Lipscomb University hosts African-American Student Meal

Recently the President of Lipscomb University, in Nashville, TN, hosted a Latino meal for Latino students at his home. The President served them fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice.

The next evening the President served the African-American students (7% of the student population): BBQ ribs, BBQ fried chicken,  black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and mac & cheese. The center pieces included stalks of cotton with cotton bolls attached.

When students asked the President about the choice of centerpieces, he said they were a fall theme. A student said it reminded her of her slave ancestry. He replied that “it is just cotton, everyone wears cotton, so how can one be offended?” and walked away.

The next day he issued a huge apology, also having spokespeople state that the centerpieces were the same for the Latino students, and that the choice of menu was just the food service rotating meals.

Really? So it was just a coincidence that the Latino students received fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice? And the very next night the African-American students received fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and black-eyed peas? Seriously? Either that is a HUGE coincidence, or the President is lying. In fact the president didn’t lie, he just refused to answer the question, when pressed, mentioning brownies and cookies, and “two or three different kinds of meats”, leaving the impression that they didn’t specifically cook an African-American meal.

Cedric Duncan, a former student, said in a Facebook forum: “they were fed cornbread and collard greens which, after working alongside lipscomb catering, i know that is pretty unusual for them to make that.”

And if the President of Lipscomb University is lying about the menu, could he also be lying about the centerpieces? Not that he personally chose the menu and the centerpieces, but someone did. Someone who was trying to be nice, but doesn’t realize they are racist, like most Christians in the Bible belt. Nobody thinks they are racist.

This is familiar territory for me, having grown up in the Churches of Christ. People in the Churches of Christ are weakest in the area of shame issues, racism and emotional honesty.

In addition to these gaffs, the students had been invited to the dinner to let the President know how they were experiencing Lipscomb University. Only they were never given a chance to say anything. They just had to listen to the President talk and talk about himself, his wife, and David Lipscomb. No listening. In his apology he stated he wanted to “engage in more conversations with students at the group and individual level.” Yeah, like they already had even one conversation? And these students would want to have more conversations with him?

So the students were pissed.

In the ensuing brou-ha-ha all the racism of the Church of Christ came trotting out in various Instagram and Facebook posts by Lipscomb students and alumni: “How could you be offended?” “Cotton is cotton, everyone wears cotton.” “They were being nice to you. Say, thank you.” “Everyone eats collard greens and black-eyed peas.” “We are raising a generation of crybabies.” “Slavery ended a long time ago. Get over it.” Etc.

That last one got me to thinking. When did racism end in the United States?

1772–a British judge brought about the conditions that would end slavery in England.

1776–The United States declared independence from Great Britain partially because Great Britain wanted to end the barbaric importation of slaves. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners (41 out of 56 signers), including George Washington (who owned 317 slaves).

1790-1801–The

Alexander_Campbell_Age_65

Alexander Campbell

spawning of the Disciples of Christ, Christian Church and Churches of Christ. Lipscomb University is named after one of the founders of the Restoration Movement, David Lipscomb,

lipscomb

DAvid Lipscomb 1831-1917

one of the least racist members of the movement, who preached against slavery, and inspired several to free their slaves.

1881–The Confederate States secede from the United States because the United States was becoming increasingly hostile to slavery.

1863–Abraham Lincoln frees the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.

1860s–The Ku Klux Klan is formed amidst Reconstruction, to keep blacks from integrating with whites, among other things. Intimidation is the main form of enforcement.

1946–The last public lynchings of black people, tickets were sold to some lynchings (before 1927), trains were chartered, picnics on the lawn before the lynching in the early afternoon, and family photos were taken with the dead body hanging in the background, and postcards of the event were sold.

1945–Black soldiers returning to the United States are denied the right to FHA and VA loans to buy houses.

1955–Blacks begin to sit in the front of the bus.

1954–The Supreme Court rules that segregation of schools is unconstitutional.

bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday: White police beat blacks for marching for the right to register to vote and serve on juries.

