Following Jesus is political by nature, but maybe no religious group has been more influenced — and co-opted — by political power than white, conservative Christians in America. It’s no surprise that a ruling government set up by and for white Christians retains much of the religion that helped put it into power, but the extremes to which the “Christianity” of white Americans has transformed into a political mouthpiece is alarming.
Although Christians across the political spectrum have all committed wrongdoings, much of conservative white American Christianity has reached a point where the pastors, theologians, and leaders are mercilessly opposed to helping refugees, immigrants, Muslims, women, children, the sick, the poor, LGBTQ individuals, and those suffering in other countries — all for the sake of political control. The apathy, opposition, and even aggressive attacks are an abandonment of Jesus’s commands.
This is not entirely new. During the brutal colonization of this land, most white people who claimed Christianity ruthlessly enforced their power using violence and dehumanization, politically and spiritually rationalizing everything as part of “manifest destiny.”
Later, slave owners would manipulate the Bible to mandate subservience, and white Christendom would continue to apply a mixture of scripture and theology — heavily reinforced with brutality — to maintain control of their financial, political, and social rule.
We don’t need more evidence that shows white conservative Christendom — especially the kind that is built on nationalistic and patriarchal structures — is oppressive. It attacks, silences, and diminishes opposing opinions while simultaneously promoting a nationalistic type of Christianity. White conservative Christianity selfishly prioritizes partisan platforms that favor an oppressive agenda over following Jesus. They forget that Christianity isn’t meant to be exclusively white, male, or American.
“Christian America” was established by those who were almost exclusively white, male, and Christian. It was simultaneously used as a tool to eliminate and subjugate people of color and those who were not white, male, American, or Christian.
Although there were a few exceptions, this kind of Christianity was used as a weapon to maintain dominance over anyone who attempted to upset the status quo. In this way, their Christianity maintained a white supremacist view of humanity where white people were set up to rule.
Hate and racism were so embedded within this religion that the KKK was marketed as a Christian institution, and segregation was endorsed by countless white pastors and their congregations. It’s still so prevalent within white Christianity today that many still refuse to acknowledge systemic racism as a problem. They happily support a president who continually spews racist and xenophobic vitriol, and support policies that continue to be racist and evil.
This false and idolatrous narrative of “American Christianity” is still prevalent today. But the good news is that American white males don’t own Christianity and never will. The message of Jesus — an ethnic minority who was unfairly arrested, incarcerated, and murdered by a ruling empire — is that the love and power of Christ is meant for everyone.
This is why throughout history, despite the horrors committed in Christ’s name, people of every race, gender, and creed have emulated the life of Jesus by loving those around them, freeing them from bondage, righting injustice, empowering the downtrodden, and loving their neighbor as themselves. This is the very essence of Christianity that Westernized Christendom has utterly failed at: loving your neighbor.
While Christianity will continue to be manipulated and weaponized for the benefit of those who do wrong, there are those who will genuinely follow Jesus — sacrificing, serving, helping, advocating, and loving. May we always center our faith on Jesus rather than any political party, politician, or false rhetoric. God help us.