One of the comments I got in response to Monday’s post was a fairly simple question: “What exactly do you have in mind when you talk about ‘white evangelical crap?'” It’s a fair question. So here’s an attempt at an answer. Three things come to mind right away.
Folk Civil Religion
There is a sort of American folk religion that blends American patriotism with Christian piety that is quite common in significant segments of the evangelical movement, especially in the south and especially in Baptist circles from what I’m able to tell. (It also shades into a lot of Pentecostalism, at which point it may well no longer be ‘evangelical’ depending on how one defines the term.)
This would be a good example of it:
There are other examples we could cite as well, of course. Mike Pence’s twisting of Hebrews 12, adapting the language of the text and replacing a reference to Jesus with a reference to the American flag would be another instance:
There are other dumber examples one might cite that exemplify the thing I’m talking about in which Christian practice is reduced to a kind of mascot to legitimize our chasing after commercial or political success:
Sean Spicer urges Dancing with the Stars fans to vote for him: "Those of us who stand for #Christ won't be discounted" https://t.co/UY3taqFXGr pic.twitter.com/eZbavaVoiA
— The Hill (@thehill) September 17, 2019
Lifeway research suggests that as many as 2/3 of American churches incorporate patriotic music into their liturgy for public worship during the time around the 4th of July holiday.
So this is one piece of the problem: For many of our nation’s white evangelicals, their patriotic commitments as Americans are so intertwined with their Christian faith that it is very hard for them to imagine a scenario where Christian fidelity actually requires them to reject standard American ideas about identity, wealth, success, and so on.
Brief Bracket: The Challenging Relationship Between Nations and Jesus
Now, there is a trick here that is subtle and worth bearing in mind: The alternative to God-and-country folk religion of this sort should not be a kind of other worldly faith that is almost entirely disengaged from practical questions of political life and government. There are other options we can consider.
The difficulty here is that precisely because the relationship between church and civil life in America is so under-defined, it is very hard to identify the boundary markers that exist between Christian piety and American patriotism.
There’s an arresting passage in Oliver O’Donovan’s Desire of the Nations where he suggests that Christendom actually ended with the ratification of the First Amendment to the American Constitution for precisely for this reason: The establishment clause makes the relationship between church life and civil life inherently blurry and unworkable:
Excluding government from evangelical obedience has had repercussions for the way society itself is conceived. Since the political formation of society lies in its conscious self-ordering under God’s government, a society conceived in abstraction is unformed by moral self-awareness, driven by internal dynamics rather than led by moral purposes. To deny political authority obedience to Christ is implicitly to deny that obedience to society too.
If you deny to government the chance to explicitly acknowledge the kingship of Christ in the very particular and specific way that government ought to, then it becomes very difficult to define the exact relationship between God and government. So government will constantly be veering toward an over-definition of its submission to Jesus or an under-definition of it. How can it not? It has been denied access to any sort of direct guidance as to what the claims of the Christian gospel mean for its own identity and work.
The outcome is likely always going to be the kind of pendulum swinging motion we have in American history between those who essentially collapse patriotism and piety in on each other and those who see piety as having no bearing on civil life whatsoever.
So my point in saying all of this is not to propose any sort of Hauerwasian solution to the problem in which a radical opposition is created between membership in civil society and membership in the church. That won’t work. Rather, my point here is simply to observe that in the absence of any kind of theological framework for thinking about civil life beneath the lordship of Christ, a segment of American religion has been drawn to an approach to these matters that is at best idolatrous if not straightforwardly blasphemous, as in the case of the Vice President’s address last summer.
The Adoption of Consumeristic Mentalities About Wealth
Consider this old clip from a sermon John Piper gave twenty years ago at Southern Seminary:
Or, if you like, consider this more recent clip from Piper:
This attitude looks like Jesus. It should be the normal attitude found within the evangelical church. Obviously, it is not.
Some of the critiques to be made are pretty easy and anyone can make them. Steven Furtick lives in a $1.7m home—or did eight years ago at least. For the sake of my own sanctification, I am not going to spend any more time searching for that information. According to one report, Joel Osteen and his wife own multiple multi-million dollar homes. But these critiques are actually too easy as there is an almost cartoon villain quality to the men in question.
