As news spread and outrage grew over the recent killings of two black men at the hands of police officers last week, Andre Johnson made an observation – there was a collective lack of outrage from white clergy.
“Many in these churches, time and time again, have been collectively silent on the issues of police brutality. In the wake of yet another shooting of unarmed black people, many have asked, ‘Where is the Black Church?” Johnson, assistant professor of Communication at the University of Memphis, told NBCBLK. “While I understand the criticism, and at times leveled it myself, [what] I wanted to know was ‘Where was the white church?”
As a means of getting to the bottom of his own inquiry, Johnson, who also serves as senior pastor of Gifts of Life Ministries in Memphis, went to social media and sparked conversation with the hashtag, #WhiteChurchQuiet.
He announced the hashtag, which he thought was short and quaint, on Facebook and Twitter, and held a live chat September 21.
“I had only planned to go for an hour, but with many more joining in, I extended it by 30 minutes,” he said. “I understand that at one time during the night we were trending [on Twitter] at number 33 in the country.”
According to Johnson, a Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life poll found that 70 percent of white Christians do not believe there is a problem with policing in the African American community.
“I really would like the white church to reflect on what it means by staying silent on issues of race and police brutality. I would like them to reflect on what it means when they do not believe there is a problem with policing,” he said. “Until white people believe black people or what I call Black Truth, then nothing will happen."