Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Evangelical Leaders Open Letter Condemning Christian Nationalism


Capitol Insurrection on January 6, 2021


Evangelical Leaders Statement
Condemning Christian Nationalism's role
in the January 6th Insurrection


"As leaders in the broad evangelical community, we recognize and condemn the role Christian Nationalism played in the violent, racist, anti-American insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6.

"We recognize the damage done by radicalized Christian Nationalism in the world, the church, and in the lives of individuals and communities. 

"We know from experts on radicalization that one of the key elements is a belief that your actions are "blessed by God" and ordained by your faith. This is what allows so many people who hold to a Christian Nationalism view to be radicalized. 

"While we come from varied backgrounds and political stances, we stand together against the perversion of the Christian faith as we saw on January 6, 2021. We also stand against the theology and the conditions that led to the insurrection.

"Over the centuries, there are moments when the Church, the trans-national Body of Christ-followers, has seen distortions of the faith that warranted a response. In ages past, the Church has responded by holding emergency councils in order to unilaterally denounce mutations of the Christian faith, and to affirm the core values at the heart of Christianity. It is in that spirit that we unite our voices to declare that there is a version of American nationalism that is trying to camouflage itself as Christianity -- and it is a heretical version of our faith. 

"Just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith, we feel the urgent need to denounce this violent mutation of our faith. What we saw manifest itself in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is a threat to our democracy, but it is also a threat to orthodox Christian faith. The word "Christian" means "Christ-like." As leaders in the Church, we do not agree on everything, but we can agree on this -- Christians should live in a way that honors Jesus, and reminds the world of Him. 

"As Jesus himself said, "They will know that you are my disciples by the way you love" (John 13:35). No Christian can defend the unChristlike behavior of those who committed the violence on January 6. Not only was it anti-democratic, but it was also anti-Christian. 

"On January 6 we saw the flags claiming Trump's name, calling for violence, and raising the name of Jesus. We saw images of a police officer being beaten with an American flag and another being crushed in a doorway. We know an officer was murdered in the act of insurrection. We witnessed the cross and the gallow being erected. We saw and heard the prayer the insurrectionists prayed from the Senate desk in Jesus' name. Many of us recognized the content, the structure, and the style of that prayer as matching our own churches and faith.
"But we reject this prayer being used to justify the violent act and attempted overthrow of the Government. 

"We have witnessed the rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ for its validity in the past, including the deadly actions in Charlottesville in 2017. We join our voices to condemn it publicly and theologically.

"We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak out now because we do not want to be quiet accomplices in this on-going sin. But we also want to celebrate the long tradition of prophetic Christian witness in this nation that has challenged white supremacy and violent Christian nationalism. Though the KKK in the South claimed the symbol of a Christain cross, prophetic Black Christians formed and discipled children in Birmingham, Alabama who led a nonviolent witness in the face of dogs and firehoses. Though an appeal to "biblical values" has been used to demonize immigrants, undocumented Christians in America today have led a movement that insists upon the dignity and full humanity of all undocumented people. There is a powerful Christian witness for the common good in our past and in our present. White evangelicals in America can grow in faithfulness by following this cloud of witnesses, including the many white freedom-fighters who risked their lives standing up for love in the face of violence and hatred. 

"We urge all pastors, ministers, and priests to boldly make it clear that a commitment to Jesus Christ is incompatible with calls to violence, support of white Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories, and all religious and racial prejudice. 

"Just as it was tragically inconsistent for Christians in the 20th Century to support the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi ideology, it is unthinkable for Christians to support the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, QAnon, 3 Percenters, America Firsters, and similar groups. 

"We urge faith leaders to engage pastorally with those who support or sympathize with these groups, and make it clear that our churches are not neutral about these matters: we are on the side of democracy, equality for all people, anti-racism, and the common good of all people.

"Instead of seeing the United States as God's chosen nation we thank God for the church around the world that calls people of all races, tongues and nations to the knowledge and love of God. Instead of seeing any particular political leader or party as divinely appointed, we believe in the prophetic and pastoral ministry of the church to all political leaders and parties. Instead of power through violence, we believe in and seek to imitate the powerful, servant love practiced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

"Our faith will not allow us to remain silent at such a time as this. We are also aware that our world needs more than a statement right now… we need action. 

