Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Churches and Charlottesville: Valuable Commentary — "We Christians, in Particular, Need to Face the Degree to Which White Christianity Has Failed"

Reverend Christopher Arnold, Episcopal priest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, by way of Leigh Anderson

From time to time the church must speak against the actions of the Devil in this world, and that means preachers must preach these sorts of sermons....I am a priest, and I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and so I say it: this racist demonstration is immoral, wicked, and evil. It is of the Devil, and Christians must not stand for it.

Reverend Brian McLaren, reflecting on what he saw and experienced standing with other clergy in Charlottesville: 

All of us, especially people of faith, need to proclaim that white supremacy and white privilege and all other forms of racism and injustice must indeed be replaced with something better – the beloved community where all are welcome, all are safe, and all are free. White supremacist and Nazi dreams of apartheid must be replaced with a better dream – people of all tribes, races, creeds, and nations learning to live in peace, mutual respect, and neighborliness. Such a better world is possible, but only if we set our hearts on realizing the possibility. 
We Christians, in particular, need to face the degree to which white Christianity has failed – grievously, tragically, unarguably failed – to teach its white adherents to love their non-white neighbors as themselves. Congregations of all denominations need to make this an urgent priority – to acknowledge the degree to which white American Christianity has been a chaplaincy to white supremacy for centuries, and in that way, has betrayed the gospel.

Warren Throckmorton, professor of psychology at Grove City College:

I believe churches should take the lead in community efforts to remove vestiges of pride in the Confederacy. Some Christians defend Confederate symbols. but I think they are wrong. 
Defending Confederate symbols has become a signal for white supremacy. All reasons for flying the Confederate flag or allowing Confederate statues to remain in place ultimately come back to a defense of a painful and evil time in American history. In America today, the display of a Confederate symbol is analogous to the display of a swastika. Americans have the right to free speech but the church is called to a higher standard. I support all lawful means to put Confederate symbols in the museum and out of the public square. Such action would go a long way toward my next point. 
In addition to action to attack racist symbols, evangelicals, especially those in majority white evangelical churches, must talk less and learn more. White evangelicals must learn about white privilege and the vast differences in perception of society. African-American and whites often see problems and solutions differently. As a white evangelical, I need to listen and learn more, and talk less. 

Jack Jenkins on the role (some) clergy played in Charlottesville:

[A]mong the many untold stories of the harrowing day is the account of hundreds of religious leaders like Harper who descended on Charlottesville to resist white supremacy. While images of prayerful resistance are often less eye-catching than bloody fists, spiritual protesters were still a crucial part of both the counter-protests and relief efforts. Many stood arm-in-arm while staring down white supremacists—and plan to do it again. 

Morgan Guyton, co-director of NOLA Wesley United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University, New Orleans:

I've been thinking about what I would preach today if I were preaching. And I keep on seeing this image of Cornel West and other clergy marching in Charlottesville today, many of them queer or female clergy whose legitimacy would be called into question by many Christians. And the phrase that came into my head is this is what the new church looks like. It doesn't matter that church hasn't looked like this since Constantine made church the same thing as empire. This is what church actually looks like because the church is ekklesia, those who are "called out" of the world to follow Jesus into the streets. 

A revelatory exchange that took place on the Twitter feed of anti-capital punisment activist Sister Helen Prejean yesterday:

Thom Hartmann on our obligation to call what Trump defended yesterday (and what the Republican party consistently defends) with his false equivalency meme: it's White Christian Racial Terrorism: 

He'll threaten North Korea with nukes, but won't even name the terrorists who showed up in Virginia. 
And it's very, very hard to find an elected Republican (who isn't a presidential wannabe) who will call this what it is: White Christian Racial Terrorism. 
The answer is really simple: If you can’t win on issues, you go for what used to be called "wedge issues."

Jamelle Bouie on why the false equivalency meme — which is based on lie after lie — is so hard to tease out in American political conversations, and why white Christians keep appealing to it to cover their deep racial antagonisms:

It should also be said that there is no equivalence between those who march for white denomination and ethnic cleansing and those who march against them. To suggest otherwise isn't just wrong; it's obscene—a failure of morality and decency. And Trump isn't alone in that failure. Turn to the Wall Street Journal and you'll find the editorial board equating white racists to advocates for racial justice and transgender rights. Turn to the New York Times opinion section and you'll find the same. At the American Conservative, a similar sleight of hand tries to argue that liberal "identity politics" is responsible for white nationalism, and that minority Americans' asserting of their humanity is the reason some people turn to white supremacy, as if otherwise it wouldn't exist. 
Here, in the false equivalence between racists and their opponents, Donald Trump isn't an innovator. He isn't the first to play this game. He’s just taken old arguments and stripped them of pretense, providing them uncut and undiluted. The difference is that he is delivering them with the authority of the presidency.

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