Award-winning Christian singer Natalie Grant and her husband, composer Bernie Herms, revealed they’ve lost thousands of fans after speaking up against racism following the death of George Floyd.
In response, Grant hosted an Instagram Live conversation Wednesday with a few of her black friends on racial issues in America to help educate herself and her followers.
"Maybe you're like me and you've said, 'I'm not a racist.' I mean, I'm not a racist. And if you are a white Christian in America, I'm going to guess you've probably actually said that,” Grant said. “What I am learning in humility is that just because I've never acted, or said, or bought into a racist rhetoric, that my silence doesn't make me not a racist, that my silence actually adds to the problem of racism.”
Grant said she and her husband read John 15:12 before jumping on the live video.
“'Love one another.' To love as He has loved us because that love is this: that you would lay down your life for a friend. I don't think that only speaks to actually dying for a friend. Personally, for me, it also means laying down platform, reputation and taking a risk,” she shared.
"What's funny is Bernie and I have actually lost several thousand followers in the last five days because we posted about this issue, which, for me, shows the very thing I'm saying — it's a heart issue. At the very center of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of reconciliation. That's the center of the message of the Gospel.”
On social media, her husband further exposed some of the feedback they’ve received for speaking out against racism.
"You should just shut up...," "Stick to what your best at," "Just keep writing and singing your songs," "You're not helping," "You're just another out of touch liberal celebrity creating more division,’” Herm wrote, quoting negative comments he's received, on Instagram.
"These are just a very few of the actual comments left on mine and Natalie's post about George Floyd's tragic and horrendous murder. As America burns this week. And as racial injustice has reached a boiling point to where our black communities feel collective grief, vulnerability and rage - the comments above (that represent part of the status quo which sadly includes some parts of the American church) prefer that I shut up.”
The musician asked what would his silence actually be saying if he did refrain from speaking out?
"I'm not a composer, I'm not a producer, I'm not a musician, I'm not an entrepreneur, I'm not a liberal, I'm not a conservative. I'm not an American Christian, I am a Christian American, in that order,” he declared. "[A]s a human being created in the image of God and called to be an agent of God's kingdom here on earth, I am outraged at injustice and racism.”
Herms ended the post with a quote that his wife echoed, "Cultural Christianity hijacks the gospel. Kingdom Christianity fulfills the gospel.”
Grant noted that some have expressed being "exhausted" by the recent discussions on racism. "Ask the Holy Spirit what it is you're exhausted about," she advised.
"I never can find anywhere in the Scripture where Jesus said, 'Will you give a quiz to the person that's hurting and will you find out whether or not it’s justified? And if it’s justified in your mind then love them, if it’s justified in your mind try and understand and show compassion.' Or does He just say, 'Love one another'?"
The couple’s Instagram Live addressed several questions such as why the death of one man caused so much collective pain and the meaning of Black Lives Matter to black people who are not politicizing that phrase. They also tackled white privilege and systemic racism.
Grant's black friends, including two from her church — The Belonging Co in Nashville — and her former manager, encouraged others to educate themselves, “be unoffendable” and use their privilege for good.
"To me, it’s unfortunate that Black Lives Matter has become so politicized or even racism has become so politicized because it feels like you are using my experiences as a black person in America as a political pawn," one of Grant's church friends lamented through tears.
She mentioned a meme showing Jesus' sermon on the mount where He says, "Blessed are the poor," while someone in the crowd yells, "Actually, all people are blessed."
"This is what we’re addressing right now," Grant's friend illustrated.
"There is an immediate association with Black Lives Matter to liberalism or you’re automatically against anything conservatives stand for. This is not us vs. Trump or Democrats vs Republicans. We’re literally just pleading for our lives to be considered in the same way anyone else’s should be. All lives do matter, yes, but all lives will matter when black lives matter."