So let’s talk about John MacArthur. Several years ago, the Baylys (no progressives, they) did a deep dive on MacArthur’s finances via publicly available tax records. What they found is that he was almost certainly making around a million dollars annually. I can’t do better than this excoriation of MacArthur based on these figures written by Tim Bayly:
It seems beyond argument that John MacArthur’s annual income from peddling God’s Word is something around $1,000,000 per year. His organizations and his personal contracts with publishing companies pay him this money. It’s my conviction this is good evidence of the love of money and MacArthur’s boards and elders should admonish him and appoint a blue-ribbon committee to take over control of his organizations and royalties, scale his income back to around $200,000, do open bidding on his organization’s video work, and stop paying for his first class tickets.
The Baylys also shared tax forms from Ligonier, showing that in 2010 R.C. Sproul made around $260,000 from his work with Ligonier, which is inappropriately high, in my view, though not nearly so gross and egregious as MacArthur.
Certainly, money is a difficult topic and it is wise when discussing it to leave much to prudence and to, as much as one reasonably can, trust in the sincere faith and Christian character of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Yet at this point it seems to me that greed and hoarding wealth has been so normalized within evangelicalism that it is very difficult for us to actually judge when people have left the path of faithfulness in their use of money.
What I want to suggest, and these are admittedly extreme claims, is that the salaries paid to many megachurch pastors as well as the amount of money poured into megachurch campuses is often unchristian. It is not wrong to have aesthetically pleasing spaces, of course.
But it is very hard for me to imagine Jesus sanctioning a church’s desire to deck out their campus in the way that, to take an obvious example, Willow Creek has. Indeed, it is actually much easier for me to imagine the minor prophets having some very colorful things to say about these campuses and these salaries!
I further want to suggest that in broadly embracing white flight in the 1980s America’s white evangelicals committed themselves to an economic way of living that is inherently antithetical to Christian teachings about wealth and stewardship.
Here too John Piper’s example is refreshingly different from the evangelical norm and a model of fidelity. These claims sound strong, but when you read older Christian theologians on wealth I find it hard to avoid such strong conclusions.
Indifference to Racial Injustice
Finally, traditionally there has been a general indifference to racial injustice amongst white evangelicals that is shameful. This is a long-standing problem as readers of Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail well know.
There are several layers to this indifference, I think. Anecdotally, I have had many experiences of white evangelicals lazily assuming that racial injustice is basically a thing of the past because Jim Crow is gone. Many others have described similar experiences to me—there is a hostility to the idea that racial injustice would still be with us in some way.
Running parallel to this lack of concern with injustice is a lack of curiosity about how things like redlining and mass incarceration affect non-white people in the US (especially black folks), as well as general refusal to simply take black folks at their word when they talk about incidents of racial injustice they have experienced. To cite only two examples of the reality that many black Americans face daily, consider this story from Boston-area art professor Steve Locke:
On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.
I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street. As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me. I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.
“Hey my man,” he said.
He unsnapped the holster of his gun.
I took my hands out of my pockets.
“Yes?” I said.
“Where you coming from?”
How’d you get here?”
He was next to me now. Two other police cars pulled up. I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place. I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class. There were cops all around me.
I said nothing. I looked at the officer who addressed me. He was white, stocky, bearded.
“You weren’t over there, were you?” He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.
“No. I came from Dedham.”
“What’s your address?”
I told him.
“We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman’s house.”
A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded. Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place.
“You fit the description,” the officer said. “Black male, knit hat, puffy coat. Do you have identification.”
“It’s in my wallet. May I reach into my pocket and get my wallet?”
This part is what especially hit me when I first read the post many years ago:
I noticed a black woman further down the block. She was small and concerned. She was watching what was going on. I focused on her red coat. I slowed my breathing. I looked at her from time to time.
I thought: Don’t leave, sister. Please don’t leave.
The first cop said, “Where do you teach?”
“Massachusetts College of Art and Design.” I tugged at the lanyard that had my ID.
“How long you been teaching there?”
We stood in silence for about 10 more minutes.
An unmarked police car pulled up. The first cop went over to talk to the driver. The driver kept looking at me as the cop spoke to him. I looked directly at the driver. He got out of the car.
“I’m Detective Cardoza. I appreciate your cooperation.”
I said nothing.