1960s–Black people march for the right to register to vote, and to serve on juries. Black people begin to sit down in whites-only lunch diners.

1967–Martin Luther King is assassinated. White people laugh and rejoice. Blacks weep or riot.

1970s–The Supreme Court forces busing of students to achieve integrated schools. Whites respond by moving out of cities into white suburbs.

1972–Nixon and Ehrlichman despair of the hippies and the blacks who would not vote for Nixon. They devise a plan to intimidate and imprison hippies and blacks: the War on Drugs.

1970s–Church of Christ colleges finally admit black students, because of the threat of segregated colleges losing their federal non-profit status. This resulted in the loss of some of their donors who opposed integration.

2000s–Videos begin to appear on the internet, of police roughing up, and sometimes killing, seemingly harmless blacks: school teachers, college professors, nurses, etc. Not a single police officer is found guilty of misconduct.

2008–First black president of the United States is elected. Angry opposers insist he is Muslim, and born in Africa. Trump calls for his long form birth certificate.

2013–Black Lives Matter movement begins to counter the treatment of blacks by police.

2017–Trump refuses to endorse the Black Lives Matter Movement, instead he encourages the police to rough up their suspectsLipscomb meal

2017–Lipscomb University hosts a stereotyped meal for black students, complete with fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, and lectures the black students on how anti-racist the university’s founder was.

So when did racism end in the United States?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fundamentalism is New

Christian leaders, 170 years after Christ died, were not fundamentalists. Take for example the Creation story. They had no problem saying that the Creation story was not seven literal 24 hours.

220px-Origen by Thevet

Origen of Alexandria, by Theve

Origen on the creation story:

Consider this passage from On First Principles Book 4 as translated from the Greek.

For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally. (Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 4, p. 365)

Read more here.

So where did fundamentalism come from? Some believe it started in the 15th century after Christ, when the printing press was invented, the first Bibles were printed, and the public had more access to reading the biblical text for themselves. Previously the Church owned almost all the copies of the Bible.

pioneer familyOthers believe fundamentalism began in the United States in the 1700s and 1800s as the pioneer frontier moved westward, and each farm family had only one book: the Bible (and each church had no instruments of music). As towns became more established, and the people came into contact with theologians who questioned the text of the Bible, they reacted strongly. They insisted that the Bible was correct, and furthermore that it was to be taken literally.

Of course nobody takes every story in the Bible literally (e.g. dreams that have allegorical interpretations). But some take them far more literally than others.

Varying levels of inspiration:

All denominations confess that the Bible is God-breathed and inspired. Only the evangelical, fundamentalist and pentecostal denominations believe that it is word for word inspired in the original manuscripts. Pentecostal, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Orthodox and Methodist churches also believe that their Confessions are inspired by the Holy Spirit, as well as their books of catechism, their order of worship and prayer books.

Pentecostals often believe that their sermons, prayers and songs are inspired by the Holy Spirit, but not 100%.

Many groups have a particular leader or prophet they believe has been spoken to by God, and insist that their prophet is partially or wholly perfect when speaking for God. The Catholic Church believes that when the pope speaks ex cathedra (from the throne) that his words are completely inspired. The last two times a pope spoke ex cathedra was in 1854 and 1950 defining the doctrines about Mary’s birth and assumption into heaven. The Catholic Church also believe their places of worship, the waters of baptism, and their communion is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Roman Catholic Church owned a monopoly on religion in Western Europe and levied a 10% tax on the entire continent, resulting in fabulous wealth for the Church. Even the Catholic Church agrees that it became incredibly corrupt during the Middle Ages in Europe, as evidenced by the fact that in 1087 the pope insisted on celibacy of the clergy, so wealth could not be handed down from priest-fathers to priest-sons. Several groups made attempts at breaking away both for religious reasons and for economic reasons. Success in breaking the power of the Catholic Church only came in the 1400s with the invention of the printing press, the printing of the Bible, and the publication of dissenting literature. The Inquisition began, dissenters were burned at the stake, wars were fought, but eventually the Catholic Church lost.