"Every one of the signers of this declaration is committed to taking concrete steps to put flesh on our words. We will combat bad theology with better theology. We will resist fear with love. We will tell the truth about our nation’s history. 

"We will seek to repair and heal the wounds of the past. We will seek racial justice on a personal, ecclesial, and systemic level. We will support organizations led by people of color. We will listen to and amplify the voices of people of faith who have been marginalized by the colonizing force of white supremacy and Christian Nationalism. 

"We will do our best to be faithful to Jesus, and to those Christ called “the least of these."


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The scene outside the Capitol on 6 January. The presence of Christian nationalists
was evident during the insurrection. | Photograph: Shafkat Anowar/AP



Evangelical leaders condemn role
of Christian nationalism in Capitol attack

by Ed Pilkington in New York
February 24, 2021


Pastors reject ‘perversion’ of Christian nationalism and say
they do not want to be ‘quiet accomplices in this ongoing sin’


More than 100 prominent evangelical Christian pastors and church leaders have spoken out against what they call the “perversion” of Christian nationalism and the role it played in enabling the violent insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January.

In an open letter released on Wednesday, the evangelical leaders say they are speaking out now because they do not want to be “quiet accomplices in this ongoing sin”.

They call on all church people to clarify that Christianity is incompatible with “calls to violence, support of white Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories, and all religious and racial prejudice”.

The letter, first reported by NPR, notes that the evangelical community in the US has long been susceptible to the “heresy” of Christian nationalism – the belief that the country is fundamentally Christian and run by and for white conservative Americans. The signatories blame that tendency on church leaders accommodating white supremacy over many years.

As a result the ideology of Christian nationalism was allowed to flourish and helped to legitimize the 6 January attack by giving participants the false impression that their actions were “blessed by God”, the religious leaders said.

The presence of Christian nationalists was evident during the insurrection. Rioters carried signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves” and “In God We Trust”, and crosses were erected among the crowd.


A Reporter’s Footage from Inside the Capitol Siege | The New Yorker
Jan 17, 2021



A video of the unfolding catastrophe filmed by the New Yorker magazine showed one of the seditionists saying a prayer from the rostrum of the US Senate. He said: “Thank you Heavenly Father for gracing us with this opportunity to stand up for our God-given unalienable rights … and to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists that this is our nation, not theirs.”

Among the influential figures who signed the letter were Jerushah Duford, granddaughter of the TV evangelical preacher, the late Billy Graham. She told NPR that the events of 6 January had long been brewing. “It felt like this was a symptom of what has been happening for a long time,” she said.

White evangelical Christians remained remarkably loyal to former president Donald Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. They voted for him on both occasions by about 80%, exit polls showed.

A survey by the American Enterprise Institute earlier this month found that 60% of white evangelicals continue to believe Trump’s “big lie” that last November’s election was stolen from him and that he should have been returned to the White House.


Jesus and the Christian Faith v Christian Nationalism



Amazon Link

Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable proportion of Americans continue to oppose women's equality in the workplace and in the home?

To answer these questions, Taking America Back for God points to the phenomenon of "Christian Nationalism," the belief that the United States is-and should be-a Christian nation. Christian ideals and symbols have long played an important role in American public life, but Christian Nationalism is about far more than whether the phrase "under God" belongs in the pledge of allegiance. At its heart, Christian Nationalism demands that we must preserve a particular kind of social order, an order in which everyone--Christians and non-Christians, native-born and immigrants, whites and minorities, men and women recognizes their "proper" place in society. The first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian Nationalism in the United States, Taking America Back for God illustrates the influence of Christian Nationalism on today's most contentious social and political issues.

Drawing on multiple sources of national survey data as well as in-depth interviews, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry document how Christian Nationalism shapes what Americans think about who they are as a people, what their future should look like, and how they should get there. Americans' stance toward Christian Nationalism provides powerful insight into what they think about immigration, Islam, gun control, police shootings, atheists, gender roles, and many other political issues-very much including who they want in the White House. Taking America Back for God is a guide to one of the most important-and least understood-forces shaping American politics.


