Ep. 16: When religious liberty covers racism

Jun 11, 2020

As the conversation about racial justice continues in our country, we dig in to talk about race and religious liberty. BJC Director of Education Charles Watson Jr. joins Amanda and Holly for a personal conversation about his experiences and how his work at BJC intersects with the work for racial justice. He tells his story and explains how a seminal speech at a BJC Luncheon on Juneteenth impacted the trajectory of his work at BJC. Amanda, Holly and Charles discuss how different ethnic communities view the phrase “separation of church and state” and why the work for religious freedom matters. Plus, in the third segment, they discuss how they are seeing religion respected in books and articles this week.

Segment 1: Introducing Charles Watson Jr. and a pivotal moment in 2015 (starting at 00:40)

Hear episode 15 of the podcast about the protests and the president’s photo op with a Bible at this link.

You can read a list of BJC’s current supporting Baptist bodies on our website at this link.

Last week, BJC published Amanda’s reflections on responding to racial injustice and the work of BJC’s Special Committee on Race and Religious Liberty, which began in the fall of 2019: Reflections in solidarity: Our work to do.

Holly mentioned this article about religious activism, distributed by Reuters and published by The New York Times: After George Floyd’s Death, a Groundswell of Religious Activism.

For more about the vigil various churches participated in on 16th Street in Washington, check out this article from the D.C. neighborhood blog Popville: Vigil Against Racism starts at 5pm on 16th Street NW.

Watch the Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle’s 2015 speech on Juneteenth at this link.

Juneteenth is June 19, one of the most popular celebrations of the abolition of slavery in the United States. On that date in 1865, news about the Emancipation Proclamation finally made its way to the state of Texas in an order from the Union army.

Read about the domestic terrorism committed in Charles’s hometown of Millen, Georgia, in 1919 at Carswell Grove Baptist Church with reporting by The New York Times: After a Summer of Racial Violence Across the U.S., a Century of Neglect.


Segment 2: Broadening our understanding of religious freedom and the separation of church and state (Starting at 20:34)

Since 2015, BJC names 10 young professionals each year as BJC Fellows. Learn more about the program at this link.

Learn more about the Newseum program that 2015 BJC Fellow Dr. Sabrina Dent led on religious freedom and African American perspectives at this link.

The Christians Against Christian Nationalism statement includes the phrase, “It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.” Read the entire statement and add your name by visiting christiansagainstchristiannationalism.org.


Segment 3: Respecting religion in our culture (starting at 40:24)

The Reuters story Holly mentions is the same as the one referenced in segment one:  After George Floyd’s Death, a Groundswell of Religious Activism.

Charles mentioned the book Long Shot: The Triumphs and Struggles of an NBA Freedom Fighter by Craig Hodges.

You can hear a conversation with Robert P. Jones and journalist Joy Reid about white supremacy and American Christianity at our BJC Luncheon, which will be a virtual event on June 26. Learn more and register for free at BJConline.org/luncheon.

Respecting Religion is made possible by BJC’s generous donors. You can support these conversations with a gift to BJC.