Probably the most important verse in the Bible (King James version) is “But I say unto you that ye resist not evil …” (Matthew 5:39), what most people know as the verse that concerns turning the other cheek. Nietzsche thought it the single most important verse in sacred literature. Tolstoy wrote an entire book — “The Kingdom of God Is Within” — explaining it and how to live by it. Gandhi read Tolstoy and, despite being a non-Christian, adopted the verse as the foundation for his successful nonviolence campaign against the British. Martin Luther King Jr. made it the centerpiece of his civil rights campaign.
What we have seen these last few days from the family members and congregation of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, reacting to tragedy is the finest example of following this admonition. It is true Christianity as its founder intended and should shame all who seek to blame and divide. It has uplifted many of us as we struggle with this tragedy.
In contrast, in the last few weeks, we learned that Franklin Graham was pulling his ministry’s monies out of Wells Fargo because Wells Fargo ran a commercial which featured two women adopting a child. This is the cheap and petty version of Christianity; the one that traffics in people’s hatred. This is the type of hatred of others that motivated the killer of the innocents at the church.
Gandhi and King changed the world by following Christ’s admonition. Graham’s petty version of Christianity seeks only to pull us all down and to divide us.
Michael T. Tusa Jr.