* * * * * * * * *


RLC Book Club
Streamed live on Jul 25, 2021

Authors Andrew Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry
discuss their book "Taking America Back for God"
with Shane Claiborne | 57:18




* * * * * * * * *






PODCAST LINK HERE

T

aking an active role in shaping our communities—and nation—is a valid way for us to fulfill Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbor. Such work is both Christian and political. It’s that intersection we’re exploring in this For God and Country series. Once we determine it is our duty to work toward the common good in this way, a new question arises: What kind of community or nation are we trying to build?

In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson dig into their fall series called For God and Country. Each episode will tackle an aspect of how faith and politics collide. In this conversation, Erin and Hannah look to the pain points Christians are feeling and use them to unearth the way fear can sway our political leanings. In Christian circles, there has been increasing concern about religious rights and freedoms, as well as rally cries to take our nation back for God. To help us understand the factors feeding these ideas, Hannah speaks with Sam Perry, who has done significant research on Christian nationalism. Together with Andrew Whitehead, Sam authored a book of these findings titled Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States. Sam addresses the growing conflation of Christian faith with nationalism, which at its core is political idolatry. Because we are so accustomed to these messages and stances within the Church, we can become blind to how we’ve adopted ideals and stances that are contrary to the gospel:
  • Is it truly our mandate to take America back for God?
  • Are Christians under persecution in the United States—or is it just a loss of privilege and status?
  • Should Christians focus on protecting our own rights or is it more important to reach others with the love of God found in Jesus?
Listen in for dialogue on questions like these as we learn to think more clearly about the intersection of faith and politics. Then continue the conversation on Twitter @PersuasionCAPC or in the CAPC members-only community on Facebook.
Today’s episode of Persuasion is sponsored in part by Plough Publishing House, publisher of new title The Gospel in Dickens, edited by Gina Dalfonzo. CAPC members receive 30% off when purchasing from Plough!
HOSTS
Erin Straza: Web / Twitter
Hannah Anderson: Web / Twitter

PERSUASION PODCAST
Instagram: @PersuasionCAPC
Facebook: /Persuasioncapc

PERSUASION 201 RESOURCES & LINKS

Did you enjoy this episode of Persuasion? Give the entire series a listen:


THEME MUSIC by Maiden Name.



* * * * * * * * *




In the following article I have placed the last section first ahead of the main article because of its relevancy to the topic being discussed today. Afterwards I have posted the entire article as it was originally written.

Hope College of Holland, Michigan, is a private Christian university which is part of the Reformed Churches of America (RCA). They are located not far from where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where my wife and I for many years had enjoyed their Summer Repertory Theatre when dating and our early years of marriage.

Thankfully, the students and faculty at Hope have a clear enough vision of the Christian faith to say no to Christian racism and Christian nationalism. Which gives me hope that not all Christians are shovelheads. Here are their thoughts....

R.E. Slater
July 28, 2021




... One more thing on this topic, and not just a post script. You could write a whole book on it. In fact, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry already have, and I recommend it to you:

It is a data-driven analysis of Christian Nationalism, people for whom their Christian faith and their American patriotism have fused so completely that they see no discernable difference between the Kingdom of God and the U.S. of A.

Measured in terms of agreement with just six questions (e.g., “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation” and “The success of the United States is part of God’s plan”), Christian Nationalism predicts all kinds of attitudes about race and racism, rooted in a very clear sense of the boundary that divides “us” from “them.”

Christian Nationalists are more likely to believe that “true Americans” are White Christians, born in the U.S. with forebears from the U.S. Everyone else lives on the other side of the boundary, and therefore is highly suspect.

Immigrants are seen as bad people who pollute the purity of the culture. U.S.-born minorities are believed to be lazy or criminal or both - people who deserve substandard housing, low-paying jobs, and inferior schools.

