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By Rev. Ralph T. Newell

I am certainly not a prophet of doom or gloom, but I am carefully watching the natural events and the events that are caused by humanity and I wonder along with Habakkuk 1:2-3, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, violence! But you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflicts abounds” (NIV).

Now I must admit that God does answer Habakkuk in an astonishing way and lets him know that He (God) is aware and will bring about deliverance and justice. Permit me to transpose this from Old Testament to 21st Century and raise a few questions. I am not asking you to agree with me, I am only asking you to think. We have had national and international natural disasters through Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, tornadoes and earthquakes, etc. Did Habakkuk’s questions also include these? Let’s not forget the possible threat of war with the Koreans.

What about the shootings and killings of over 115 African-Americans by police officers since 2015? The massacre of 49 people at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016; What about the 59 killed in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino plus 500 wounded in Las Vegas October 2, 2017; How long?

Now there’s the issue that leads us to TAKING A KNEE: Many are stirred up because Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest of what he deems “wrongdoings against African- Americans and minorities in the United States.” This action led to many athletes vowing to take a knee during the playing and singing of the National Anthem. Now, before I move further with my discussion and thoughts, let me point out some facts about the Anthem that may or may not startle you. Caucasians were not the only ones who fought in the war of 1812 in defense of Fort M’Henry. African- Americans (slaves not freedmen) also fought in that war.” In 1814, Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The first verse is usually the only verse that is performed at ballgames or elsewhere and the last lines of this verse does not apply to Africans (slaves): “O say does that star–spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free (slaves were not free in 1812) and the home of the brave.” Now let us look at the whole third verse and I will underline the words that I want you to pay close attention to: “And where is that band who vauntingly swore, that the havoc of war and the battles’ confusion A home and Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight of the gloom or the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumphed doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And the fifth verse begins “O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!”

Do you see the mighty contradictions? Slaves were not free in 1812 or in 1814 and these injustices and atrocities are still being imposed upon people of color to a great degree even today. “How long?” the Prophet Habakkuk cried out to the Lord. God still speaks and if we listen we will learn how to take a knee. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still a part of God’s justice system: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (NIV).

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