One of the big questions was: how inspired is the Church, the hierarchy, the bishops, the archbishops, the pope? How inspired are the cathedrals and churches? What about the altar inside the church? What about the bread and wine of communion that has been blessed by the church? What about the holy water, and the rituals of baptism, marriage and funerals conducted by the church?

There are multiple beliefs, with the older hierarchical churches (Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist) maintaining some of the apostolic succession, and some of the beliefs in the indwelling of the communion bread and wine.

ulrich-zwingliThe strongest winner, though, was Ulrich Zwingli, city chaplain of Zurich, Switzerland, the second great Reformationist, after Luther, who taught that Christ was the only mediator, not the church, that communion and baptism were only symbolic, and that there was no indwelling in the water, bread or wine. 

It is odd for us in this century to imagine what it was like to oppose the Church in the 1500s in Europe. Where did the Church get its authority? The Church had a huge miltary, the Church owned huge estates, kept records on who laid hands on each priest all the way back to the apostles and Christ. The Church took charge of all the manuscripts of the Scriptures, and was in charge of all the translations into Latin. (None of the Scriptures had been translated into the language of the people until upstarts published translations not sanctioned by the Church, which the Church burned, along with their translators.) The Church baptized infants, performed legal weddings, performed last rites, funerals and burials in holy ground. The Church operated all of the licensing of the trades, from bakers to carpenters. The Church appointed Kings of each nation.

If you were to attack the authority of the Church and establish your own authority for a competing church, where would you start?  Luther nailed 95 theses to the bulletin board on the church door, objecting to the corruption of a money-hungry Church, trying to pay for the new St Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, with ceilings painted by Michelangelo. The Church sent a slick salesman to sell newly printed (and inspired) indulgences (forgiveness of sins) throughout Germany (the riches country at the time). Luther was furious. But he only attacked the papacy and the selling of indulgences; little else.

Zwingli went much further. And he won.

Days of Creation

Today’s evangelicals: do not believe their songs are 100% inspired, do not believe their prayers, sermons, commentaries, or books are completely inspired, do not believe their translations of the Bible are 100% inspired, do not believe their church buildings, denominations, or charities are completely inspired. But they insist the Bible is 100% inspired, in the original manuscripts, which they agree no longer exist. They agree the handmade copies of the original manuscripts are not 100% inspired.

And for some reason this prompts them to insist that the Creation story be taken literally, seven 24 hour days, even though the sun, moon and stars don’t show up until Day Four.

Yes, I know these are two separate subjects: “how literally to take inspired scripture?” is a separate subject from “how inspired is the Bible?”, but evangelicals see them as one.

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Evangelicals and Racism

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May demonstration around statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

With the recent alt right demonstration, counter-demonstration and violence in South Carolina, I would like to reiterate my understanding of white evangelicalism in America: That it is used largely as a cover for racism and ethnocentrism. We don’t want to change, we don’t want to look at how other people are hurting, we don’t want to look at our own sins, so we create unconsciously, a system of churches that helps us stay in our denial.

I wrote a year ago that Trump was the last great hurrah of white racism in the USA. Whites know that the percentage of their piece the American pie is shrinking. They know they will never be able to elect a president again, so they are trying to figure out how to reverse history. How can they suppress more non-white votes? How can they stop non-whites from immigrating?

Nixon&EhrlichmanI grew up in the Nixon era. Recently Nixon’s top aide, John Ehrlichman stated that they had conversations in the White House as to how to stop the rise of black voters and anti-war voters (who were against Nixon). They came up with the War on Drugs. They figured out how to criminalize the drugs of choice of black people and hippies. So even though whites and blacks have the same drug taking levels, black men spend more time in jail. Anyone convicted of a felon is not permitted to vote in many states. This lowers the voting power of blacks just enough to make it difficult for their vote to matter. All they needed in many areas was to tip the scale by 3%. The older generation cheered the War on Drugs, most not knowing it was a racist war, thinking it was against opium dens. TV and movies played along with the black actor playing the obligatory drug dealer or pimp, and the black actress playing the stereotypical drug addict or whore.