It is absolutely telling that those who have fused God and country are the biggest bigots in the nation. Racism is intertwined in the history of both the U.S. government and the U. S. church. Put them together, and the result is pure White supremacy.

Now please don’t conclude that all Christians in this country are Christian Nationalists. That is far from the truth. Christians who are low in Christian Nationalism have beliefs about race that are completely opposite from Christian Nationalists. (More on that in the next section.)

And many Christian Nationalists aren’t especially Christian, as measured by things like church attendance and Bible reading. It isn’t the Christian faith itself that promotes xenophobia and racism; it is the heresy of White Supremacy that has found its way into the hearts and minds of many, but by no means all, people who profess Christian beliefs.

Peter Wehner, who worked for Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush, summarizes it in this way:

Countless people who profess to be Christians are having their moral sensibilities shaped more by Tucker Carlson’s nightly monologues than by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps without quite knowing it, many of those who most loudly proclaim the “pre-eminence of Christ” have turned him into a means to an end, a cruel, ugly and unforgiving end.

Can I get an Amen?

The Bottom Line: Overt racism is alive and well, and quite visible, especially in recent years. One reason is politics: the Republican party has played on White racial resentment in order to win votes, a strategy that has worked pretty well for them since the 1960s.

A second reason is U.S. Christianity, which has been part and parcel of U.S. racism since Europeans first landed in the Americas. The good news comes in the next post: anti-racism has been on the rise lately, too, offering some hope in what has been a pretty difficult time.


* * * * * * * * *




GETTING RACE RIGHT

A project of Professor Charles Green &
Race in America students at Hope College

"Racial justice is the path to racial progress."

Embracing Racism: Race, Politics, and Religion

"Racial justice as the path to racial progress."

Follow us on twitter @GetRaceRight


I don’t want to write this.

Part of it is the difficulty of writing about race, politics, and religion in a way that is true, honest, and respectful. As a person of faith, I believe every human being is a child of God, beloved by God. That includes people who perpetuate racism. (I keep looking for an asterisk, an escape clause, or a list of exceptions in the Scriptures. No luck as of yet, but I’ll keep you posted.) At the same time, as a person of faith—more specifically as a Christian—I believe that Jesus cared quite particularly for those on the margins. He sought them out and brought them in. He gave them his time, his love, and eventually, his life. And he had no apparent difficulty “speaking truth to power.” When was the last time somebody called you a brood of vipers or a whitewashed tomb?

In the first two posts in this section on “The View from Above,” I wrote about the experiences and perspectives of that plurality of White Americans who rather vaguely want to do the right thing but don’t really know how and, for the most part, aren’t actively trying to figure it out. In this section, I write about that growing number of White Americans who are owning their racism, talking about it in public, sometimes with a veneer of respectability, but increasingly in horrid, shameful ways. They have always been part of the mix, but they now are emboldened. Some of them hold a great deal of political and economic power, and they do not intend to give it up. Others don’t hold much power themselves, but are deeply devoted to maintaining White Supremacy nonetheless. There are real concerns that the backlash to the civil rights movement has gotten so strong that we have entered an age of Jim Crow 2.0—and for good reason. (See, for example, Bentele and O’Brien, 2013.) We need to understand what’s going on and commit ourselves to stand against it. (As you read this, keep in mind that the number of White Americans who take racism seriously and want to do something about it is also rising. More on that in the next section.)


RACE AND POLITICS

For most of our history racism was big and loud and ugly. In the first few decades following the civil rights movement, more people were quiet about their racism, often keeping it “backstage.” Many still do, but an increasing number are bringing it right up front.

Historian Heather Cox Richardson


Historian Heather Cox Richardson puts all this in context for us. During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt interrupted the political Gilded Age by putting the federal government mostly on the side of ordinary Americans (ordinary White Americans, that is). This followed decades of government favoritism for the wealthy and privileged. The 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court ruling, however, gave plutocrats the opening they needed: they began to connect, in the minds of many citizens, the policies of the New Deal with equal rights for people of color. They hoped that if working White people believed they had to choose between their economic interests and their racism, many would choose their racism. And, indeed, many did.

