By John Inazu January 6
Last week the news spread quickly among evangelicals: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, one of the nation’s largest evangelical college ministries, had purportedly endorsed the #BlackLivesMatter movement during a major missions conference in front of 16,000 college-aged students. This was big news in some circles.
Although many evangelical organizations have assumed prominent roles in cultural debates over issues such as abortion and sexuality, fewer have publicly engaged in questions of racial justice with consistency. Writing for Religion News Service, Tobin Grant suggested that this could be “a watershed moment in American evangelicalism.”
InterVarsity clarified that it hadn’t “endorsed” #BlackLivesMatter, a fact that will disappoint some and relieve others. Its news release made clear that “InterVarsity does not endorse everything attributed to #BlackLivesMatter” but that the ministry is nevertheless “co-belligerents with a movement with which we sometimes disagree because we believe it is important to affirm that God created our Black brothers and sisters.”
InterVarsity’s engagement with #BlackLivesMatter sparked a larger debate within some corners of evangelicalism over an important question: Do black lives matter enough to most evangelicals? Evangelicals have long struggled with race relations, an issue particularly acute and relevant in major urban areas.
Could it be that black lives don’t matter enough to many evangelicals?
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