Dear Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni,
I am deeply grieved by the murder of George Floyd, recorded in brutal and gruesome clarity, broadcast over and over on social media. It reminds me of other senseless deaths in the last few weeks, like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Real people. Shattered families. Life plans swept away in an instant. Potential to contribute to society lost. The list of Black lives lost goes on and on. Every name on that list matters to God. Every name should matter to us. It should matter that the list of those who died before them goes back centuries.
That list is spawned by racism, prejudice against groups of people based on the lie that they are collectively inferior. I have heard it all my life and have seen its effects. We saw it when Christian Cooper was being set up for false arrest in Central Park a few days ago. Racism is so clearly at odds with the biblical truth that all humans have value, have equal worth and have great potential because all humans equally bear the image of God.
Clarks Summit University and Baptist Bible Seminary exist to help students understand God’s Word and learn to integrate its truths into every aspect of life. For that reason, CSU will not tolerate expressions of racism and injustice in our school family, whether on campus or online. We will intentionally be on guard against it. That seems like such a basic biblical aspiration, but we know that it is a daunting project. I wish we could get it right every time, but we will ask forgiveness when we don’t and make the changes that we should make.
While racism has been directed at many groups, right now we need to encourage and strengthen the Black community in general and our Black students in particular. We recognize that this is not their issue alone. It is ours.
Racism thrives where truth is suppressed. According to Romans 1, suppressing truth leads to a blindness that affects every area of life. That’s why racism is so pervasive, why it is evident all through history and in every culture. That’s why talking about it once will not make it go away. It is sin.
We are opposed to racism whether it is expressed individually or systemically. Jesus told us in Matthew 22:37–40: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” These two Great Commandments call us to love God and to love our neighbor. There is no love for God that does not also love others. True love acts.
We are grateful for the varied racial and cultural backgrounds of our students, and we want all of them to grow in the knowledge of God and gain the skills to serve Him in their ministries and careers. We want our students of color to be confident that we value them.
Don’t fear the right that American citizens have for peaceful assembly to draw attention to a cause like this. As a school, we need to pray, to love and to speak truth. I call on you to examine yourself, to remove elements of racism you find in your heart, to oppose racism and to love others who may have never experienced God’s love. This will honor Jesus Christ.
James R. Lytle, D.Min.