The Reagan Revolution was the culmination of that work. With a ready smile, Pres. Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, reduced government oversight of the market, slashed the social safety net, and—not coincidentally—found ways to let racists know he was on their side.

Ian Haney López, teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley


In Dog Whitle Politics (2014), Ian Haney López, who teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley, calls this “strategic racism.” Powerful people, especially politicians, use other people’s racism to advance their own interests. The specifics of the strategy can change over time (e.g., how openly racist to be), but the goal—to keep money and power in the hands of powerful White people—is constant. In the introduction to his book, López offers this overview:

So we need to be clear: the connection between race and the Republican Party is not accidental, vestigial, or comical, and it’s certainly not trivial. lnstcad, as we will see, over the last half-century conservatives have used racial pandering to win support from white voters for policies that principally favor the extremely wealthy and wreck the middle class. Running on racial appeals, the right has promiscd to protect supposedly embattled whites, when in reality it has largely harnessed govcrnment to the interests of the very affluent. Thc result is an economic crisis that has engulfed the nation . . .

Those who have wondered where in the world Donald Trump came from in 2016 need to understand that Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan all made Trump possible. The big, angry backlash to Obama’s election made Trump inevitable. (What—you thought the Tea Party was about taxes?)

You may or may not like Richardson’s or López’s analysis of the big picture, but here are just a few of the many, many facts about race and politics today:

In their 2020 annual report, the Public Religion Research Institute identified many differences in attitudes and beliefs between Republicans and Democrats—so many, in fact, they named their report Dueling Realities. Here are just some of those differences when it comes to race, ethnicity, and culture:
  • 68% of Democrats believe that racial inequality is a critical issue to address; only 17% of Republicans agree.
  • 77% of Republicans believe that Islam is at odds with U.S. values; only 26% of Democrats agree.
  • 78% of Republicans (93% who trust Fox News more than other news sources) approved of Donald Trump’s handling of Black Lives Matter protests, versus 9% of Democrats.
  • 79% of Republicans (and 90% of Republicans who trust Fox News), compared with only 17% of Democrats, believe that police killings of Black Americans are isolated incidents, and not part of a broader pattern.
  • 49% of Republicans believe that the country is made better when Americans protest unfair treatment. However, only 24% of Republicans (10% of Fox News Republicans) agree that the protests of Black Americans make the country better. Among Democrats, there was no difference—71% for both “Americans” and for “Black Americans.”
  • Republicans are more likely to say that there is significant discrimination against White people than against Black people (57% v. 52%). For Democrats, 92% see discrimination against Black people and only 13% see discrimination against White people.

  • The list goes on, but you get the idea.




One thing to remember when comparing the views of Republicans and Democrats is that, according to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Republicans identify as White while only 59% of Democrats do. When comparing the attitudes of Republicans and Democrats, then, we are comparing a mostly White group of people with a more diverse group of people. However, there are consistent differences between White Democrats and White Republicans, too. For example, an April, 2021 opinion poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News found that 87% of White Democrats believe that ethnic minorities do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system; only 36% of White Republicans felt the same way.

Why does Donald Trump maintain such strong loyalty among most Republicans? Thomas B. Edsall offered many reasons and quoted many scholars in a column he wrote in the New York Times. Many Trump supporters believe that White dominance is under attack. The resulting fear and insecurity lead them to a sense of victimhood, and to believe they need to fight to regain the status they believe they have lost. Edsall quoted a political scientist at Temple University, Kevin Arceneaux, who studies the effects of psychological biases on political opinions:

The civil rights movement was about mobilizing an oppressed minority to fight for their rights, against the likelihood of state-sanctioned violence, while Trump’s appeals are about harnessing the power of the state to maintain white dominance. Trump’s appeals to discontented whites are reactionary in nature. They promise to go back to a time when whites were unquestionably at the top of the social hierarchy. These appeals are about keying into anger and fear, as opposed to hope, and they are about moving backward and not forward.

This is dangerous territory. Miller and Davis (2021) found that racism and anti-democratic values often go hand-in-hand:

“White Americans who would not want an immigrant/foreign worker, someone who speaks a different language, or someone from a different race as a neighbor are more likely to support strongman rule in the United States, rule of the U.S. government by the army, and are more likely to outright reject having a democracy for the United States.”

