not convinced, writes Michael Shaw - but here's the revival I'd like to see
Now is exactly the time to pause before leaping back in, writes Ruth Rice. Can the Church be the prophetic people of wellbeing?
coronaresource
     The Baptist Times 
    Posted: 29/07/2020
    Posted: 23/07/2020
    Posted: 02/07/2020
    Posted: 22/06/2020
    Posted: 12/06/2020
    Posted: 11/06/2020
    Posted: 02/06/2020
    Posted: 02/06/2020
    Posted: 21/05/2020
    Posted: 16/05/2020
    Posted: 13/05/2020
    Posted: 06/05/2020
    Posted: 25/04/2020
    Posted: 20/04/2020
    Posted: 16/04/2020
    Posted: 13/04/2020
    Posted: 10/04/2020
    Posted: 09/04/2020
    Posted: 08/04/2020
    Posted: 03/04/2020