Evangelicals and Racism


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.”


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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3 Responses to Evangelicals and Racism

  1. It is all so depressing. As a sixty six year old, I’ve lived through all lot of this and thought we had made more progress. I hope you are right that Trump is the last hurrah of white racism. So what do we do? We cannot make hate go away with hate. I heard a moving interview with a former white supremacist on Al Sharpton’s show yesterday morning, beginning at about 5:15 minutes of this segment. His name is Arno Michaelis and he is author of My Life After Hate. He described a cycle of blaming others for one’s own problems and how he was eventually able to get out of it. I did my best to transcribe what he said.

    “… I was very fortunate, that people I claimed to hate, people like a Jewish boss, a Lesbian supervisor, black and Latino co-workers, treated me with kindness when I least deserved it. Even as I denied their humanity, my connection to them, they were determined to provide me with an example of how human beings should treat each other. It was because of their bravery and their forgiveness, and their compassion that I was able to change the course of my life. That’s something I’m grateful for every day. And It’s really a central part of the message that I hope to get across is that it is never too late for anybody to turn their life around and that we have so much to learn from each other as well as a lot to teach. ”


  2. Richard Mohr says:

    Per http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/5331

    In a 1970 memo, presidential counselor Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote, “There has been more change in the structure of American public school education in the last month than in the past 100 years.” And, like going to China, only Nixon could have done it.

    In the Brown celebrations, virtually no mentions of the former president were made. Nixon’s civil rights triumphs have been flushed down the memory hole. Moynihan summed it up in a December 1970 speech, transcribed by Price:

    Since [Nixon assumed office]...the great symbol of racial subjugation, the dual school system of the South, virtually intact two years ago, has quietly and finally been dismantled. All in all, a record of good fortune and much genuine achievement. And yet how little the administration seems to be credited with what it has achieved. 

    Nixon believed that change could be made quicker if it was handled at the local level. He was far from perfect but he needs to be covered fairly.

  3. I had just turned 21 when I cast my first vote in a Presidential election and it was for Nixon’s second term. At that time, true to my regional and family heritage, it seemed like the right thing to do. Am grateful for the good things he did do, like what you mentioned, opening up China, establishing the EPA. Too bad he did not get around to health care.

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