“I’m sure these officers told you what is going on?”
“Where are you coming from?”
“From my home in Dedham.”
“How did you get here?”
“Where is your car?”
“It’s in the lot behind Bukhara.” I pointed up Centre Street.
“Okay,” the detective said. “We’re going to let you go. Do you have a car key you can show me?”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my car key.”
I showed him the key to my car.
The cops thanked me for my cooperation. I nodded and turned to go.
“Sorry for screwing up your lunch break,” the second cop said.
I walked back toward my car, away from the burrito place. I saw the woman in red.
“Thank you,” I said to her. “Thank you for staying.”
“Are you ok?” She said. Her small beautiful face was lined with concern.
“Not really. I’m really shook up. And I have to get to work.”
“I knew something was wrong. I was watching the whole thing. The way they are treating us now, you have to watch them. “
“I’m so grateful you were there. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Don’t leave, sister.’ May I give you a hug?”
“Yes,” she said. She held me as I shook. “Are you sure you are ok?”
“No I’m not. I’m going to have a good cry in my car. I have to go teach.”
Might I suggest that if a sizable portion of people live in this kind of reality that something is deeply wrong with our nation? And might I further suggest that whatever this something is it should be an object of concern for people who profess to follow Jesus?
This feature from the Dallas Morning News is similarly alarming. It tells the story of a black middle class family in Dallas and describes the fears that the mother in particular lives with every day:
A black gunman hunts police officers at a peaceful rally in downtown Dallas. He takes out three cops at one intersection, sneaks up on another from behind. Bullets slice the air.
By the time the night is done, five officers will be dead.
When the shooting starts, James Waters is less than a mile away, working late at his law office overlooking Victory Park. An American flag hangs above his desk. From where he sits, he cannot hear the gunshots or see the crowd scatter in fear.
His phone rings about 10 p.m. It’s his wife, and she has seen the news.
“I need you to promise you’ll stay there,” she tells him.
It’s July 7, 2016, and the country is already on edge with racial strife fueled by police killings of black men. Alton Sterling, on the ground in Louisiana. Philando Castile, in his car in Minnesota, his T-shirt soaked in blood.
Frances Cudjoe Waters can envision what might happen if her husband leaves the office. There, he’s safe, well-known and well-regarded. Out on the streets, she believes, he’ll be just another black man, a potential target on this night of fear and fury and revenge.
James scrolls through the news on his computer. It has been a long day and he’s ready to go home. The drive takes only 10 minutes. He would probably be fine.
Probably. That small uncertainty captures what it’s like to be African-American today. Making this decision, weighing the risks, when all you want to do is go home to your family, something you could do without a thought if you were white.
James doesn’t want to worry his wife. As helicopters hover over Dallas, he spends the night dozing at his desk, rumpled in his suit, waiting for the sun to rise.
Yet when met with these kind of stories, many white evangelicals I have known do not take these encounters or fears seriously. Rather, they gloss over them before redirecting their focus to other concerns closer to their own experience of day to day life in America. They try to minimize the fear of black Americans. They dismiss the stories. My friend Latrice Ingram’s article about this from several years ago in the Washington Post is reflective of this same general concern.
The public data on these trends fits what I have observed anecdotally. While 82% of black Americans reported to PRRI that they believe that recent police killings of black men and women are part of a broader problem, 71% of white evangelicals believed those events were isolated one-off incidents. While 75% of black Protestants believe President Trump’s behavior in the first two years of his presidency (the study is from 2018) encouraged white supremacists. In contrast, only 26% of white evangelical Protestants thought his behavior had that effect. So I think there is a persistent pattern amongst the demographic group “white evangelicals” to ignore or downplay the problems of racial injustice that still exist within our nation.
The White Evangelical Package
If you gather all three of those things up into a single package, I think you have what you might call the white evangelical package. This is a sort of ideology that imposes itself between people and the teachings of Scripture. What’s really striking is that if you follow the lead of someone like Willie James Jennings, he’d argue that all of this can be summarized under the category of “whiteness.”
According to Jennings, “whiteness” is actually not about skin tone at all; it’s about a certain framework for understanding the human self, human maturity, and the relationship between people and places. He lays this out in a lecture he gave a few years ago at Fuller that you can watch here—the lecture basically goes from the eight minute mark to the 30 minute mark so it’s not terribly long.
