Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Valuable Recent Commentary about Link Between White Supremacy and White Christianity in the U.S.

I'm sorry to have been away for so long. As I noted in a posting some weeks back, we have been dealing with health challenges, and we're hoping that a surgical procedure today will put them behind us. 

Hard to blog due to the worry, distraction, enervation, and, of course, not only due to our own health challenges for and the long, long process of getting medical treatment during the pandemic…. I'm also distracted, worried, and enervated, as I suspect many of us are, by the increasingly dire state of the world in which we live, especially we Americans. It takes a toll.

I do have a few things to share today. The following is from a piece my friend Wendell Griffen, a Little Rock judge who also pastors New Millennium Baptist church, published today at Baptist News Global. The essay is entitled "A message to white Christian America: Remember the church at Sardis." 

Here's an excerpt — and I hope it will entice you to read the entire essay:

White supremacy is the actual religion followed by white Christians. In every period of U.S. history, white Christians have dressed up their racism and devotion to white supremacy by preaching and singing about the grace of God while engaging in bigotry and blatant discrimination toward people of color in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. 
When white Christians feign moral and ethical amnesia, ignorance, innocence and paralysis about racial injustice, they confirm what was written in Revelation 3:1 about the church at Sardis: "I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead." The church at Sardis had "a name of being alive" — meaning vigorous, effective — but it was "dead" — meaning ineffective and impotent to influence the culture of the city for justice. This description fits white Christianity in the United States and elsewhere across the world. 
The corpse-like grip of white supremacy and religious nationalism accounts for the overwhelming support white Christians gave Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election and continue to give Trump in his 2020 re-election bid. Like the zombies in The Walking Dead television series, white Christians will flock to the polls and vote for Trump in 2020 even though his administration separated immigrant infants and other children from their parents and deliberately targeted Muslims for discrimination. White Christians are so morally and ethically dead, they will vote for Trump despite his deceitful statements and policy positions concerning the coronavirus pandemic that have led to sickness and death for almost 200,000 Americans. A disproportionate number of the sickened and dead are people of color.

Hence, my message to white Christian America is: "I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead."

Wendell's essay opens with his noting that he has recently read Robert P. Jones's book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, and his essay is, of course, in some sense a response to Jones's thesis in that book. Though, as he adds, as a Black American, he does not really need to read the public opinion surveys conducted by Jones at his Public Religion Research Institute to know what white American Christians think ….

 The second article I want to share today is a just-published piece by Ronald Brownstein entitled "Why the stability of the 2020 race promises more volatility ahead." Brownstein cites Robert P. Jones in this essay. He writes: 

Robert P. Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, says the White constituencies most hostile to demographic and cultural change will likely become more embittered through the 2020s as evidence mounts that they no longer constitute the nation's majority. Just since 2008, he notes, White Christians have fallen from about 54% to 44% of the population; that decline, he believes, will become vastly more tangible for them if Trump loses in November.

"This White Christian base has been shrinking and becoming more shrill at the same time: I think those two things are related," says Jones, author of the recent book "White Too Long," a history of Christian churches and racial bias.

Trump's relentless rhetorical salvos against immigrants, "mobs" and African American leaders from politics to sports and his insistence that religious traditions (like Christmas) are under siege all inflame a deep-rooted anxiety among conservative White Christian voters, Jones notes.

"Particularly White Christian folks really did think they were the country," he says. "So if you take that really seriously, [as] something they believed to the core of their being, then what's becoming abundantly clear is that that is not true. But that is a foundational piece of their self-understanding. To fight tooth and nail for something that is going to actually undermine your basic identity is not too surprising. It runs just that deep."

I think Jones is very right about all of this — and I know that my friend Wendell is right in his biblically based condemnation of what far too many white Christians in the U.S. have made of Christianity at this point in time.

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