Photo of Michael JacksonI remember clearly when the supreme court forced integration on white high schools in the early 1970s (when Michael Jackson was growing up). The white high schools hit back by making rules that no student with an Afro hair style could have their photo taken for the yearbook, because Afro hair styles weren’t decent, they were hippie hairstyles. White churches remained silent. White parents were devastated and terrified that their children had to go to school with those violent black students, who swore and had sex, took drugs and stole things. Welfare children! White families moved out to whiter suburbs.

This was the same era that denied black families the right to buy homes through the FHA program. So black families were renting in crowded inner cities. If they moved into a white neighborhood they risked having their house burned down. Who wanted their white daughters marrying a drug dealing black man and having criminal babies?

Now that the percentage of nonwhites has gone up, and the percentage of whites will soon fall below 50%, whites have become desperate. So they elected Trump who promised a war on Muslim immigration, a wall to keep out illegal Mexicans, and a defense of rough police tactics against drug-dealers and protesters. This will be the last president they have the voting power to elect.

What is the most segregated hour in America? Sunday morning worship time. Church planting boot camps teach that if you want to start a church, it has to be homogeneous (only one kind of people), so choose your race and your income bracket and stick to it. Those churches that are integrated struggle with how to respond to pressing moral race issues of the day. The whites want things to stay the same, and blacks want people to know that things haven’t been anywhere close to fair for 500 years. How can they worship together when blacks feel they are not heard?

Confederate General Robert E. Lee:

The war was not about slavery, but if it was about slavery, it was only out of Christian devotion that white southerners fought to keep blacks enslaved…unless some humane course is adopted, based on wisdom and Christian principles you do a gross wrong and injustice to the whole negro race in setting them free. And it is only this consideration that has led the wisdom, intelligence and Christianity of the South to support and defend the institution up to this time.”

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How St Augustine made Sex Evil

Saint_Augustine_and_Saint_Monica

St Augustine and his mother, Monica

I recently read an article by Stephen Greenblatt in the New Yorker about St Augustine, who fomented the worst turn in Christianity. He came up with the idea that all sexual urges are sinful, all sex is somewhat sinful, and the only people who were born without sin were the two who were born without sexual intercourse: Adam (and Eve) and Jesus. Along the way he had to invent original sin and predestination to make his theology work.

St Augustine has probably done more to tear down real Christianity than any other church father.

St Augustine was born to Patricius, a pagan father, and Monica, a Christian mother, about 300 years after Jesus. His father was unfaithful and sometimes mocked Monica’s belief. Patricius took Augustine to the public baths one day when Augustine was around 16 years old, and was thrilled to see his son’s boner. He brought his son home and announced to his wife that his son had a wonderful man’s boner and would soon be using that boner to produce children, and wouldn’t they be proud of their grandchildren? (First of all, was Augustine traumatized by his Dad pointing out his boner at the public baths?) Augustine’s mother was horrified by the prospect of her darling son having carnal sex. Augustine writes that his mother, “in whose breast God had already started to build his temple…endured a violent spasm of reverent, tremulous trepidation.” (Augustine seems unaware of how much sexual energy he attributes to his mother’s chaste attitudes toward sex.)

Monica impressed upon her son that sex was evil, carnal and ungodly. “She made a considerable bustle,” Augustine writes in his Confessions to God, “to insure that you, my God, were my father rather than him.”  Patricius died the following year, and Augustine does not sound sad when he records his passing, even though his father and his father’s mother had converted to Christianity that year.

Augustine was split between his mother’s view of sex and his father’s view of sex. He began studying to be a lawyer at the university of Carthage, had a series of affairs (he describes as “putrid rutting”), and took a mistress. For the next 14 years he remained faithful to his mistress, and had a son, Adeodatus.

