Readers Respond: The U.S.’s white supremacist character has long claimed lives on its own land and abroad. Evangelical leaders on the religious right who have bought into a white nationalist agenda advance the violence in racist terror attacks, immigrant hostility, and exclusionary policies.
White Nationalism. White Supremacy. White Power. (by Jim Wallis)
These are words that white people — particularly white Christians — don’t like to talk about, don’t like to see and hear, want to put in the past, want to dismiss as applying to only a few white people, and refuse to see as systemic, structural, or still deeply embedded in our American history and national culture. Certainly, then, they don’t want to acknowledge these combined forces as the greatest terrorist threat now to America’s safety, and the greatest political threat to genuine democracy around the world.
That is the heart of our problem.
From Oklahoma City to Charleston to Charlottesville to Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue to Christchurch, New Zealand, to Norway and other places in Europe, white nationalism and the white supremacy underneath it is a movement — and a growing one. White power has historically killed untold numbers of people and is still killing people today. It’s the most rising terrorist threat: white people who believe that their exclusive power and superiority is being taken away by the growth of more inclusive democracy.
I am asking why the white evangelical leaders of the religious right haven’t drawn a moral line in the sand on the racial idolatry of white nationalism and supremacy that is directly and distinctively anti-Christ — as they have with issues like abortion and same-sex marriage? That choice not to draw a moral line sends a clear signal to people of color around the world in the body of Christ as to what is a political deal breaker for white evangelical American Christians and what is not.
As an American-Indian woman who lived during the Jim Crow era and gives thanks for liberation from overt racism by our government as a result of the Civil Rights Act and the efforts of people of many colors and heritages, I am aghast and ashamed that so many Christian church leaders are completely silent about the rise of racism in this country.
To focus on a single issue rather than the needs of the people and to venerate a president whose words and actions contradict the teachings and life of Jesus is hypocritical and more importantly, reflects an extreme lack of Christian courage and leadership.
As I read and hear about the frightful increase of hate crimes and know personally about the insults to individuals who are not white and different in other ways, my heart hurts but mostly it is outraged. I long to hear more white Christian pastors and leaders speak out. It’s what Jesus did.
Lena Epps Brooker
A quote from “Why Evangelical Christians Support Trump” on www.al.com: “He has defended the womb,” Kilpatrick said. “The president has taken a stand for life. Second, the president has taken up for Israel and has declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Third, he has chosen Supreme Court justices — that's going to turn this nation around. Those three things are why the spirit of Jezebel hates him and wants him out. We may be on the verge of the greatest revival this world has ever seen.”
Corporate America doesn't care about any of the above issues. They do want a man that will fill his cabinet with bankers and corporate lobbyists. And, they got one — riding on the coattails of an evangelical population that is not seeing the forest for the trees. Or, they're not noticing the collapse of democracy into a corporate oligarchy while they argue about abortion, gay rights and Israel. How convenient for those in power!
I'm convinced that one of the reasons for this is where many evangelicals live. The media they have access to is full of right wing talk shows and conservative Christian talk. If you drive through a rural area sometimes the only radio will be conservative talk shows and evangelical Christian talk shows. There is no honest discussion of climate change, income inequality, the value of single-payer [health care], etc. They're being brainwashed. I think it would be very interesting to find out who is funding these shows.
And, there's another aspect to this — it's the conveyed attitude through the media. Just try to listen to a conservative talk show host without getting riled up. Bill Riley and his well known pointing finger accompanied by “righteous” anger. People catch those attitudes and carry them into their lives when they communicate with their friends, family and social networks. It's toxic.
I fully agree with you that Christians need to step forward and confront racism. But, somehow we also need to see the forest fire that's happening in the canopy and middle story while we discuss the issues under our feet.
Excellent! How I wish the bulk of the evangelical community would/could read this. I serve as a missionary in the Philippines and have for the past 31 years. Two of my six children serve here with me. My husband of 43 years died here. Our ministry is to the poor and vulnerable. Marginalized women and children caught in the terrible circumstances that poverty, poverty that can only exist in the presence of greed, has put them through no fault of their own.
We must continue to be a voice for the inclusion of all in the love of God. I am ashamed of the American Church for the most part. I've never identified as an evangelical but, that aside, the gospel of white supremacy and fear the defines much of the church in America today is a terrible thing. I feel as though the church has committed adultery, lusting after wealth and power that it sees as only due to white folk. It's a sad day. I resist as best I can half a world away and try to live the gospel as I've understood it all of my Christian life. It is an embracing gospel. We serve an embracing Christ.
Taytay, Rizal, Philippines
Kia ora Jim,
"...the deadliest event of its kind in New Zealand’s history."
Our colonial history has been deadly to Māori.
From Aotearoa here, I have felt encouraged by your work. I am a Pākehā New Zealander.
Lower hutt, Aotearoa, New Zealand