The core of the idea is that “whiteness” began when the early colonists in America had to figure out who they were in this strange new land they had stumbled upon and, rather than answering that question in conversation with the local people and the place, they “self-designated,” to use Jennings’ term. In other words, they simply created their own identities, independent of geography and independent of any concern with neighbor. And it is this act of self-designation that Jennings sees as being the heart of “whiteness.”
If you follow Jennings, then all three of those things I’m observing all kinda snap into place together, perhaps. The civil religion exists because America is what protects our ability to self-designate, even when that jeopardizes the health of the land and requires abusing black people, native people, and so on. The economic views exist because an extremely thick doctrine of private property is central to that autonomy—self-designating is expensive, basically. The indifference to race issues exists because one of the clearest testimonies to the problems with American ways of viewing the world, the self, place, and so on is the damage we have done to native peoples and black people especially throughout our history as well as the natural landscapes of the North American continent. The only way to maintain the idea that America is the greatest nation the world has yet seen, that one’s self-designation is an honorable thing to do within a healthy, god-honoring nation, and so on is to refuse to look at what our nation has done to racial minorities.
What’s left after we ditch the white evangelical crap?
I think one of the anxieties that some evangelicals have about this line of critique is a sense of uncertainty about what all of this looks like concretely. Particularly, there is a fear of evangelical churches going the way of the Protestant mainline or becoming the Democratic Party at prayer. But none of what I have said above obliges us to anything like such a vision.
What I imagine churches looking like is precisely what historic Protestantism imagines them looking like: Local Christian congregations defined by the preaching of the Gospel, administration of the Sacraments, and assisting one another in the practices of Christian discipline. More specifically, I’d love to see churches practice regular expository preaching of the Bible, verse by verse, weekly administration of the Lord’s Supper, and the presence of smaller groups within the church that structure their lives in such a way that community happens organically so that they can aid one another in Christian piety as they go about their days rather than as a kind of programmed-in event that fits into a contrived small group format.
As to individual Christian practice, I envision something like what Peter does in 1 Peter. For the vast majority of Christians, Christian fidelity looks quite boring. It’s families and single people together working to provide for their living and to serve neighbor. It’s consistent practices of Sabbath. It’s bearing and raising children. It’s maintaining households and enjoying the small pleasures that such a life affords us. It’s being especially concerned with the needs of the poor, immigrants, widows, orphans, and other forgotten or disadvantaged neighbors in your city or town.
If you want me to be even more specific, I think one example of the sort of evangelical practice, liturgy, and community I’m after would be Bethlehem Baptist. They’re serious about the Bible. They’re serious about neighborly love. They’re busy, energetic, and confident, and they are attentive to the needs of the poor and the immigrant in their neighborhood—or at least that has always been my impression of them from afar. I lived in the Twin Cities for a year after college, have been at Bethlehem for Sunday worship a handful of times, and also have been in their downtown campus building occasionally during the week. What I have seen there is reflective of what I think American evangelicalism could look like.
But it is not the only picture. There can and should be other models in other denominations, other cities, and other neighborhoods that share these same baseline qualities but express them differently because of theological differences within their tradition, differences in place, differences in neighbors. I’m simply trying to present concrete pictures of what it is I’m after so as to be as clear as possible about what I am and am not calling for.
We might put it this way: What is left after we remove the white evangelical crap?
My answer: What is left is the great tradition of catholic Christianity stretching back to the church fathers and up to the present—the Cappadocian Fathers and Athanasius and Augustine and Thomas and Luther and Calvin and Edwards and Owen and Bavinck (and countless more contemporary examples). What is left behind are the liturgical riches of historical Protestantism—the Book of Common Prayer, the Heidelberg Catchism, the Westminster Confession, and so on—to say nothing of the similar riches available in some Lutheran and Catholic liturgies.
What is left are countless models of Christian fidelity that exemplify Christian attitudes toward country, wealth, and neighbor.
Most importantly, what is left seems to look a lot more like Jesus than what has become normal in the past decades in many evangelical churches in America.
