Editor’s note: This article was originally published on faithfullymagazine.com in January 2016 but was lost due to a database error. It was recovered and republished on June 8, 2019.
NEW YORK — Christian activist Jim Wallis said he was grateful that Martin Luther King, Jr. was more than a civil rights leader. King was also a minister who “spoke in the language of sin and repentance,” the kind of language that must be used to talk about racism, according to Wallis.
“Until we talk about racism in that language, I don’t think we’re gonna get to all of the things we have to change and fix, like the criminal justice system, our policing system, education, the economy, all the rest,” Wallis said to a small, mostly-White crowd at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City Tuesday night.
The gathering was organized by Union Theological Seminary and Demos. The featured panel discussion on racism was the first of many Wallis will be holding at notable churches in cities that have been the focus of headlines amid the Black Lives Matter movement. The discussions are based on Wallis’s new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, which he described as a “roadmap” or “path of repentance.”
The language of “sin” and “repentance” is necessary particularly for White Christians because of slavery and its legacy, he argued.