UNION — Regardless of skin color all human beings are created equal in the image of God who loves each and everyone of His children and wants His children to love one another as He loves them.
That was the message of the “Union County Unity Rally” held Friday evening on the steps of the Union County Courthouse. Approximately 50 people attended the rally which began with a march down Main Street from the Family Dollar story to the courthouse where the theme of the event, “Unity and Hope Among All,” was expressed in songs performed by Jantzen Childers and Shon Morris; in prayers lead by the Rev. Brad Goodale, pastor of Philippi Baptist Church, and the Rev. A.L. Brackett, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church; and in the Pledge of Allegiance lead by Union Public Safety Director Sam White.
It was also in the words of the two speakers who delivered the main addresses of the evening. The speakers were the Rev. Tommy Mann, pastor of Putman Baptist Church, and the Rev. James Mason, Moderator of the Pacolet River Baptist Association.
Mann began his address by speaking about the events which inspired the rally, the recent shootings in places such as Minnesota, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas and the ensuring racial unrest stemming from those incidents.
“My heart has been heavy over the past few weeks as we have seen what many would call racial unrest across our country,” Mann said. “Terrible events in Texas, Minnesota, and Louisiana have polarized our nation. There are strong feelings, and emotions are high. While we can’t do much about what is happening in other states, we can come together right here in our county.”
Mann also spoke about the origins of modern racism and how it stands in contradiction to both Biblical and scientific truth.
“I keep hearing words like race, racial, and racism, but I don’t like that word race,” Mann said. “Until the 1850s the word race only referred to nationalities, like the English race, or the Spanish race. It had nothing to do with skin color. It wasn’t until Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species that the word took on a new meaning. He grouped people together by skin color, and his theory was that different races evolved over time, with some groups more evolved than others. This was the beginning of racism.”
Mann said that racism is a falsehood that is demonstrated to be false by both Biblical truth and scientific truth.
“Scientifically, there is only one race — the human race,” Mann said. “We are all homo sapiens. Scientists have now mapped out the human genome, and there is almost no difference between any two humans. In fact, the genetic difference between any two people is only .2%, and that is mostly attributed to different levels of melanin located in our skin. The only difference between us is that some are a little lighter and others a little darker, all in accordance with how God made us.
“In other words, red and yellow, black and white, we’re all precious in God’s sight,” he said.
Mann said that the Bible preaches against racism and the false divisions it creates among God’s children.
“I believe the blood of Jesus that flowed down from the cross was color blind, and ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,’” Mann said. “Now the Bible teaches that the greatest command is to love — to love God with all your heart, and to love everyone else the way you love yourself.
“In John’s vision of the end times, he saw people gathered around the throne from every kindred and nation and tribe and tongue — people from all walks of life,” he said. “If we’re going to get along up there, we should be able to get along down here. But if we can’t get along down here, I’m not convinced we will even make it up there. Loving others is now the test to see if we really love God.”
Mann concluded his remarks with a call for unity grounded in the message of the Bible.
“So life can’t be me versus you, or us versus them,” Mann said. “Let us focus on what unites us, not what divides us. Let us focus not on what is different, but on what we have in common. We are one. We are all Americans. We are all South Carolinians. We are all part of the human race. We are all created equal in the image of God. We are one. So let us love.”
In his address, Mason quoted “the drum major of the Sixties,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Mason also issued a Biblically-based call for love, unity, and hope.
“I believe that since God created us all in His image that those who are present today come to support and bond with one another by aid of the Spirit that He has placed in us,” Mason said. “A Spirit of Love, a Spirit of Unity and a Spirit of Hope.”
Mason cited the Epistle to the Romans by the Apostle Paul on the power of hope.
“The Apostle Paul penned in the latter part of Romans 5:5 that hope does not disappoint,” Mason said. “And we have this hope today that we here will let our light shine that it may spread to other counties, cities and states. We show this Unity today that even in adverse conditions that surround us that we come together in revival and not riots. We come together in Unity and Hope.
“This doesn’t mean that we forget those whose lives have been taken away for unnecessary reasons, because the series of events have affected all of us, but it does mean that we can still strive for love, hope and unity in the difficult situations of life,” he said. “I pray that right here in Union County that we continue to strive for the best in each other no matter the color of our skin and that we look toward the hills from whence cometh help.”
Mason concluded with a passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 about what it will take to heal the divisions that are causing chaos, pain, violence, death and tragedy in America.
If my people who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.