I really resonate with much of this article. I’ve felt alienated from evangelicalism ever since I, a center left anti-war non-Bush-worshipping same-sex attracted person, became a Christian during the Bush years. Despite my wariness of much of Evangelicaldom, I never foresaw it getting this bad this quickly. One quick note, though, I don’t think your interjection of “white” is helpful or relevant here. While white people have an outsized representation among Christian nationalist or Covid denying types, linking these sins to skin color is unhelpful and antithetical to bringing the healing and restoration we need.
Another good question might be: how can you reject “the white evangelical package” while still loving fellow believers who identify (perhaps unconsciously) with the precepts of that package? It’s really easy for me to watch craziness like the Jericho March and the subsequent invasion of the Capitol and just say, “God, I thank you that I am not like other white evangelicals — conspiracy theorists, racists, materialists, or even like this Eric Metaxas fellow!” But the fact that a lot of these nuts may genuinely be a part of the body of Christ is a disconcerting truth.
Maybe there’s nothing really to be done about it. I personally don’t know any professing Christians, for example, who believe in the epistles of Q-Anon, and I have no idea how I would communicate with them if I did. The intellectual, political, and cultural gaps between evangelicals may just be too wide to bridge at this point.
But just as some evangelicals may be comforted by their megachurch cocoon of suburban Trumpy whiteness, others can be equally comfortable in their college-educated-urbanish-kind-of-liturgical-local-coffee-and-hey-I-guess-everyone-is-white-here-too churches. Sometimes standing apart from “white evangelical crap” feels less like boldly reforming the church, and more like simply participating in the same growing spatial and cultural divides as everyone else in America.
Thanks for saying real, hard things.
Good list; but you left out Nietzschean-style ressentiment: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/spiritualcoffee/2021/01/the-coddling-of-the-american-president-trumps-greatest-talent-truth-decay-in-america-part-3/?fbclid=IwAR1trYgwokJZRyLOWaHgH9aMfKIea70gF55Av3bewBo7aXECjgosfcj2jfk
I agree with this point. If I had to name a defining feature of my PCA upbringing, it would be the ingrained notion that we white evangelicals were the country’s rightful owners and that our legitimate claims had been taken from us by treasonous white liberals with the help of Blacks, Jews, and non-white immigrants.
Fortunately, my parents didn’t buy into this garbage. But the churches we attended were steeped in this ideology. Of course, this largely predated the rise of Tim Keller. The ressentiment is more a feature of SBC culture today than PCA culture, although it persists in many PCA churches in the South. Briarwood, the PCA’s flagship church, made its property available for Roy Moore’s campaign to carry out campaign-related activities. Harry Reeder, the de facto pope of the PCA, never unequivocally condemned Moore for his past practice of trolling the local mall and preying on underage girls.
Your claims about indifference to racial inequality focuses primarily on claims about generalized bias in policing. You make a lot out of the fact that whites and African Americans have different perceptions about what is going on in policing. I don’t know why that is instructive about the prior question: whether in fact there is such a bias in policing. The fact that two subgroups in America perceive whether the police are biased in their use of force differently is not evidence that either of them is correct.
There is plenty of literature out there on that question. It continues to get ignored, police continue to get slandered with one of the worst possible slanders there is – now for the second time in Mere O —and now white evangelicals who don’t share the right opinion on this question are lumped in too.
Is it not possible that the data doesn’t support your view? Is it not possible that many who don’t agree with you are doing so in good faith based upon evidence? Isn’t it reasonable to ask that you pause your critique of police with such a terrible claim as racism long enough to actually read the data?
Hey Gary, so I think I’ve said this to you before–if not to you I have elsewhere on social media in similar conversations–but I have looked at a lot of data. It’s more mixed than you are admitting. It’s also more mixed than some on the left want to admit, to be sure. But there are several studies showing that black folks are more likely to be pulled over, for instance. (I’m about to head upstairs to help with dinner so I don’t have time to grab them now.) Now, it’s also true that once stopped, most of the data I know of suggests that black folks are no more likely than white to be mistreated by police. But simply because they are far more likely to be stopped, it’s still true that black people are more likely to be mistreated because they are more likely to be stopped. So even if after being stopped the odds are equivalent of being mistreated, the odds of getting stopped in the first place are not equivalent.
Also, have you read the DOJ report on Ferguson’s police? One example of clear racial bias in policing.
