Recently, Amy Haynie, the editor of Episcopal Cafe, promised in a post that if readers provide feedback, they will get a response. That is simply not true, as I have written Amy privately with my concerns about the publication, and have sent both comments and an op-ed to her, only to be met with passive-aggressive silence.
So, below is my editorial in regard to the Sewanee bishop’s letter.
And for those who sent in contributions to Episcopal Cafe, only to be ignored, just know that your content is always welcome here on Anglican Watch.
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We live in a society marked by strife, injustice, and oppression, including structural racism. And while The Episcopal Church and other faith organizations have stated that they want to help end structural racism, the language of the Sewanee bishops’ letter reveals a church that is utterly clueless when it comes to these issues.
How so? Don’t the bishops rightly condemn the recent racist incidents at Sewanee?
The answer is simple. Yes, the bishops rightly condemn the recent string of racist incidents at the school, but they end with the language of the 1955 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education II:
“We trust the Vice Chancellor and the University Regents will together address these hateful acts with all deliberate speed.” (Emphasis added)
The “all deliberate speed” language was the weasel-wording of the Supreme Court that allowed states in the Deep South to turn a blind eye to segregation, resulting in the freedom rides, Freedom Summer, and the countervailing “massive resistance” policies in the South. Thus, segregation remained the de facto law of the land until the Supreme Court again waded in years later.
Thus, the language, while unintentional, is a dog whistle to racists, patently offensive to many, and establishes no timeline or accountability. It also shows that the church is profoundly out of touch with the realities of systemic racism.
The bottom line is this: The racist conduct at Sewanee needs to end today. No exceptions, no excuses, no “deliberate speed.”