“Benjamin Mays on the Christian Response to Social Justice and Race Relations”
“Inequality is inherent in segregation. To expect equality in segregation is to expect too much of unregenerated human nature…What is the Christian’s responsibility?
If we say we believe in democracy and deny it to Jews, Mexicans, Japanese, Roman Catholics, labor or management, Negroes, or any others, we do not really believe in democracy.
If we say we believe that the life of each individual is of intrinsic value and is sacred unti God and if at the same time seek to exploit the individual and to take advantage of him, we do not believe in his intrinsic worth.
If we say that we believe in justice for all people, irrespective of race, and proceed to segregate, deny the ballot to, deny jobs to, and discriminate educationally against certain groups in the population on the grounds of race, we do not really believe in justice.
If we say we believe that evert American should have equality of opportunity to develop his mind and character and do not work toward that end, we do not believe what we say.
The great pronouncements of the Christian religion on race and the great findings od modern science about race must somehow be acted upon by individuals who believe them before they can mistake any difference in real life…
A Christian never would debate the question, ‘What will happen to my job?, He would obey God and trust him for results. If the Christian will act in those areas where he has complete control, his power to act will grow and he will be able to act on his beliefs in more dangerous zones. Even in areas where thr Christian does not have complete control, he can act on his beliefs. The man who owns a business can do a great deal by setting up policy of hiring and promoting people on the basis of character and competence, never on the basis of race. Throughout the centuries, men devoted to a higher loyalty to transform it. Man does not have to be a slave to his environment…
The basic issue of life are not polical nor economic. They are religious–God, man, ethics, and spiritual values…If we could ever get the proper attitude toward God and man, we could more easily settle our political, economic, and social questions. I am talking about a belief in God that expresses itself in action. The true Christian not only has faith that leads to action, but he has faith that ultimately the results of his action will be good. ”
— Benjamin E. Mays, “Seeking to be Christian in Race Relations” (1957)