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Facing up to the legacy of racism

Major societal issues tackled at Q Conference in Nashville

One speaker at a major cultural conference in the USA this week received a standing ovation for courageously tackling the contentious topic of reparations for African-American people.

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Duke Kwon, senior pastor of Grace Meridian Hill, Washington DC, pulled no punches as he addressed a topic with parallels for white Australian Christians. He reminded the 2,000 plus audience at Q Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, that Christianity had been used to enslave black people.

“We have not yet fully reckoned with our Christian responsibility for the legacy of racism in American society.” – Duke Kwon

“As The National Committee for Black Churchmen once put it, ‘the Church was the moral cement for the structure of racism in our nation,’” said Kwon.

“Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have not yet fully reckoned with our Christian responsibility for the legacy of racism in American society.”

Kwon’s provocative presentation has been one of the stand-outs at Q Conference, the brainchild of Gabe Lyons. Fifteen years ago, Lyons quit his paid job, as he and his wife Rebekah sought to understand what it meant for Christians to redeem the culture they live within.

In a remarkable break from the tradition of most conferences, female speakers dominated the platform.

Q (which stands for Questions) is driven by an overarching purpose to engage with and impact the ‘seven channels’ of culture – media, business, government, education, arts and education, church and the social sector. One of the explicit aims of Q Conference 2018 is to encourage Christians to “advance the common good in our cultural moment.”

Reparations was just one of the current societal issues tackled on the first day. The scene was set when the event opened in semi darkness with a remarkable rap version of Amazing Grace performed by author, writer and hop hop musician Sho Baraka.

In a remarkable break from the tradition of most conferences, female speakers dominated the platform. Lisa Thompson, Vice President of the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation, laid the blame for the normalisation of pornography firmly at the feet of Hugh Hefner.

“A pornographer and pimp was celebrated … as a champion of civil rights.” – Lisa Thompson

Ms Thompson expressed horror at the way the Playboy founder was eulogised when he died last year. “A pornographer and pimp was celebrated – he was celebrated – as a champion of civil rights, of free speech and of sexual freedom,” she said.

Ms Thompson told delegates that the Playboy philosophy was a dogma of male sexual entitlement, which dissects women, children and men from their humanity.

“At its heart, it teaches a sexuality that is detached, disengaged, indulgent, adversarial, predatory and even pathological.”

The day’s session ended on a high note as Sicilian grandmother and author Lisa Bevere spoke of courage – of a world where men and women, the older generation and the future millennials work together, for the good of all.

The conference concludes on Friday, April 13.

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