Are ethnic minorities to blame for COVID-19? (Panel discussion)

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Yesterday, I took part in a panel discussion with Jose Galindes, pastor of Nueva Vida Con Cristo, the Spanish speaking church we helped plant a few years back. The starting question was “Are BAME communities to blame for the spread of COVID-19) in the UK? Jose also invited along some local councillors in Sandwell and a lovely couple from Raglan Road Christian Church.

The short answer to the question is “No!”

In the discussion, I made the following points.

We need to distinguish three things

  • Blame: This is often unhelpful in a situation like this and leads to shaming.
  • Responsibility. We can take responsibility for a situation and own our own failures even when we don’t feel that blame should be apportioned.  It was encouraging to see the Prime Minister starting to do this recently.
  • Impact: It is undeniable that people from ethnic minority communities are disproportionately affected by the virus. This is nothing to do with blame but with understanding why in order to better protect and treat.

We prefer to scapegoat certain groups and identify them as the problem. This is a way of avoiding the truth that we all have a problem called sin and need outside help, a saviour.

Our society has endorsed a culture of death. This is seen in its lack of care for the elderly. I believe in the one who is Lord of life and death and who doesn’t treat people as of less value because of age, disability or ethnicity.

The way to respond to a pandemic is to offer truth told in love. There is one who says that truth sets us free. The Bible also tells us that perfect love drives out fear.

My aim was to participate in a conversation that would be genuinely helpful to our communities in Sandwell whilst, without being heavy handed point people beyond the immediate issues towards the better hope we have in the Gospel. I believe we can do this gently as we engage in public life.

Have a watch here.