His mother Monica, was upset that he had studied Manichaeanism, the belief that there are two opposing forces in the world: good and evil. She cried and wept as if Augustine had died. When he prepared to leave for Rome and Milan for a promotion as a university lecturer in philosophy, she wept: “She was hanging onto me coercively, trying to stop my journey or come along with me on it.” He told her a lie to get away from her. Augustine describes her longing as “carnal desire” or “physical longing”, the curse that Eve had to bear after tempting Adam with the fruit in the Garden of Eden.

In Milan Augustine listened to the sermons of Ambrose and began to soften in his view of the Biblical stories, beginning to see them as stories of profound mysteries. And his mother moved in with him. She arranged a marriage to a suitable girl of status, who would be marriageable age in two years, and arranged for Augustine to send his mistress and son away.

Augustine writes, “My heart, which had been fused with hers, was mutilated by the wound, and I limped along trailing blood.” His mistress vowed never to take another man. He sent the mistress and son back to Africa where she came from, never to support them or hear from them again, and quickly took another mistress as he waited for his fiancee to become old enough to marry. He expects the reader to understand the difference between a legal marriage for the purpose of bearing children, and “a deal arising from lustful infatuation.”

Within a year he converted to Catholicism, broke off his engagement, took a vow of chastity and determined to go back home and found a monastic community. He was diving headlong into his mother’s dreams.

The day before Augustine and Monica sailed for Africa they concluded that their joy was much greater than anything carnal, this was the joy of the saints and nothing carnal could compare with it. Then they experienced a physical feeling of climbing higher and higher, “stretching upward with a more fiery emotion,” “while we were speaking and panting for it, with a thrust that required all the heart’s strength, we brushed against it slightly.” When the 32 year old Augustine and his 55 year old mother were done, they sighed. (Notice the sexual wording Augustine uses in this description.)

A few days later, Monica died. Augustine’s Confessions then move on to discussing how evil sex is, and how everyone is born with the original sin that sexual intercourse implants in each one of us. Augustine dissects and re-dissects the story of Adam and Eve until he can get it to say that sex is evil, and no sex happened before the Fall.

Augustine broods for decades over the fact that we don’t have logical power over our sexual desires, and we can’t just command our sexual parts to procreate at appropriate times. He acknowledges that sex is the greatest physical pleasure, but insists, “surely any friend of wisdom and holy joys…would prefer, if possible, to beget children without lust.”

Augustine is horrified by the “very movements which it causes, to our sorrow, even in sleep, and even in the bodies of chaste men”.

The biggest voice that disagreed with Augustine was the British born monk, Pelagius, who believed that we are all born innocent. We are free to serve God or serve Satan.

Augustine said that was hopelessly naive. that we are in a mass of sin.

Pelagius countered that Augustine was just repeating the old Manichaean belief that the flesh was evil. This could not be, because clearly Christ had become flesh and dwelt among us, yet without sin.

Detractors of Pelagius said he was teaching salvation by works, or earning one’s salvation. Salvation by grace and forgiveness are the cornerstones of Christianity. Pelagius maintained that he was in no way teaching salvation by works, but his detractors won the battle.

Augustine said that Christ was born of a virgin, conceived of “not flesh but spirit, not lust but faith,” therefore without the original sin of Adam stamped upon his spirit, “lust being utterly absent.”

AdamEveSo Augustine delved deep into the story of Adam and Eve. After the fall they knew that they were naked and felt ashamed. That was the dawn of lust, as far as Augustine was concerned. That is when the first sinful boner occurred. His mother had been proved right and his father had been proved wrong.

Pelagius was eventually excommunicated for heresy, believing that we have the power to obey God of our own free will. This “heretical” doctrine is still in practice with the Churches of Christ, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Eastern Orthodox, the Coptic Church, Judaism, and others.

JohnMiltonParadiseLost

Illustration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Augustine shows all the signs of emotional incest. Parents who are split in their childrearing. A mother who is horrified by sex (probably having been sexually traumatized as a child). A son who tries to rescue his mother from her trauma, but who only reinforces it. A son who is taken over by his mother as an emotional spouse, sending his mistress and his son, whom he loved dearly, away, and vowing never to have sex again.

