Check out this New York Times article on the “quiet exodus” of African-Americans from white churches.
Tag Archives: racism
Great article by Maj. Danny Sjursen, former history prof. at West Point. It deals with slavery and the “devil’s bargain” made by wealthy Virginia landowners in the 17th century. In order to keep their unequal share of wealth and quench growing class unrest, they ‘racialized’ class in America. And we’ve been stuck with this ever since.
At its annual meeting this week, the Southern Baptist Convention faltered in its condemnation of racism. This Guardian article explains why the failure is more the rule than the exception. (Lors de sa réunion cette semaine, la Convention baptiste du Sud a été presque incapable de condamner le racisme. Cet article explique pourquoi cet échec est plus souvent la règle que l’exception.)
“It would be a mistake to interpret this fiasco simply as a misstep. The Southern Baptist Convention’s reluctance to condemn racism is not only true to its history but it reflects how white supremacy is built into the very DNA of American Christianity.”
“…Christianity came into America enslaving black people, dispossessing indigenous people of their lands, and committing sexual violence. In doctrine and practice, it justified all of this. Christian faith consolidated itself around the bodies of white, propertied men while dehumanizing others. Trump’s platform might not be a grotesque distortion of American Christianity as much as it is its sins come home to roost”
“At some point, it becomes naïve to see the white supremacy in American Christianity as an exception when it has been the rule. What is needed is more than reform and more than the correction of bad actions attached to otherwise innocent beliefs. Instead, the only alternative is a revolutionary Christianity that becomes something it has never been in the Americas; what is needed is the blossoming of a new kind of faith.”
Read full article here.
In 1940 Charlie Chaplin released his first all-talking picture, The Great Dictator (13 years after The Jazz Singer had broken the sound barrier). In the early 30s many had remarked how much he looked like Adolph Hitler, particularly around the upper lip. Der Führer apparently never thought the comparison was funny. His propaganda machine targeted Chaplin as a “Jewish acrobat,” part of that Jewish conspiracy that he believed controlled the world. That’s when the silent comic thought of capitalizing on the likeness by making a film lampooning the fascist leader. He knew one thing dictators cannot stand is being laughed at, although Chaplin later admitted that he never would have attempted such a film if he had known the true depth of the atrocities of the concentration camps.
The film was a hit, two hours of slapstick gags and political satire, all poking fun at the most hated man in America. But at the end of the film, Chaplin did something shocking and risky. He got serious. He had spent almost 30 years building capital in the hearts of Americans, Britons, and people the world over. Now he was going to spend it. He was going to use the end of the film to speak his mind. And that’s exactly what he did– for 8 minutes, he appeals to all peoples to stop the madness. Though still essentially in the character of the Jewish barber who is mistaken for Der Fooey (Der Führer), Chaplin skewers everything from fascism and capitalism to modernism and technology run amok
“I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery…
“To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
“Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
“Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”
With the world at war, few could find fault with Chaplin’s sentiment at the time. But 7 years later, in the war’s aftermath, in a new Cold War, the filmmaker came under new scrutiny. Funny, there’s nothing like spouting off about freedom, peace, unity, and democracy to make people suspect you of communism. (Jesus would have fared no better.)
Listening to this speech today, in the context of the insanity that now passes for American politics, Chaplin’s words can give us both hope and courage.
(To read or watch the speech in its entirety, click here.)
As more than half of this country is still reeling from the blow of last week’s election, I wonder just what the church has become. Trump could not have won without the help of white evangelicals, 80% of whom voted for him. All I can ask is, “Who are these people, really, and what do they want with us?”
One thing I keep hearing lately, from white people, is “Thank God it’s over!” What a selfish thing to say, but oh so revealing! Sure. It’s over for you. You’re white, and you probably voted for that guy, which means you really don’t give a tinker’s damn about the people of color in this country, or the immigrants, who are scared right now, really very scared. It’s not over for them, not by a long shot. In fact, the nightmare is just beginning. You have no idea what you have done.
No, you voted for a candidate who hates just about everything Jesus loves. You cast your vote for a guy who is openly racist, who was endorsed by the freaking KKK, for goodness sake (which, incidentally, held a victory celebration in Raleigh this past weekend)! What does that say about him? Moreover, what does that say about you and what you value? You voted for an unabashed racist, so what does that make you?
