White evangelicals: Three critiques and a clueless open letter

I’m about to share three harsh, but truthful, criticisms from three different people. Each is directed toward a slightly different audience, but each says essentially the same thing.

Kevin Drum is addressing Republicans; Chris Hayes is addressing Republicans as influenced by white Christianity; and William D. Lindsey is addressing white Christians.

But before we turn to those posts, I first want to share this astonishing “open letter,” written by white evangelical Michael L. Brown and published on The Christian Post under the headline: “White Evangelical Asks Black Evangelicals Why They Re-elected Obama.”

Brown is the president/founder/pope/CEO of something called ICN Ministries (which stands for Israel, the Church and the Nations). He’s the author of many books including The Real Kosher Jesus, A Queer Thing Happened to America, and Revolution: The Call to Holy War.

Brown seems to regard his “open letter” as a generous gesture — offering black Christians the opportunity to confess their sin and to beg forgiveness for having voted for Barack Obama.

Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?

Michael L. Brown wants black Christians to know that God is merciful, and if they repent, God will forgive them for voting for a black president.

… Was there no moral compromise involved in voting for him? Are there no issues that could disqualify him in your eyes? And must Barack Obama be elected and then reelected in order to make up for past injustices, as one black evangelical woman claimed?

… One black pastor explained to me that he is convinced that “many African American believers compromised God’s Word during the election in the name of Obama Care and social program such as foods stamps etc.” Is there any truth to this?

… In 2008, I warned my listeners that Mr. Obama, if elected, would support the goals of gay activism, including redefining marriage, but many listeners did not believe me. Now that President Obama has actually abused the teaching and example of Jesus to advocate same-sex marriage, how could you vote for him again?

OK. So that happened. And now, having read that, you don’t have to wonder if Drum, Hayes and Lindsey are overstating anything in the posts below.

Kevin Drum is specifically speaking of Republicans, but I think everything he says here is something that a particular sub-set of Republicans — white evangelicals — should particularly heed:

Lightening up on immigration won’t be enough. Like it or not, conservatives are going to need a much more thorough housecleaning if they want to survive in an increasingly diverse future. No more gratuitous ethnic mockery. No more pretense that reverse racism is the real racism. No more suggestions that minorities just want a handout. No more screeching about the incipient threat of Sharia law. No more saturation coverage of the pathetic New Black Panthers. No more complaining that blacks get to use the N word but whites don’t. No more summers of hate on Fox News. No more tolerance for Dinesh D’Souza and his “roots of Obama’s rage” schtick; or for Glenn Beck saying Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people”; or for Rush Limbaugh claiming that “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.” No more jeering at the mere concept of “diversity.” And no more too-clever-by-half attempts to say all this stuff without really saying it, and then pretending to be shocked when you’re called on it. Pretending might make you feel virtuous, but it doesn’t fool anyone and it won’t win you any new supporters.

That’s just a start. One way or another, the Republican Party simply has to stamp this out. And not just because they need to do it to survive, but because it’s the right thing to do. That still counts, doesn’t it?

Chris Hayes says “Conservatives Are Creating Their Own Electoral Enemies,” and he traces that problem to the “anxieties and fears of white Christians”:

The beating heart of modern conservatism is its visceral appeal to anxieties and fears of white Christians. This is a different statement than saying the beating heart of modern conservatism is white racism or white supremacy. It’s not, or not principally. It is simply white “identity” politics, with all of the pathos and ugliness that implies. And if you don’t believe that, go read some conservative comment threads, or click over to the Drudge Report or Fox News, two outlets with a preternatural sense of the deepest anxieties of the modern conservative base.

Look at the ceaseless coverage of the New Black panthers, and voter fraud and immigrants living high on the hog off government welfare, and the absolute frenzy the right whipped up over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.

Once you understand this then you can see that the Republican party’s problems are deeper than, say, Republican opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, or even the far less controversial DREAM Act. That policy opposition is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The deeper issue is that for conservative politicians and networks and websites there is simply too much to be gained by feeding the sense of persecution and siege that many white Christians feel down to their toes. I’m not sure what is going to shift those incentives, because that insecurity, as an emotional fact is real and isn’t going away.

And finally, here is William D. Lindsey on “Race Matters and 2012 Elections.” He’s specifically addressing white Christians, but everything he says also applies, I think, to the rest of the party to which those white Christians have pledged allegiance:

Since the cousin most fervently sharing these messages hasn’t darkened the door of any church in years and cares little at all for religion (or the Bible whose pictures she plastered across her Facebook page in the lead-up to the elections), I have to assume that there’s some other explanatory factor for her new-found zeal for Jesus and crucifixes and Bibles and patriotic schoolchildren and God-serving soldiers.