Augustine is histrionic: overly dramatic and easily influenced by his mother. Histrionics usually are ignored by the same-sex parent and made into a mini-spouse by the opposite sex parent.

The Christian world has been duped by sexually traumatized people. John Calvin based his theories of predestination on St Augustine’s: Humans, born in sin, cannot of their own free will choose God, they have to wait  for God to choose them. God knows who he will choose before they are born, therefore we have been predestined to heaven or hell before we are born. Nobody can complain about this because we all have fallen short of the glory of God through our progenitors, Adam and Eve.  Truly one of the most evil doctrines ever foisted upon Christianity.

Sex is exactly the way God designed it. (Yes, we live in a fallen world. Yes, nobody has a perfect sexuality). But to decide that sexual desire itself is evil? Only a traumatized person could come up with that theory.

Our spirits are housed in a physical body. We have only to look at animals to see what natural human bodies function like. We have spirits that live inside animal bodies.

Pelagius:

“You will realise that doctrines are the invention of the human mind, as it tries to penetrate the mystery of God. You will realise that scripture itself is the work of human recording the example and teaching of Jesus. Thus it is not what you believe (in your head) that matters; it is how you respond with your heart and your actions. It is not believing in Christ that matters, but becoming like him.”

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The Fundamental Dishonesty of Evangelicalism

WilkersonTeen Challenge is a Christian evangelical/ pentecostal organization, founded by Bill Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade, which became a popular movie in 1970. Teen Challenge does drug and alcohol rehab. So far so good, except they are not primarily for teens. They started out as an organization for teen drug addicts, but now they are mostly not. Yes, they serve anyone over 18 years old, and a small portion of them are still teenagers. But 80% of the “teens” in teen challenge are over 20 years old.

So why don’t they change their name to Adult Challenge? Well, they have, sort of. They are now called Adult and Teen Challenge, but the local branch, which serves only adult men, still raises funds under the name: Teen Challenge. Because they couldn’t raise even half the amount of money they raise now if they gave up the Teen moniker. The public would much rather donate to an organization that is selflessly helping 16 year old drug addicts than adult drug addicts. So it is more important to them to mislead their donors into thinking that 90% of their donation is going to minors, and collect more money, than to be honest and tell people that their money is going to adult addicts. All while teaching their adults to be honest with their emotions so they won’t be drug addicted.

Additionally, over half the time of the participants who are being treated for drug and alcohol addiction is spent fund raising.

Most of the residents who enter Teen Challenge for rehab, have petitioned a judge to sentence them to Teen Challenge rehab instead of going to jail. Many courts grant this. The addicts in rehab are charged $800 per month, and also have to go out and “witness” to congregations, asking for donations. They set up tables in parking lots and on sidewalks asking for donations to Teen Challenge. Up to 80% of a participant’s time is spent unsupervised, raising funds. This is not made clear to participants when they are signing up for a 12 to 18 month rehab stint. But their choice is: go along with the 80% fund raising, or go to jail. This emphasis is also not made clear to the donors, who think these adults (“teens”) are spending the majority of their time studying for the GED, in Bible study, in wholesome activities, and learning how to be sober.

Teen Challenge is an authoritarian organization, much like an alcoholic family. The thinking is black and white, either-or, all or nothing. Teams of 3 or 4 participants are sent out to set up a table in a parking lot for several hours, or several days, asking for donations. One of these groups slipped up and bought beer while they were out fund raising for 4 days, and when the truth came out, all their privileges were wiped out and they had to start back at square one: no visits, and no phone calls from their relatives.

Teen Challenge encourages “witnessing”, which means the participant has to be ready to give a one minute to ten minute recap of their addiction sins and how God has helped them come to Teen Challenge and reform. At the conclusion of each “witness” there is the broad hint one should donate money.  Teen Challenge calls churches and asks if they can sing at their church. The church sets up a time for the “teens” to come sing. They play recordings of worship songs, while a group of 5 or 6 adult participants sing along to the recordings. Then each participant does their testimony/witness, and then they ask for money.