In any case, the point about policing is not central to the argument–I used the data I had to try and provide some further support of the thesis, but there is a lot more to the section on race than just police issues. But I’m not picking on police exclusively; I’m observing a broad trend toward various forms of racial injustice in America, of which police are merely one occasional example.
Traffic-stop data is very clear in showing a racial bias – black drivers are more likely to be pulled over than whites during the day, but not at night (where traffic cops can’t see the skin color of the driver).
It’s not as attention-grabbing as shootings, and it’s unfortunate that so many of the BLM conversation has been around shootings where the person shot by police was acting aggressively towards the cops. (Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery being the noteworthy exceptions).
So in your article you talk specifically about police shootings, but when challenged on that (as to which your position is factually and therefore demonstrably wrong), you change the topic to traffic stops. Not very persuasive.
You seem a bit too defensive about this point.
It is beyond debate that white people enjoy disproportionate privilege in this country, especially when it comes to police interactions. For example, I’ve been pulled over for speeding more than a dozen times, and have only received a ticket once. And, in that instance, I called a friend who knew the DA in that county and the ticket was later “dismissed for lack of evidence.” Being white gives you immense access to the levers of power in ways that few racial minorities enjoy.
Jake, let me know if this is inaccurate: The Editorial Board at Mere-O is all White, with the exception of Mr Kamel.
In the event that assessment is inaccurate, the following still applies: Policy, Structure, Systems, Institutions change through concrete, documented, adopted action.
I recommend Mere-O adopt a resolution-slash-policy to ensure diversity on its Board (Editorial, Directors, governing body). That is how the crap changes. Documentation and academics on this are overwhelming (available upon request).
I tried on the Board where I served (resolution-slash-policy available upon request) and diversity was unanimously opposed by vote, except mine. I resigned. Let’s see what happens at Mere-O.
I don’t see anywhere on the website that indicates that the blog is part of a non-profit corporation. So, I doubt that there’s a Board.
Here is Mere-O’s non-profit info:
‘[Third, thanks to a partnership with the New Horizons Foundation,] Mere Orthodoxy is able to receive tax-deductible donations as a non-profit.’
In addition, here is the Editorial Board: https://mereorthodoxy.com/contributors/
In either/both cases, a resolution and/or policy could be proposed.
That simply means that there’s a contractual relationship with New Horizons Foundation Inc. concerning umbrella use of 501(c)(3) status. Such a statement, standing alone, does not suggest that Mere Orthodoxy operates as a non-profit corporation.
An “Editorial Board” is not a Board. In fact, it’s nothing at all unless there is an underlying corporation whose Directors have delegated authority to it to act in some executive capacity with respect to the corporation. Otherwise, it’s a group of friends who have a website together.
No policy can be proposed without an intact legal entity. A contracting party does not have the authority to adopt a policy statement that’s binding on the counterparty to the contract. And, if there’s no intact legal entity, such a statement is without meaning.
I’m generally in favor of efforts to broaden inclusivity, and favor such efforts when it comes to for-profit entities that are benefiting from the liability protections afforded by the corporate veil. But I see no justification for asking private individuals to issue Maoist statements to signal their virtue to self-appointed cultural masters like yourself. After all, as a resident of an Ivy League university town, I know full well that few of those who demand such shows of virtue exhibit like inclusivity in terms of those with whom they voluntarily associate. Liberal self-righteous whites tend to hang out with other liberal self-righteous whites.
I say this because we need genuine efforts towards diversity, and not mere lip service to a kind of tokenism. Policy statements that accomplish no more than to signal virtue don’t lead to true inclusion.
We read that differently.
The reality is that any organization can adopt policies for itself.
Policy is not a statement, per se, but a ‘rule’ for the organization. That’s how policies work. Similarly, resolutions.
‘Statements of Solidarity’—as we have seen over this past year—are not policies, and are not binding.
My point is that there is no legal organization. Hence, there is no legal organization that can adopt a statement.
Assuming that a non-profit organization did exist (which doesn’t appear to be the case here), I see no reason why Directors should be wasting their time issuing legally meaningless statements of solidarity, which are uttered simply to signal virtue to some self-appointed chorus of cultural masters. It represents a kind of tokenism that makes self-righteous white liberals feel better about their own bigotry. But that’s probably all that it accomplishes.