And I know full well what that explanatory factor is. It’s race.  … She has responded to the demographic changes in her county with fury about the loss of control of “her” county. “Her” county voted, in fact, for Obama in this election, as did the county in which I live and as did all the counties along the Mississippi River in the Arkansas Delta — counties with a large majority of African Americans. The rest of the state went solidly red.

It went solidly red this election cycle, and, with lavish infusions of Koch brothers money, swept into office everywhere in the state an astonishing assortment of tea party knaves, fools, and bible-pounding con men, for one reason and one reason alone: race. All this was in direct relation to — in direct reaction to — the election of the nation’s first African American president in 2008 and his impending re-election in 2012.

This in a state with churches on every corner in every nook and cranny of the state. A story replicated all across the American South.

 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Also, even programs which were deliberately trying to be sympathetic to minorities tended to be so patronizing that to a modern audience, they come off as even more racist than the programs which just flat out ignored the existence of non-white folks.

    (It’s been a bit of a recurring theme for me re-watchign TV shows from my childhood, to discover that thingswhich were considered progressive in their day tend to come off even worse than things that weren’t, by virtue of the fact that they keep calling attention to themselves)

  • Hilary

    “Assuming you’re not being facetious, that someone has to go to a Harry Potter reference to define that particular phrase really gives me hope.”

    I wasn’t being facetious, I honestly had to think about it.  But considering that I am a liberal Jew, raised with liberal Catholic grandparents (my mom converted) my father was a kindergarten teacher in inner city schools while I grew up, and I fell in love with a woman from a liberal Protestant background (UCC) who converted to Judaism, and I live in the Twin Cities, MN, a very liberal metro area, me having to think about being a race traitor is like a fish having to think about being in water. Oh, and I went to public schools and I take the bus to work sometimes, even worse perhaps.

    Hilary 

  • PollyAmory

    J’Accuse you of being racist for not voting for my candidate who I largely voted for because of his race, in other words. 

  • PollyAmory

    Well, obviously. He can’t be racist. He has black friends.

  • PollyAmory

    That depends who is doing the naming. If it is Brown doing the naming, “race traitor” probably.

    Although I’m not in a position to speak, not being gay, but being both Jewish and an Obama voter. 

  • PollyAmory

    When your life is pretty much set, you have the luxury of worrying about where other people stick their sexy bits. When a full one tenth of your community is mowed under by the prison-industrial complex, you have other priorities. 

  • PollyAmory

    So…anyone who didn’t write in “Jesus” is faulted, in his eyes?

  • PollyAmory

    This reminds me of a comment thread I got into at Gawker. One commenter couldn’t understand what was wrong with the justification given by Romney for his loss during his conference calls with the donors.

    And I explained that he — and the rest of that lot — is attempting to construct a narrative in which everyone who voted for Romney did so for some nebulous “right” reasons, while the Democratic voters were just out for what they could get.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s funny how fulsome the praise is for democracy among Republicans – unless you vote for Democrats, in which case it means you’re obviously some moocher. (>_<)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039672277 Christopher Heyn

    I’ve had a few direct online interactions with Michael Brown, and I have friends who have interacted with him personally.  He’s a bully, plain and simple.  (Just look at his ministerial history and how many times he’s had to move on to new pastures.)

    He’s always claiming to want “dialogue” with the GLBT community, but his idea of dialogue is getting you to agree with him.  As long as he can sucker some well-meaning GLBT people into sitting down with him over dinner thinking he’s genuine, he’ll use that as an example of how “inclusive” he is.  But when asked direct questions, he folds like a cheap tent.

    Back when he first started his “Love Has a Better Way” campaign in Charlotte, I asked him a simple question on his Facebook page:  “Is it demonstrating the love of Jesus to take away a gay person’s health insurance?”  He talked around the question but would never answer it.

    That told me all I needed to know about him.  

  • Dorthealynn

    I will tell you exactly why I, a Spirit-filled Christian, and seminary-trained minister voted for Barak Obama.  The final authority for all Christian values and conduct is not white evangelical Christians, it is the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.  He has stated that the final basis for judgement is not being a Republican and believing oneself to be superior to others, as so many of you have demonstrated that you do.  Rather, whether or not we are a sheep or a goat, and ushered into the presence of God, or not, is based upon how we treated those who deemed to be the “least.”  According to Jesus, what we do for the least, we do for Him.