Yes, it sickened me that, living in a battleground state, I was forced to vote for someone like her just to keep someone like him out of the White House. But no matter how poor and corrupt a candidate Hillary Clinton was, and I agree she had major flaws, huuuuuge, please don’t set up that false equivalency, comparing her with that man. And please don’t use any religious language or the Lord’s name to cover up what you’ve done, stabbing your African-American and Latino and Muslim brothers and sisters in the back. A massive betrayal of everything Jesus has taught us, to love the poor, the oppressed, the stranger.
Abortion, Roe v. Wade? If you really cared about the unborn, you would see clearly that abortion rates have never declined under Republican administrations: they rose under Reagan and Bush 1, declined under Clinton, sort of flatlined under Bush 2, and resumed their decline under Obama. That’s not an endorsement of the Democratic party (I’m not a member of either), but it shows us that if we really want to curtail abortion, we need to strengthen programs that address the underlying issues, like poverty, education, and health care, not gut them. But in the end, it’s never really been about abortion, has it? All along, it’s been about white power: you’re losing it and you’re mad.
I’m sorry, there is just no excuse for this, ever. No, at the end of the day it was that old American racism that won the day. That and the promise of power. Although if you’d read your history, you’d know that outcome is never good. The church should never seek political power. It ought to content itself with having influence, a voice. Seeking power only makes us more hated (if that were now possible).
It’s been happening gradually, O white evangelicalism, this parting of the ways between you and me. Now here is the final rupture. Like many Americans, I spent 30 minutes last Wednesday morning vomiting the remains of my breakfast into the sink. Perhaps I was eliminating the last vestiges of you in my system. The mask has fallen and the world can now see your true face. You have chosen your path; I have chosen mine. May God forgive you and grant you repentance and peace. No, none of us is perfect, and yes, we’re all hypocrites in some way, but I cannot worship nor raise my biracial child in a church that is so apostate, one that worships power and cruelty, war and wealth, selfishness and…well… whiteness.
No, I’m not abandoning Jesus Christ or Christianity or the church as a whole, just one expression of it, one that I find painfully, inexpressibly horrid. So I am embarking on a journey to find something of real Christianity and real Christians, if they exist. Who knows what I may find.
But as for now, stick a fork in me, I’m done.
“Imperfect elections and flawed candidates often make for complicated and difficult choices for Christians. But sometimes historic moments arise when more is at stake than partisan politics–when the meaning and integrity of our faith hangs in the balance. This is one of those moments,” reads a petition recently signed by leading evangelicals like the Reverends William Barber and Eugene Cho, as well as Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, and Ron Sider.
“We believe that the centrality of Christ, the importance of both conversion and discipleship, the authority of the Scriptures, and the ‘good news’ of the gospel, especially for the poor and vulnerable, should prevail over ideological politics, and that we must respond when evangelicalism becomes dangerously identified with one particular candidate whose statements, practice, personal morality, and ideology risk damaging our witness to the gospel before the watching world.
“We believe that racism strikes at the heart of the gospel; we believe that racial justice and reconciliation is at the core of the message of Jesus.
“We believe the candidacy of Donald J. Trump has given voice to a movement that affirms racist elements in white culture—both explicit and implicit. Regardless of his recent retraction, Mr. Trump has spread racist ‘birther’ falsehoods for five years trying to delegitimize and humiliate our first African-American president, characterizing him as ‘the other’ and not a real American citizen. He uses fear to demonize and degrade immigrants, foreigners, and people from different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. He launched his presidential campaign by demonizing Mexicans, immigrants, and Muslims, and has repeatedly spoken against migrants and refugees coming to this country—those whom Jesus calls ‘the stranger’ in Matthew 25, where he says that how we treat them is how we treat him. Trump has steadily refused to clearly and aggressively confront extremist voices and movements of white supremacy, some of whom now call him their ‘champion,’ and has therefore helped to take the dangerous fringes of white nationalism in America to the mainstream of politics.”
To read more or sign the petition click here.