Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Reader Writes About Black Evangelicals Leaving White Churches: "I Am still ASTOUNDED to Hear Stories Like This One. Trump Is God's Chosen One?"

Brian Gallagher shared the article excerpted below in a comment yesterda, stating,

I am still ASTOUNDED to hear stories like this one. Trump is God's Chosen One? 
It appears that many choose a religious expression that is most compatible with prior beliefs, prejudices, and/or neuroses which eventually reveal themselves to be stronger than any adopted theologies or spiritual insights. 
I cannot accept that 'Trump is the Chosen One' comes from anywhere else.  
Donald. Trump. 
I'm with you, Bill - I will never forget this.

Because I don't think we can let ourselves forget the face that white evangelicals have shown the world through their well-nigh solid and exceedingly fervent support for the current occupant of the White House — who is for many of the rest of us a moral monstrosity — I want to highlight this article. Too many of us, including influential media gurus, who live outside the purview of the white evangelical world want to pretend that all of this is far removed from us, and we can be indifferent or superior to it, paying it no attention. My contention: we adopt that posture to our great peril and the great peril of the world as a whole. 

These folks are deadly serious, and they intend to rule the rest of us even as they dwindle to the status of a demographic minority. We cannot afford to pretend about them, to ignore them, or to act as if what they want for American democracy is a viable both-sides-have-good-points option. Here's an excerpt from  Campbell Robertson's "A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches":

In 2012, according to a report from the National Congregation Study, more than two-thirds of those attending white-majority churches were worshiping alongside at least some black congregants, a notable increase since a similar survey in 1998. This was more likely to be the case in evangelical churches than in mainline Protestant churches, and more likely in larger ones than in smaller ones.
Then came the 2016 election. 
Black congregants — as recounted by people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Fort Worth and elsewhere — had already grown uneasy in recent years as they watched their white pastors fail to address police shootings of African-Americans. They heard prayers for Paris, for Brussels, for law enforcement; they heard that one should keep one's eyes on the kingdom, that the church was colorblind, and that talk of racial injustice was divisive, not a matter of the gospel. There was still some hope that this stemmed from an obliviousness rather than some deeper disconnect. 
Then white evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump by a larger margin than they had voted for any presidential candidate. They cheered the outcome, reassuring uneasy fellow worshipers with talk of abortion and religious liberty, about how politics is the art of compromise rather than the ideal. Christians of color, even those who shared these policy preferences, looked at Mr. Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants, his open hostility to N.F.L. players protesting police brutality and his earlier "birther" crusade against President Obama, claiming falsely he was not a United States citizen. In this political deal, many concluded, they were the compromised. 
"It said, to me, that something is profoundly wrong at the heart of the white church," said Chanequa Walker-Barnes, a professor of practical theology at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta.

And here's some Twitter commentary of mine that is not strictly speaking about the preceding article, but still apropos, I think, as we discuss it:

(And, yes, there are equally inculturated cheap-grace models of Catholicism all around us in the U.S. — which is why six in ten white Catholics could choose to vote for the moral monstrosity in the White House and are as pleased as punch at their bishops' alliance with right-wing white evangelicals.)

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