Dr. Oleka


If you are a Republican, no doubt this is difficult reading for you. I ask that you be open to the facts. And please know that I am not suggesting that you leave the party. Frankly, I’d rather you stay right where you are and make a difference from the inside. At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, OJ Oleka wrote an essay entitled Why conservatives should be leading the way to end institutional racism. As a self-described conservative Black man, Dr. Oleka made the following argument:

Modern conservatism defends voluntary community, encourages strong families, praises earned wealth and demands honest labor. Racism oppresses. Conservatism liberates. Conservatives should be front and center, leading the way on how to end institutional racism in America.

Look at it like this: Democrats were the party of Jim Crow racism for nearly a century. 1948 was the first year they adopted a party platform in favor of civil rights. By 1964, only 18 years later, Lyndon Johnson, of all people, pushed the Civil Rights Act through a reluctant congress. Lord knows the Democrats continue to have their own problems with race, but they no longer organize their existence around the perpetuation of overt White Supremacy. There’s no reason the Republicans can’t make the same kind of change—but they first have to decide that it’s time, finally, to do the right thing.


RACE AND RELIGION

Still with me? I appreciate it.


In his compelling book, White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (2020), Robert P. Jones, the director of the Public Religion Research Institute, offers many examples of how White Christians are more likely to be racist than most other White Americans. Just a few examples (all taken from pages 161 – 172):

  • White Christians are more likely than other Americans to assert that generations of slavery and discrimination make no difference in Black people’s ability to get ahead in life.
  • White Christians are more likely to oppose immigration to the U.S., including legal immigration.
  • White Christians were more likely to support Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims coming to the U.S., even for a visit, and more likely to support his vision of building a wall across the border with Mexico.
  • White Christians score much higher on Jones’s Racism Index than any other group of Americans (see chart below).



As you can see, White evangelicals scored a bit higher than White Catholics or White mainline Protestants on the Racism Index, but the differences among these Christian groups are small. The differences between White Christians and other subsets of the population, however are sizeable. That is true for each of the issues in the list. White non-evangelical Christians who think that only evangelicals are racist are letting themselves and their churches off the hook way too easily.

This is just one small glimpse into the research on racism in the U.S. church. I could go on and on and on, but the point, sadly, would be the same: racism in this country is very strong among people whose faith teaches them—above all—to love both God and neighbor. Why would this be?

We have to begin with the role of the church in colonialism. The church was not a bystander; it was an active participant. When European Christians were looking for a justification for genocide and slavery, the church was there to help. The Doctrine of Discovery, laid out over the last half of the 15th Century, was the church’s blessing—a mandate, even—to conquer non-Europeans around the world and exploit their land and their labor. For centuries, the church has blessed Indian removal, slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, racial hierarchy, and racial inequity. There have been prophets along the way who preached the gospel Christ actually taught, but not enough. Mark Charles, a Navajo Christian pastor, explains it like this:

The Rev. Dr. E. Ross Kane of Virginia Theological Seminary argues that in aligning itself with conquest and colonialism, the church so thoroughtly intertwined faith and White culture that it is difficult to know the difference anymore. Merging faith and culture is called syncretism. The Western church has been vigilent in calling out syncretism in colonized lands, trying to maintain the “purity” of the faith in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But it paid no attention to the myriad ways that the racism of European culture infiltrated the church, from the local parish to the highest councils. Prof. Kane says:

“White Christianity saw itself as the norm and as the primary bearer of divine revelation. It did not expect to discover something new through different cultures’ encounters with Christ. Rather, these cultures were expected to conform to largely White understandings of Christianity. The closer one came to White expressions of Christianity, the less likely one would be dubbed a syncretist. In this way, racism inhibited comprehension of divine revelation by narrowing its scope.”

