On the Impossiblity of Being a Moderate on Issues of Justice


Houston: You have written about moderation and the fact that, especially as the movement went on, there was perhaps an unfair characterization of moderates in the civil rights movement. Do you still feel that way? … If so, how do you look at moderates, especially white moderate southerners now that the movement has progressed over time?

Campbell: I don’t really know what the term “moderate” means in terms of race. You either believe that all people are equal or you don’t. If you don’t, then you are a racist. You are an extremist. If you say, “well, I believe that we are equal in some ways and some ways we are not,” that doesn’t makes you a moderate. It makes you a racist. Now, I think I know how people used the word back during the movement. Anybody who said moderate meant, “well, let’s don’t try to do it overnight.” Generally, in my observation, people who said, Rome wasn’t built in a day, they just meant Rome couldn’t be built. If you are not going to do it right away, then you weren’t going to do it. If you say, “well, we will do it next year,” well, you are an extremist to the people who say never, and there were a lot of people who said never, and still some.

(Historian, Benjamin Houston, in an interview with Civil Rights leader and Baptist prophet, Will D. Campbell)

I went to speak at a PFLAG meeting this past week. There are a lot of people hurting because of the way we treat our LGBT sisters and brothers, our sons and daughters.

For whatever reason, I find myself writing a great deal about the issue of how the church welcomes—or fails to welcome—Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer people. I have been reminded that there are other issues in addition to this in the world, big issues, important issues, life-and-death issues—issues more important than “who gets to sleep with whom.” So, why don’t I concentrate on those a little bit more and give the “homosexual thing” a rest? Besides, winning people over from being “anti” to “pro” through the strength of arguments—no matter how impressive—doesn’t work well as a strategy.

On the Impossiblity of Being a Moderate on Issues of Justice — [D]mergent

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