Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz on Why His Church Won't Be Saying 'All Lives Matter'

Hillsong NYC lead pastor Carl Lentz (L) interviews Christian Cultural Center Senior Pastor A.R. Bernard at the Hillsong NYC Conference on Aug. 4, 2016. | (Photo: Screen shot via Vimeo)

Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong NYC said in a message posted on Facebook Sunday that he and his church won't be chanting "all lives matter" because "right now, black lives apparently are worth less on our streets."

Following the shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott by police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, respectively, Hillsong NYC shared a message on Facebook from Lentz who elaborated on the church's stance and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lentz said: "At this church, we are not saying 'all lives matter' right now because this is a logical assumption that most reasonable people agree with. All lives are not at risk right now. We are saying black lives matter. Because, right now, black lives apparently are worth LESS on our streets. It's 'our fight' not 'their fight.'"

Once the post hit Facebook thousands of people liked and shared their comments concerning his statement.

"Thank you. In a time where many African-Americans in this nation are hurting, it's good to know that there are people that will stand with us and fight for us. Thanks for saying what needs to be said and not caring about backlash," one Facebook user wrote.

Another said, "When Jesus died, He died for all lives. Please think on that, God bless."

Someone else responded by adding: "Not anywhere on this post does it say all lives don't matter. It's a cry for help from the black community, and we as Christians are called to respond to the hurting."

After the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 5, Savanna Hartman, a pastor, mother and spoken-word poet, echoed Lentz's sentiments and challenged white Christians to stand with her in supporting Black Lives Matter.

"As white people you could say this is not a color thing. You could say it's a sin thing. You could say it's not one versus the other. But the fact of the matter is that we, as white people, we've got to accept our actions, we have to accept our role in this. We have to accept where we have let them down. We have to apologize and we have to do better. We have to do better," Hartman said in a 10-minute video posted on her Facebook page titled 'my very honest thoughts on ‪#‎AltonSterling‬ and what's happening to the black community right now.'"

"Black lives do matter. And it does not make me a bad person to just say black lives matter. They all do. They all do. They all do. Don't change it to all lives matter. Say their lives matter. Their lives matter," Hartman emphasized.

Last month, The Christian Post reported that during the Hillsong NYC conference held at the Barclays Center, Lentz asked Brooklyn megachurch Pastor A.R. Bernard: "How do you know if your theology is racist?"

 Bernard paused briefly then delivered his response.

"Well, let's make the distinction between racist and racism. Racist is a person who has a feeling of superiority above other people by virtue of that person's race," said Bernard, who is the founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York.

"Racism," he explained, "is the intentional violence, oppression, marginalization, disenfranchisement against a segment of the society based on race. So if your theology gives you a sense of superiority over other people, then that theology is racist," Bernard said.

"If you take it to the next step of engaging in acts of violence, whether overt or covert, or marginalization or the support of disenfranchisement and marginalization of a particular people because of their race, then now you have gone from being racist to engaging in racism," he added.

Lentz nodded in quiet approval to the tune of smattering applause. It had taken him nearly half an hour of discussion with Bernard before he was able to ask the question.

Bernard continued: "I grew up in racial realities. I was chased out of white neighborhoods. My father was white, my mother black, so I grew up as an interracial child but never knowing my father. And having to kind of choose where my identity was going to be. But America continues to be in an identity crisis. ...

"So we are in that crisis of identity, self-concept, meaning, sense of purpose, and we are dealing with issues that have not been resolved because they haven't been faced by America as a nation.

"You know, the powerful passage in proverbs 13:12, it says, 'hope deferred makes the heart sick.' So when you see shootings, which I don't agree with, whether it's in Dallas, shooting police officers, whether it's police officers assaulting citizens like in Baton Rouge, like in Minnesota, and the list goes on. These are symptoms of a hope that especially people of color have carried for a long time in this country," Bernard added.

Follow Jeannie Law on Twitter: @jlawcp

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