Our country requires a revival of love of God and neighbor and a new birth of civil rights rooted in the only firm foundation: the natural law and the truth about the human person. America has a deficit of love, of authentic freedom and truth, and of respect for human dignity—which manifests itself in part through racial discrimination and unjust inequality. It has led to police misconduct and racial discrimination in our criminal justice system, and to the disproportionate suffering that COVID-19 has wrought in many communities of color.
Racial injustice is part of the culture of death. To build a culture of life in America, we need a revival of God’s love and a new era of civil rights. As a black man, I am pained to learn of police officers killing unarmed black people. As an attorney who has also worked as a staffer in Congress and the executive branch, I have seen that the majority of law enforcement officials are good people seeking to protect and serve. However, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system continues in the form of racial profiling, police misconduct, and discriminatory criminal sentencing. Our country has not fully realized the central American creed: Every person—born and unborn—is endowed by his Creator with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Further criminal justice reform is still needed.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has also exposed racial inequality in our health care system. Many black communities already had unequal access to medical care, inadequate access to preventative health and wellness options, and insufficient health education. These health disparities have made it more difficult for many in these communities to fight the virus. Even once this health crisis ends, many African American communities will still not have the medical care they deserve. Historical patterns of racial exclusion have exacerbated negative health care outcomes. Ensuring that the vulnerable have access to proper medical care is necessary to restoring a culture of life.
Strong leadership is needed to achieve racial equality in our society. While it is important to affirm the truth that black lives matter, unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter organization (BLM) itself is ill-equipped to lead. Black lives do matter—the phrase is correct that all God’s people deserve love, dignity, truth, and freedom. Our brothers and sisters who peacefully protest for justice with signs of “black lives matter” march justly. However, there is a difference between asserting “black lives matter” and the BLM organization itself, which is seriously flawed.
In the section of the BLM website entitled “What We Believe,” BLM endorses gender ideology and the disruption of the natural family unit. It declares that “we disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” The same section of their website states that “[w]hen we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).” BLM asserts a worldview of moral relativism that recognizes no objective truth, “disrupts” the natural family, and undermines the natural law foundation of civil rights. Its agenda divides people in an arbitrary manner that will, ironically, lead to greater strife especially for black families.
True justice is based on the foundational principle of civil rights: each person’s God-given natural rights as embodied in the natural law. Thanks to the natural law, abolitionists knew slavery was wrong even though civil law said it was right, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew segregation was wrong even though the voting majority in many states likely supported it. The natural law is the only basis for preserving every person’s rights when a government passes unjust laws and when the voting majority suppresses minority rights.
By advocating for gender ideology, BLM rejects the basic truths of human dignity in the natural law. Gender ideology replaces the scientific and biological reality of maleness and femaleness with the false belief that one’s sex can be changed. However, as both Pope Francis and the African Cardinal Robert Sarah have asserted, gender ideology is a false construct with no basis in scientific reality. Gender ideology is destructive because it rejects the truths of male and female existence. There can be no dignity or freedom without truth.
A new era of authentic love and justice is needed and will begin with a Christian revival of love for God and neighbor. This love is the only force powerful enough to bring lasting healing. The Christian faithful must rededicate themselves to love through spiritual and corporal works of mercy that serve communities of color and the vulnerable. We must give the best of the Church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to those on the peripheries. With the Church’s collaboration, the private sector and government should bring about a rebirth of civil rights. Such a rebirth in law enforcement would end the vestiges of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Such a rebirth in health care would vigorously defend the dignity, health, and health care civil rights of all while significantly expanding medical care access.
The Catholic health care nonprofit I lead, the Christ Medicus Foundation, has begun this rebirth of civil rights by vigorously defending the right of conscience and religious freedom in health care; launching a new health care civil rights task force to advocate for the right of all people to receive appropriate medical care; and working to make Christ-centered medical care more accessible.
God calls us to do justice in bringing about the Kingdom of God and building up the culture of life. Agendas opposed to human dignity strengthen the culture of death, and can never lead us toward justice. As Christians, we must charge ahead in the love of Christ to lead a revival of God’s love and bring about a new era of Christian humanism in America.
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