Milligan's Passivity During the Civil Rights Movement: Its Theological Roots and the Hopeful Movement Towards an Active Approach to Social Justice
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Throughout the history of racial injustice, there have been Christian institutions that have refused to side with racial justice. This should be a concern for any person wanting to live as Jesus called us to. During the Civil Rights era, the well known Evangelical movement was led by Billy Graham, who made great steps in the field of evangelizing but is not well known for speaking out against racial injustice. Amidst that broader Christian context was Milligan College, a Christian liberal arts institution of higher education founded upon the ideals of the Stone-Campbell movement. This paper describes Milligan's response to the Civil Rights Movement based upon articles from the school's newspaper, The Stampede. Articles from the late 1960s reveal an institution that decided to enact change on their campus, including integration. However, that resolution came fifteen years after the United States government had made that decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Milligan did not lead the charge for racial justice. From there, the paper will explore the aspects of the Stone-Campbell movement in which we might find the roots of Milligan's response during the Civil Rights era. Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell's responses to slavery during their time will be used to explore the relationship between social reform and the Christian Gospel according to their theologies, with Alexander Stone favoring unity over an outright renunciation of slavery and Barton Stone speaking and living against the institution. With an understanding of the movement's different approaches to slavery, the paper will then explore how Milligan and the Stone-Campbell Movement could move forward towards better participating in the redemptive work of healing racial injustices.