The silence of the lambs

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One of the things that has concerned me is the way in which Christians on social media and blogs end up falling silent on difficult issues. I’m not talking about bloggers who choose not to comment on anything that might seem sensitive or political at all. Rather, there are plenty of people who have opinions on pretty much everything but when it comes to certain subjects go quiet. 

I’m also reflecting on the way in which people engage with what I tweet and write about. Some subjects get a lot of attention and others less. Bluntly, if I write about what a particular Bible passage has to say or a particular doctrine then I get less engagement than if I pick up on a particular topical controversy, whether that is in the church or in national politics. There are a few exceptions and one of them is anti-Semitism. I get far less engagement on this than on other topics.

So, I started asking a few questions. I asked others about what interaction they had. One prominent Christian leader contacted me privately to say that they had tweeted about anti-Semitism following the EHRC report and whereas his tweets usually get lots of replies, likes and retweets this got zilch. I also asked leading blogger, David Robertson and he said that he had written about the issue at the last General Election and including material in podcasts since.  His experience was that he did get a high level of engagement.  However a lot of people considered his response to political and too extreme!  Mind you he seemed to think that this was no more negative a reaction than to his normal commentary. In fact, he said that the mail-bag was far more negative in response to his writing on #BlackLivesMatter.

I also ran two polls. The first asked bloggers if they had written about anti-Semitism in the last few years or were about to.

The second invited those who had not blogged on the subject to comment why.

 Now, this wasn’t a massive poll (I’m not sure if I should even read something into the response rate) but the results do seem to reflect my gut feeling.

Also interesting were the comments that followed. One blogger did say that this type of topic did not fit with their blog type. Another said that they wrote often about the Jewishness of Jesus and the Scriptures.  That generated a little conversation and comment. My own response to that is to welcome the contribution. However, I would want to say that whilst it is good to put the right foundations for our theology down, sometimes we need to do a little more in the way of correcting faulty ones.  Furthermore, I would suggest that it is possible to recognise the Jewishness of Jesus the Messiah whilst still holding anti-Semitic views of Jews today.

I think this is something we need to look at further. I’d particularly like to know more about why some feel that the topic would not be of interest to their readers and why a number don’t think they know enough about this prominent and important topic.  Most concerning of all is that there is at least one person online who will not blog on anti-Semitism because it will lead to abuse.  There is also at least one Christian blogger out there brave (?) enough to admit that they don’t think that the corruption of public life with the same toxic hatred that led to the death of 6 million people within recent history is an issue.

Meanwhile the proper big hitters seem fairly silent.

I remain concerned that this is an issue simply not on our radar -a particularly toxic form of racism that Christians should not be silent on.  I hope that others will start to engage soon.

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