Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, colour, social conditions, language or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.Gaudium et Spes para 29, 1965
Some people claim that the Roman Catholic Church contradicts its own teachings by not allowing women to become priests. In its defence, the Church answers that a priest stands in the place of Jesus who was a man, and points to the tradition of male priests for over two thousand years.
Many Christians today actively fight prejudice and discrimination in all its forms.
One of the best known Christian leaders who fought against racial prejudice and discrimination was Martin Luther King Jr, an American clergyman, activist, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. This started through a simple act of defiance when a black woman, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger when ordered to do so by the bus driver. She was later arrested.
Through death threats, multiple arrests, and several attempts against his life, Martin Luther King Jr was consistent in his application of the Biblical principles, taught by Jesus to:
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.Matthew 5:44
Throughout history, many racist actions and institutions, eg slavery, have been justified using stories from the Bible, or Christian churches have simply turned a blind eye to them. Some even justified the apartheid system in South Africa through the Christian faith.
Over time, most Christian churches have come to see these injustices for what they are and have spoken out against them, recognising them as perversions of the Christian message. Similarly in places like Northern Ireland, where religious differences have been a trigger for violence and persecution, Christian groups like the Corrymeela Community are working for peace and reconciliation.