All polls suggest that white Americans are satisfied with what we might call formal equal justice or "procedural" equality, whereas the vast majority of black Americans are deeply committed to substantive justice and economic equality. The difference reflects the different religious visions about what government should do, with African-Americans still attached overwhelmingly to the old commonwealth vision. But it goes much deeper, inasmuch as blacks both see and experience the brutal underside of the "redeemer nation" mythology. For centuries they have seen and experienced American trimphalism as a parallel triumph of white supremacy.
These competing visions come into sharpest focus during that segregated hour on Sunday. It oversimplifies the case, but not by much, to say that black Christians identify with those whom God delivers from the house of bondage, whereas white Christians are conflicted about whether to identify with the oppressed Israelites or with Pharoah and Pharoah’s enforcers. You needn’t take my word for it. You can ask Walter Brueggemann about the degree to which imperial religion has effectively colonized white American Christianity. Or you can ask any black Christian whether Dr. King was right to say that America "is in danger of becoming a 'thing society," and he or she will answer that, if anything, King was understating the case back in 1967.
Or as the editor of one of the leading Catholic journals in the U.S., Paul Baumann of Commonweal, argues, maybe it's a virtue that we who have power and privilege don't take sides. Since things are, you know, complicated. And there are always two sides to stories.
Especially when we belong to powerful and privileged elites that benefit from standing on the sidelines and refusing to take sides. In the case of Commonweal's movers and shakers, when we're the comfortably ensconced heterosexually married Catholics, who can continue to maintain that the question of human rights for our fellow human beings who happen to have been made gay by God is complicated.
And who can keep on pushing the entirely fictive, highly destructive (destructive to those demeaned others if not to ourselves, that is) argument that, if we comfortably ensconced heteroseuxally married Catholics give in on the question of gay marriage, marriage itself, as an institution, will vanish. Since procreation. When there's not a scrap of evidence to be found anywhere that allowing gay folks to enjoy all the perks and privileges heterosexual ones have via marriage undermines heterosexual marriage.
It must be nice to be able to live with such . . . distance . . . from the real-life struggles of fellow human beings, musn't it? And to be allowed to claim that this refusal to side with those in need is virtue on our part!