'We the People' - the three most misunderstood words in US history
| Mark Charles | TEDxTysons | Jan 24, 2019



Dr. George Kelsey (1965), a Christian theologian, believed that White Supremacy in Christians went beyond syncretism. He called it an idolatrous faith. He argued that racism was so inimical to Christianity that racist Christians should be considered polytheists:

“When the racist is also a Christian, which is often the case in America, he is frequently a polytheist. Historically, in polytheistic faiths, various gods have controlled various spheres of authority. Thus a Christian racist may think he lives under the requirements of the God of biblical faith in most areas of his life, but whenever matters of race impinge on his life, in every area so affected, the idol of race determines his attitude, decision, and action. . . . Polytheistic faith has been nowhere more evident than in that sizable group of Christiansn who take the position that racial traditions and practices in America are in no sense a religious matter. . . A probable explanation of this peculiar state of affairs is that modern Christianity and Christian civilization have domesticated racism so thoroughly that most Christians stand too close to assess it properly.”

Baylor University social psychologists (Johnson, Rowatt, and LaBouff, 2010) would agree. They found that White U.S. Christianity and racial prejudice are, indeed, deeply intertwined in our thinking. They primed research participants with Christian words like church, Bible, and Jesus—as opposed to neutral words like shirt, butter, and hammer— and learned that the Christian words led the participants to express more negative attitudes and feelings toward Black Americans—regardless of their own personal religious beliefs.



Christians and non-Christians alike implicitly
associate the Christian faith with racial prejudice.


Gloria Purvis


Friends, this is who we are—both to ourselves and to others—and it’s heresy. Gloria Purvis, who hosts a show on a Roman Catholic radio network, says it well:

“Racism makes a liar of God. It says not everyone is made in his image. What a horrible lie from the pit of hell.”


TAKING AMERICA BACK FOR GOD




One more thing on this topic, and not just a post script. You could write a whole book on it. In fact, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry already have, and I recommend it to you:

It is a data-driven analysis of Christian Nationalism, people for whom their Christian faith and their American patriotism have fused so completely that they see no discernable difference between the Kingdom of God and the U.S. of A.

Measured in terms of agreement with just six questions (e.g., “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation” and “The success of the United States is part of God’s plan”), Christian Nationalism predicts all kinds of attitudes about race and racism, rooted in a very clear sense of the boundary that divides “us” from “them.”

Christian Nationalists are more likely to believe that “true Americans” are White Christians, born in the U.S. with forebears from the U.S. Everyone else lives on the other side of the boundary, and therefore is highly suspect.

Immigrants are seen as bad people who pollute the purity of the culture. U.S.-born minorities are believed to be lazy or criminal or both - people who deserve substandard housing, low-paying jobs, and inferior schools.

It is absolutely telling that those who have fused God and country are the biggest bigots in the nation. Racism is intertwined in the history of both the U.S. government and the U. S. church. Put them together, and the result is pure White supremacy.

Now please don’t conclude that all Christians in this country are Christian Nationalists. That is far from the truth. Christians who are low in Christian Nationalism have beliefs about race that are completely opposite from Christian Nationalists. (More on that in the next section.)

And many Christian Nationalists aren’t especially Christian, as measured by things like church attendance and Bible reading. It isn’t the Christian faith itself that promotes xenophobia and racism; it is the heresy of White Supremacy that has found its way into the hearts and minds of many, but by no means all, people who profess Christian beliefs.

Peter Wehner, who worked for Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush, summarizes it in this way:

Countless people who profess to be Christians are having their moral sensibilities shaped more by Tucker Carlson’s nightly monologues than by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps without quite knowing it, many of those who most loudly proclaim the “pre-eminence of Christ” have turned him into a means to an end, a cruel, ugly and unforgiving end.

Can I get an Amen?

The Bottom Line: Overt racism is alive and well, and quite visible, especially in recent years. One reason is politicsthe Republican party has played on White racial resentment in order to win votes, a strategy that has worked pretty well for them since the 1960s.

A second reason is U.S. Christianity, which has been part and parcel of U.S. racism since Europeans first landed in the Americas. The good news comes in the next post: anti-racism has been on the rise lately, too, offering some hope in what has been a pretty difficult time.


Hope College, Holland, Michigan