    The President and the Democratic party leadership are not pastors, responsible for shepherding our souls.  Those of us who are believers have pastors.  What the Democratic party has consistently done in my lifetime is speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, which the Word of God commands us to do.  However, the Word also commands us as Christians to become all things to all people, that we may win all.  No one is being won by the words or witness, i.e. the ungodly conduct, of so many members of the Republican party.

    Many Republican Party members have somehow convinced themselves that they are the keepers of morality in this nation.  Yet, I have never seen such a demonstration of hatred, vitriol, racism, lying, mean-spirited behavior, willingness to deny basic rights to others, etc.  There is nothing godly about standing up for privileges for the few, while the many suffer.   There is nothing godly about attacking the President becuase of words spoken by his pastor, but failing to address many of the teachings of the church attended by his opponent, which do not line up with basic principles of Scripture.  There is nothing godly about being a Bishop in a church that teaches that black people are cursed of God.

    I have seen more graciousness of spirit in the President that I have seen in many white, Evangelical Christians and I believe that God has used his election to surface the evil that is in so many of your hearts.  I will continue to pray that this President will have the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might.  I firmly suggest that many of our white Evangelical Christians stop judging other people and questioning our motives and re-read the Bible. 

    As a seminary trained minister, I understand that John Calvin taught that we are able to identify God’s elect because they are blessed and prosperous.  However, I again point to the ministry of Jesus, the Son of God, as the final authority.  His life and ministry indicate that there is a special place in the heart of God for the poor, the needy and those who recognized that they have not lived up to the standards of God, and who ask for mercy.  Those who stand before God and proclaim their own righteousness are not justified.

    To my white Evangelical friends I say, take the log out of your own eyes and then you will see to take the specks out of the eyes of others.

  • Nelson Rudolph

    Well , 1 thing everybody is missing while calling him ‘white’ is that he isn’t european in ethnicity; he is Jewish. He’s doing other people’s dirty work for them. I know one of hi students who is also with Jews for Jesus. His student believes the letter was improper because it should be a black evangelical who if anyone should have written it. Again, he never mentions being Jewish in the letter. Jews and blacks have been very close on civil rights. He was being a Herman Cain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pointblank009 Chris Stevenson

    Drum beat on all the right’s slick nuances very clearly: “No more gratuitous ethnic mockery. No more pretense that reverse racism is the real racism. No more suggestions that minorities just want a handout. No more screeching about the incipient threat of Sharia law. No more saturation coverage of the pathetic New Black Panthers. No more complaining that blacks get to use the N word but whites don’t. No more summers of hate on Fox News. No more tolerance for Dinesh D’Souza and his “roots of Obama’s rage” schtick; or for Glenn Beck saying Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people”; or for Rush Limbaugh claiming that “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.” No more jeering at the mere concept of “diversity.” And no more too-clever-by-half attempts to say all this stuff without really saying it, and then pretending to be shocked when you’re called on it. Pretending might make you feel virtuous, but it doesn’t fool anyone and it won’t win you any new supporters.
    That’s just a start. One way or another, the Republican Party simply has to stamp this out. And not just because they need to do it to survive, but because it’s the right thing to do. That still counts, doesn’t it?” Slam Dunk!

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    First off, remember Obama is only partially black, so those who voted for him were, in truth, voting for a black/white man. How anyone can vote for someone who has taken us so far off the rails of financial wisdom and security is beyond me!

    Secondly, the poll where my mother has worked during numerous elections was host to quite a few blacks who had never before voted in their entire lives……until Obama was a candidate.    Upon their arrival at the poll, they asked my mother what party the black man was representing because they wanted to vote for him.  Sadly, many of them could not even sign their own name.

    Thirdly, many so-called Christian blacks voted for Obama.  How pathetic that their devotion to skin color outweighed their devotion to their Lord, Master and Saviour.  Oh, wait a minute, Jamie Foxx did refer to Obama as our Lord and Saviour, silly me.

    But, of course, no blacks are racist.  Only white Christians, particularly males, the least of the least in the eyes of the anti-Christs among us.  Of course, when whites aren’t willing to vote for a black man, it necessarily indicates racism.   

    Get real, phonies!

  • VMink

    Trolling the back-catalog of articles?  Fine, I’ll bite.

    What should the punishment be for a woman who gets an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Who is the one trolling here now, VM?  Have you made relevant comments to this particular essay?


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