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Is Imus Really All That Unique?

Steve Sjogren writes, "Okay, the verdict is in. Imus has been fired. But here's the question for those of us who are "church people." Is Imus unique? It is fine for us to take our stands on the extreme behaviors of radio hosts like long-time radio veteran Don Imus or Howard Stern. I don’t know about you, but the words of Jesus haunt me as I read the comments of others – “Clean up your own house first...”

I have sought to make it a practice to interact with not-yet believers every day of my life. My goal is to have five decent conversations a day with those coming toward Jesus. Some days I don’t hit my goal, but most days I do. Over time, I hear the same questions come up over and over again. One of the most common questions I hear is, “Why are church people so mean?”

There are many ways to answer that in a way that is respectful, loving and hopefully doesn’t cause the listener to become jaded toward the Church.

I usually say, “It comes down to modeling. Well-intentioned leaders have thought for quite a while that it is our calling as Jesus-followers to be right instead of being loving. I happen to believe that first we are loving, and then we’ll work on being right later…”

At some point we need to realize that boycotts, attempts to force this or that upon the culture is indeed one way to bring about change. Close your eyes for a few seconds and ask yourself, “Can I picture Jesus leading a boycott or organizing “a million-person march?” Such a scenario seems universes away from Jesus’ often-repeated words spoken as he stood before Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Showing mercy continually is one thing – a non-negotiable for his disciples. But forcing change – well, that’s when, in the words of many hundreds I have chatted with, we begin to be mean.

Here is the unsettling question that begs to be asked, “What about the massive racial inequity problems that lie unchallenged in the Evangelical world?” Anyone who is unaware of the racial inequality issue is either:
1.  Not paying attention to what is happening right under their noses;
2.  Has no racial inequity problem because everyone is the same race in their church or sadly, the most likely situation;
3.  The attitude exists, “Racial problem… here? We have that one licked bro! Ask anyone here…”

“Dissing” (showing disrespect – looking down upon someone in disapproval) can be done in many subtle ways so that we may not even notice we are doing it. It is like playing poker. It is impossible for some people to hide a good versus bad hand to those around them. No matter how hard they try, their heart’s true response comes out spontaneously.

What was once a blatant thing in the U.S. – name calling, forcing certain people to sit in segregated areas, is still present, is alive and well in the Evangelical church in the U.S., it is simply manifesting itself in more subtle forms.

The comments by Mr. Imus clearly showed a blind spot in his own heart. For us to come across with a “rally the forces” response sounds a lot like, “We have figured this one out… let us show the U.S. the way forward from our point of arrival…” This attitude demonstrates our own blind spots.

Read more of Steve’s thoughts (and an encouragement) here at ServantEvangelism.com

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This post has been viewed 455 times and was added on April 16, 2007 by Todd Rhoades.
Filed under: Leadership Issues  Leadership Development  
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  There are 6 Comments:
  • Posted by

    "What was once a blatant thing in the U.S. – name calling, forcing certain people to sit in segregated areas, is still present, is alive and well in the Evangelical church in the U.S., it is simply manifesting itself in more subtle forms.”

    This makes it more dangerous, folks. Those of us who are white don’t know what it’s like to buy a new SUV and be stopped four times in the first month by a cop asking “Hey son, is this your daddy’s car?” It’s demeaning and demoralizing, which is why the punishment Imus received (being fired) fit the crime.

    Racism is alive and well in USAmerica and is a hateful and horrible thing. We must root it out of our own hearts and lives first.

  • Posted by Chuck Warnock

    Unfortunately, the evangelical community was strangely silent in this whole episode.  I blogged about the racist/sexist comments of Don Imus, and asked the question, “ Where is our evangelical outrage at the use of the public airways for demeaning, degrading remarks directed at some remarkable young women?” Until we as evangelicals stand with those who are marginalized by society and seek justice for them, we are failing in our ministry to “the least of these.”

  • Posted by

    Of course what Imus said was stupid, racist, sexist . . . whatever you want to call it.  He probably got what he deserved.  But this incident was way overblown by politics. 

    Our culture promotes “entertainers” such as shock jocks and then sounds surprised when something like this happens.  We can’t have it both ways:  glorifying sexist, hatemongering rappers, comedians, and others and then pass moral judgement on them when they offend.  If you’re gonna play with fire, don’t come cryin’ when you get burned. 

    The issue that the church needs to go after is more than just racism, it’s about respect for one another as a whole and the consequences of idolizing those we shouldn’t.  BTW, whatever happened to forgiveness?  That aspect of this whole incident I feel was under-emphasized.

  • I don’t think that Mr. Imus is all that unique.  We have a serious problem in our world, let alone the United States.  The Church is yes, the most segregated place on Sunday morning between the hours of 11 am. and 1pm.  I believe that Mr. Imus’ comments are just a taste of how many feel in the US, black or white.  What bothers me is that, society act as if we don’t have a problem.  I’m sorry, we have problems.  We need to recognized that and deal with them full steam.  I am well aware of the fact that we are going to have “sin” and “sinful” people in the world.  However if we (the Church) are the light of the world, we must bring clarity and life to a dying world.  Yes, you are right we need to sweep the dirt off our own front porch before we deal with others.  So, I ask you the question, who is qualified to check him.  Or do we just let it be?  We cannot afford to let this type of foolishness go on, white or black. 


  • Posted by

    I’m neither white nor black, yet I’m very much offended by what Imus said and even offended that Todd seems to side with him.  Todd, racism exists in the US today and Imus made that very clear.  Had they been white girls playing for Rutgers, this incident probably would’ve never happened.  I’m very glad that Imus got fired.  Anyone that would use the radio airwaves to endorse racism as he did, deserves more than just getting fired, they deserve to be jailed.  Many White Christians seem to have a calous heart towards racism, perhaps because they don’t have to deal with it as much.  Instead of just letting our Black brothers and Sisters fight on their own, every believer, whether White, Asian, Hispanic, Indian or any other should’ve stood behind their black brothers as they stood up for their injustice.  If it happened to our White brothers, I’m sure they would want the support of other races as well.

    If wanting to see Imus fired is mean, then Jesus and the apostles must have been mean to denounce the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as well, who were men of influence (like Imus).

  • Posted by Todd Rhoades

    Peter… please read more closely… this post was written by Steve Sjogren (who’s a great writer by the way).

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone here stand up for what Imus said.  It was deplorable.


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