Yes, thanks, I understood the point from the previous comments. The drafting of the resolution and policy avoid this by setting goals and requirements for the organization to abide by. That is what alters the structure.
Some of the comments here show just how critical race is to the discussion. This was a fantastic analysis of the current ills of evangelicalism.
Beautiful vision. I love the “what is left” conclusion.
[…] Jake Meador organized these examples and provides more context in an article that can be found here. The point is: Christians in the USA (and elsewhere!) have wrapped their political ideals with […]
“ What is left is the great tradition of catholic Christianity stretching back to the church fathers and up to the present—the Cappadocian Fathers and Athanasius and Augustine and Thomas and Luther and Calvin and Edwards and Owen and Bavinck (and countless more contemporary examples). What is left behind are the liturgical riches of historical Protestantism—the Book of Common Prayer, the Heidelberg Catchism, the Westminster Confession, and so on.” AND as much CRT as Jake thinks he can get away with.
With respect to #3, a continued frustration is the use of anecdotes to indicate long-term trends. Given the tremendous social pressure to go along with a very specific approach to racial justice, it would be something of a relief to be able to buy in whole-hog. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. The three mainstream approaches have been to list (genuinely horrifying) anecdotes (which amount to nothing; the US is a big country and you can find a bunch of anecdotes to support anything), the second it to cite perception of racial discrimination (which is worth paying attention to, but if every institution starts telling you that you live in a white supremacist nation than that’s bound to impact your perception), and the third is to take statistics widely out of context. (e.g., police shootings). That doesn’t mean that there aren’t genuinely concerning statistics out there, but it is to say BLM and their allies tend to present a very wobbly argument. Someone below cited discrepancies in traffic stops that disappear at night; that’s far more compelling than anecdotes.
It also doesn’t address the fact that to notice there is a problem is not the same as diagnosis the problem. There is an assumption, I think, that if Christians don’t buy into CRT then they are indifferent to non-White Christians. That doesn’t follow to me. CRT may be a poor response, in means and/or ends, to a real problem.
Finally, there’s the issue of resolution. Lots of these issue tends to assume that the same situation is true across the country. Why would we think that? If there’s any truism associated with contemporary American life, it’s that the US is a divided country. Why would we imagine that the same issues are present equally across the country in equal intensity? It would seem that the specific problem and the appropriate solution will likely vary location to location.
And let’s not forget Charlie Kirk and the Boom Girls.
I am white and Christian. Until recently, I would have said Evangelical, but it’s hard to use a word that so rapidly accumulates baggage. I resonate with the points about patriotic syncretism and greed both being good examples of “white evangelical crap,” (though I’m not sure the adjective “white” has much significance.)
However, the accusation that whites “lazily [assume] that racial injustice is basically a thing of the past,” is misguided—at least the story of Steve Locke is definitely not a good example of it. This is an issue of particular concern for me as a white person in a mixed race (black and white) family.
Locke’s experience with the police is an unfortunate one, but what would have been the right way for the police to handle it? Should they have said, “He fits the description of the guy who just broke into a woman’s house. But we better not say anything because he’s black.”? Wouldn’t the guy who broke into the woman’s house be a more appropriate target of disdain?
I was once detained and interrogated by a police detective for bringing a Tupperware container of soup to a guy in a crack house, but I didn’t leave shaken by it. The detective was doing his job in a neighborhood where most people who look like me commit crimes.
The accusation that “there is a hostility to the idea that racial injustice would still be with us in some way” seems tendentious to me. Might it also be the case that there is a hostility to the idea that, in a nation which elected a two-term black president and where some of the most influential and wealthiest celebrities are black, racism is no longer a “systemic” problem.
When I hear some of these things, I usually append (under my breath): “Brought to you by the AmeriChrist Corporation (TM)”.
Joking aside, though, my experience tends to be that those condemning members of the AmeriChrist Corporation for lack of love often don’t have any themselves and are applauded no matter how vitriolic their excoriation may be, because left-of-center is cool and trendy. Appreciate you approaching the topic with grace and even-handedness.
[…] do well to remember Jesus’ rebuke of Simon Peter (Mark 8:33). My observations are not entirely unique. Nevertheless, I believe I may give those who share my concerns a stronger base for proposing a […]