Friday, August 11, 2017

Two Powerful Statements Ask What's Wrong with White Christians: White Christians Respond with Fire and Fury

Tori Glass writes an open letter to the white Christians in the U.S. as the anniversary of Michael Brown's death at the hands of Darren Wilson comes around again:

It was the conservative evangelical jihad against the evil of blackness — black people, poor people, black culture, black communities — in America. Literally ALL THEY KNEW ABOUT MICHAEL BROWN WAS HIS SKIN COLOR AND HIS ZIP CODE. And yet they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country was better off without him. 
The unmitigated flow of white racial terror in the form of verbal abuse from the hearts and minds of white Christians was staggering. The firehose of vitriol directly towards people who looked like me, with no regard for empathy, sympathy, understanding, coming directly from white congregations was like nothing I had ever seen before. 
They will know we are evangelicals by our racial hatred.

John Gehring asks what is wrong with white Christians as polls indicate that white Christians are far and away more inclined to blame people who are poor for their poverty, than are non-white Christians or people without religious affiliation. And then he states,

White Christians are also oblivious or in denial when it comes to the reality of racism and discrimination, according to data from the Public Religion Research Institute. Pernicious stereotypes about race and poverty, of course, are two sides of the same coin. While 57 percent of Americans acknowledge significant levels of racism against black people, PRRI found, those numbers were dramatically different for white Christians. Only 36 percent of white evangelicals and 47 percent of white Catholics reported perceiving discrimination against African-Americans. 

Read the thread of responses to Gehring at Religion News Service, and you'll find abundant evidence of the problem to which he's pointing — a problem that white Christians in the U.S., who voted for Donald Trump in great numbers, do not wish to face, to admit, to solve. In probing the sore spot, Gehring's article (with its provocative headline) opens the floodgates of racial animosity, of outright hatred, of obtuseness that will never hear Tori Glass' critique with an open mind and open heart. 

It's so much easier, after all, isn't it, for us white American Christians to keep puffing ourselves up as exemplary "pro-life" Christians even as the white evangelical court prophets with which Donald Trump has surrounded himself pour poison into his ears about fire and fury that would, if it's rained on the world, cause widespread destruction? It's so much easier to keep shouting the claptrap about how "pro-life" we are and so much harder to face the real challenges to a bona fide pro-life ethic, in how we and our Christian churches treat people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and people on the margins of society.

Facing all of that is hard. But the gospel and discipleship are meant to be easy, are they not?

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