Teen Challenge is not alone. The local high school and college campus ministries spend half their time fund raising. Youth With a Mission, Young Life, Campus Crusade and Intervarsity, all spend fully 50% of employed leadership time fund raising. If you are a volunteer on Young Life Committee, then 95% of your purpose is to help the leader fund raise. When I attended a church plant for a few years, there were two young women, one a recent convert and the other a Roman Catholic, who were claimed by both Campus Crusade and the church plant as their special converts. Those two young women, now not attending any church, were used as the reasons for fund raising in 2 different organizations.

The evangelical and pentecostal practice of “witnessing” or “giving one’s testimony” is supposed to build up our faith. The only problem with the practice is that the stories become more dramatic as they are re-told, until the stories are amazing and wonderful, and a bit too hard to believe. There are no investigative journalists to dig and find out how much of their stories are actually true. They are rewarded for exaggerating their stories. As believers slowly realize that many of these stories aren’t completely true, it ends up tearing people’s faith down instead of building faith up.

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White Churches aren’t Biased

Recently a new book on Housing Bias has been published and the author, Paul Boudreaux is doing the radio interview rounds.  The Federal Housing Administration was created in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression (my parents’ era) to encourage home ownership by federally guaranteeing home loans, making it possible to purchase a house with only a 10% down payment. Today, instead of the bank required 20% down, a new home buyer can put only 3% down and FHA will help the buyer qualify for a house loan.

Except in 1934 the FHA refused to guarantee loans to black people, or any loans to people who lived in mixed neighborhoods or neighborhoods anywhere near black people. Why? Because those neighborhoods were deemed unstable, and the FHA was afraid if the house went down in value and they had to repossess it, they couldn’t resell repossessed houses in those neighborhoods. After all, who wants to live in a black neighborhood?

Redlining_0The FHA had maps of all the black and mixed race areas of town (in red) to make sure they didn’t guarantee any loans on houses in those areas. White neighborhoods could only receive FHA guaranteed loans if they included restrictions in the deeds, making sure owners could not sell to black people, in order to make sure the neighborhood didn’t lose its value.

In this way huge amounts of money flowed into white neighborhoods, while no federally guaranteed loans flowed into black neighborhoods, as in NONE. Therefore the white neighborhoods looked rich, and the black neighborhoods looked poor.

“Why are these houses so small and ugly, Mommy?”

“Black people don’t know how to take care of their houses, honey.”

On top of that, cities would zone areas for warehouses and industry, predictably, not in the new white suburbs awash in lucrative federally backed mortgages. No, the black neighborhoods were zoned for warehouses and industries that belched black smoke and loud noises, and had big trucks trundling back and forth.

When black people wanted to buy houses, there were no neighborhoods available to them. So their existing neighborhoods became overcrowded.

As housing prices appreciated over the years. Whites who had been given the opportunity to buy houses in the suburbs had houses to borrow money against, to buy things like cars, second homes, investment property, new businesses and college for their kids.

These FHA policies continued through the boom of suburbs after WW2 in 1945. As white soldiers came home from the war, they bought houses in white neighborhoods, backed by the FHA. As black soldiers came home from the war, they could not receive an FHA loan, and were not permitted to buy a home in the suburbs. Through the Civil Rights protests of the 1950s, the back-of-the-bus boycotts, the voting rights marches, white flight into the suburbs, school desegregation, the hysteria of the Beatles, the race riots (that proved to white people that blacks were uncivilized), these policies continued, only changing in 1967, when I was 10 years old.

In 1967 the first black family moved into Plainfield, Indiana, a white suburb of black dominated Indianapolis. We were astounded when a black child appeared in the cafeteria of our school. We kept on standing up so we could see her. Finally the teacher placed her at the head of the long cafeteria table. So we could all stare at her without having to stand up. She was in the third grade. looked down at the table and chewed her sandwich slowly, as the children laughed and whispered the N word. (The black family did not move to Mooresville, where there was an active KKK group.)

