America not as divided as media make it seem, Senate Chaplain Barry Black says
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Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias launched a new initiative Wednesday evening, convening dozens of elected officials, senior government staff, business people and academic leaders from both sides of the aisle to discuss political division in the United States.
The inaugural Ravi Zacharias International Ministries "At the Table" event was held on the top floor of the historic Hay-Adams Hotel overlooking the White House, in which attendees engaged in a night of dialogue about the "hope for our divided nation" over dinner and drinks.
The new initiative will be a series of events engaging "crucial issues of the day through the prism of a Christian worldview."
"At the Table" aims to be a place where the "exchange of ideas and hospitality meet."
As much has been made in the media about the ongoing political divisions in the U.S., the night featured a 45-minute panel discussion featuring the 73-year-old Indian-born apologist and author, African-American Republican Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, and former Obama campaign faith outreach director Michael Wear.
Moderated by British journalist Rob Gifford, panelists pushed back against the notion that the nation is as divided as many make it out to be. Some contended that the nation is not nearly as divided as it has been in the past.
"I'm startled many times when I hear news people pontificating about how terrible things are," the 70-year-old Black, a former rear admiral in the Navy, said.
"And I'm [wondering], 'Is this an alternative universe that I'm looking at?' Because I know what bad looks like and this is not as bad as it's been."
Black, an African American, opined that too often "division is given a black eye" and told the story of how a Democrat senator recently told him that "this is one of the most challenging times in the history of humanity." Black said he responded to the senator by saying that "slavery was pretty bad."
"The reality is that there has always been division," Black said. "Jesus, in His John 17 intercessory prayer, prays, 'Father, make them one, as we are one.' And when you look at some of the periods of division in the nation and what we've been able to overcome, you know, the question 'Is hope possible?' is almost rhetorical."
"I tell journalists very frequently there hasn't been a caning on my watch," he continued, referring to the caning of Sen. Charles Sumner in 1865 over the issue of slavery. "I've been in the Senate for 16 years. No one has walked over from the House and beat a guy into next week with a cane."
Black even asserted that political division shouldn't bother Christians in America because of the promise made in Romans 8:28.
"If you believe Romans 8:28 — 'In everything God is working for the good of those who love Him, who are the called according to His purposes' — then division shouldn't bother you at all because God has used division," he said.
Gifford questioned Black on whether he was saying that things are not as bad as "we sometimes like to make them out to be."
"We don't have the kinds of assassinations that we had. We don't have the towns burning that we had back in the day," Black responded. "So yeah, I think we are very often hyperbolic and [claiming that] the sky is falling."
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