Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly spoke out against the root cause of problems in the African American community on Tuesday; although he pointed out many issues that need reform, O’Reilly seemed to prescribe a “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” solution to the troubles in the community – one that is in conflict with the Gospel.
O’Reilly is a conservative political commentator on the Fox News Channel program “The O’Reilly Factor.” He has written ten books, and was formerly the host of a nationally syndicated radio show. O’Reilly began his segment, “President Obama and the Race Problem,” by saying that many key African American leaders in America, including the President, have done little to confront and to help resolve the issues that the African American community faces. “Young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined … they blame guns, poor education, lack of jobs, rarely do they define the problem accurately,” said O’Reilly. He cited the dissolution of the African-American family as the reason for such widespread “chaos.”
“White people don't force black people to have babies out of wedlock. That's a personal decision,” O’Reilly said of the 73% of African American babies are conceived out of wedlock. “Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that; again, it is a personal decision,” he said. O’Reilly also rebuked African American parents for allowing their children to have appalling celebrity role models.
O’Reilly’s conclusion was that African Americans ought to discipline their children more, especially if their children are involved with drugs and violence. He thinks that programs should dissuade women in African American communities from getting pregnant, and that school uniforms should be mandatory for children. “It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President Obama to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and grievance and lead the way out of this mess,” he said.
While O’Reilly’s comments may be true, they seemed to lack grace. Yes, we know that fatherlessness is rampant in the African American community – and this is heartbreaking. Yes, we realize that African Americans have been historically more involved in criminal activity than have other races. Yes, these problems are largely due to poor moral choices and a lack of guidance from parents. It is also influenced by the oppression that African Americans have suffered historically in the United States. However, O’Reilly’s solution to these problems is lacking – no one can do it on their own. We all need help - and not from government funding, nor from great teaching, or a “can-do” attitude – what we need is the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us walk in the way of righteousness. Without Him, we will fall prey to the same temptations over and over again, despite our efforts to try to get out of whatever sin-cycle is keeping us from true improvement.
Dr. Tony Evans, a renowned African-American Christian pastor and author, says that while many other children in his neighborhood were not as fortunate, he was blessed to have had a father who sought after the Lord and shepherded his children well. In a message encouraging men and women to mentor underprivileged children, Dr. Evans shared with gratitude that his father was a dedicated family man and follower of Jesus Christ. “Even when there was no work … he still maintained his leadership. That’s because he was committed to Jesus Christ as his Ruler and King and he brought that home. That transformed our whole family,” he said.
Evans says his father was a “Kingdom Man” - “So many men today are not like my Dad. And it’s much worse than it was when I was growing up - when we began to see this trend of fatherlessness begin to spiral out of control … We need to resurrect a generation of men – but not just males – Kingdom Men. Men who live and operate under the authority of Jesus Christ.”
Dr. Evans asks Christians to consider mentoring, tutoring, and providing support for single-mother families in an effort to “salvage a generation that is in desperate need of hope.” Evans has also written a book, “Kingdom Men: Every Man’s Destiny, Every Woman’s Dream” to encourage men to step up as dedicated leaders of their household and followers of Jesus Christ.