By this time my family owned two houses. One we lived in, and one we rented out.

Today an average black person earns about 60 cents for every dollar an average white person earns. But the average black person still owns only 6% of what an average white person owns. Why? Because housing appreciates in value and is inherited through the generations.

My grandfather was a high school teacher who bought a house in San Bernadino, California in the 1930s, probably with FHA guaranteed loans. Then my grandparents opened a not very successful diner, probably borrowing money on their house. In the same way they bought farm land in Mississippi. When my grandparents died, their assets were inherited by my father and my aunt. None of this was available to black households until 1967. So my family, at the lower end of the middle class, has a huge financial jump on black families. The average white household now owns $111,000 in assets (mostly in their house), while the average black household owns only $7,000 in assets. Latino assets are similar to black assets.

What led to the change in government policy that opened up the FHA to let blacks have ANTI INTEGRATIONfederally backed mortgages and buy housing wherever they could afford it? Racial unrest in the 1950s and 1960s. The bus boycott of Montgomery, Alabama, when blacks refused to sit in the back of the bus, the lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s when blacks sat at whites-only lunch counters for days, waiting to be served, while whites spat on them. Voter registration marches, when blacks had fire hoses set on them, dogs and horses from state police attacking them with batons.

A preacher friend of mine who grew up in Arkansas said he remembers a preacher from the pulpit in a Church of Christ referring to “Martin Lucifer Koon.” Such was the hatred of blacks changing the lives of whites.

As blacks moved into white areas, high schools changed their dress codes. They banned all Afro hair styles, or made the rule that no student with an Afro hairstyle could have their picture taken for the student yearbook. Some of these rules were unconscious, white people were scandalized by black culture, seeing it as eroding the morals of white culture. Didn’t everyone know that blacks were much more promiscuous than whites?  That’s why they are so poor! Would you want your daughter dating a black man? (Black maids and field workers were often expected to sexually service their white employers long after slavery officially ended.)

My parents relate how deacons or elders would stand at the back of the church in the 1960s and if a black family would come in, they would  let them know that there was a black Church of Christ across town where they would feel more comfortable. My mother said, “And they thought they were doing that family a kindness!”

After the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1967, President Nixon launched the War on Drugs, in which distributing powdered cocaine (used by white people) received a much lower prison sentence than distributing crack cocaine (used by black people), which received a mandatory 30 year sentence with no chance of parole. Enforcement was uneven against blacks vs whites arrested for drug offences. Many believe the War on Drugs was a substitute for the housing bias against black people. All you have to do is put 5% of black people in jail with felonies, and they can never vote again, their voting power is weakened enough so they cannot gain power. Most presidential elections are won by narrow margins.

Now (mostly) white evangelical churches are longing for those bygone eras of white neighborhoods and white schools. During the 1950s and 1960s one factory salary could support a wife, kids, house in the suburbs and a car in the driveway. Whites look back with nostalgia, confusing global imports with the integration of the last 50 years. Most factories have moved to countries who pay 15 cents an hour. The only jobs left here are ones that cannot be exported: food, delivery, leisure and hotels, technology, housing, construction, education, finance and healthcare.

White churches voted for racial inequality in the last election. They deny it, because they know racial inequality is a sin. They justify it by saying poor people are lazy, generations are on welfare, taking up our healthcare system, translation: blacks. White churches also justify their voting by saying that they were saving the lives of the unborn, voting against abortion. this rings hollow when at the same time they are voting against healthcare dollars for the unborn and for pregnant women. (White evangelicals also had concerns about judges nominated for the Supreme Court, religious liberty, and gay rights.)

White evangelicalism is a whited sepulcher. Pretty on the outside, full of rot on the inside.

Posted in civil rights, Evangelical Church, History, politics | 17 Comments

The Horror of the Good Looking Family

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