A Lesson in Faith and Racial Healing

Readability

A Lesson in Faith and Racial Healing

[cap­tion id=“attachment_90105” align=“aligncenter” width=“800”]A protestor in Tulsa with two members of the local police force (Courtesy of the Tulsa World) A pro­tes­tor in Tulsa with two mem­bers of the local police force (Cour­tesy of the Tulsa World)[/caption]

Faith in God. Faith in the com­mu­nity. Faith in the sys­tem. That is why Tulsa, Okla­homa, didn’t devolve into race riots after the shoot­ing of a black man by a white police officer.

Many res­i­dents took to the pews, while other cities, fac­ing sim­i­lar issues, took to the streets with loot­ing and riots. Tulsa, often called “the buckle of the Bible belt,” is dif­fer­ent because of its faith. South­ern Bap­tists and evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the com­mu­nity of 400,000 peo­ple. Oral Roberts Uni­ver­sity has its cam­pus there.

The eth­nic makeup of the city par­al­lels that of the nation. Accord­ing to the 2010 U.S. Cen­sus, slightly more than 60 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion is white; 15 per­cent is African-​American, and 14 per­cent is Hispanic.

The city has had its racial trou­bles, includ­ing a major riot many years ago. The police have faced both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive reviews over the years.

This is tragic – and some­thing all of us should spend time reflect­ing on so we can make a bet­ter nation,” the Rev. Teron Gad­dis, rep­re­sent­ing the Okla­homa Bap­tist State Con­ven­tion, said. “This is not a race issue, a Cau­casian or black issue.”

The rev­erend is black. Had a white leader said the shoot­ing of a black man was not a racial issue he would have been chas­tised for tak­ing up the “All Lives Mat­ter” banner.

Even The New York Times and CNN had to admit that reli­gion played a role in keep­ing the peace. Still, the media pro­vided wall-​to-​wall cov­er­age of the upheaval in Char­lotte, with only a pass­ing ref­er­ence to the peace­ful scenes from Okla­homa, includ­ing a Black Lives Mat­ter pro­tester hold­ing hands with a white and a black police officer.

Every­one needs to look at Tulsa as an exam­ple of how to stop racial divi­sion. Riots don’t work; prayer does.


Christo­pher Harper, a recov­er­ing jour­nal­ist with The Asso­ci­ated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Wash­ing­ton Times, teaches media law.

A protestor in Tulsa with two members of the local police force (Courtesy of the Tulsa World)
A protestor in Tulsa with two members of the local police force (Courtesy of the Tulsa World)

Faith in God. Faith in the community. Faith in the system. That is why Tulsa, Oklahoma, didn’t devolve into race riots after the shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Many residents took to the pews, while other cities, facing similar issues, took to the streets with looting and riots. Tulsa, often called “the buckle of the Bible belt,” is different because of its faith. Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians play a significant role in the community of 400,000 people. Oral Roberts University has its campus there.

The ethnic makeup of the city parallels that of the nation. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, slightly more than 60 percent of the population is white; 15 percent is African-American, and 14 percent is Hispanic.

The city has had its racial troubles, including a major riot many years ago. The police have faced both positive and negative reviews over the years.

“This is tragic–and something all of us should spend time reflecting on so we can make a better nation,” the Rev. Teron Gaddis, representing the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, said. “This is not a race issue, a Caucasian or black issue.”

The reverend is black. Had a white leader said the shooting of a black man was not a racial issue he would have been chastised for taking up the “All Lives Matter” banner.

Even The New York Times and CNN had to admit that religion played a role in keeping the peace. Still, the media provided wall-to-wall coverage of the upheaval in Charlotte, with only a passing reference to the peaceful scenes from Oklahoma, including a Black Lives Matter protester holding hands with a white and a black police officer.

Everyone needs to look at Tulsa as an example of how to stop racial division. Riots don’t work; prayer does.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.