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.


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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’

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  • So what is a White American? Does it have any actual relationship to epidermal melanin?

    No. And it never has. While people with “too much” epidermal melanin may be always excluded from the group, to be included, you have to be rich enough and evince the correct ideas and family structure. If you’re a woman, you also have to wear enough makeup (of the correct sort), do your hair a certain way, wear quite high heels (but not “too” high), have the correct sexual history (not involving any non-white partners, though you can have had sex before marriage if it was within a certain type of relationship, particularly if you say you regret it), and be the correct body type — neither too tall nor too fat. 

    Some of the lightest-skinned people in the world have traditionally been excluded from whiteness. Their admittance to the group is still on sufferance, and anyone can be excluded at any time. 

  • Albanaeon

    “Does anybody else feel like we were voting for the Huxtables over the Cleavers?”

    Only if you are referring to the knives…

  • 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?

    Fixed that for ya.

  • Beroli

     As Marc suggested, I’m reasonably certain Rowling meant “blood traitor” as a callback to the Nazi term “race traitor.”

  • P J Evans

    Here, have a decent map of the election results. It’s big enough to appreciate.

  • Lori


    I didn’t know vietnam vets could be hippies.  

    Quite a few vets became DFHs when they came home from Viet Nam. When the establishment has thoroughly f’ed up your life in a horrible, pointless, loser of a war the other guys can look pretty dang good.

  • Sindragosa

    It’s telling that showing less racism is being advocated as a politically expedient thing to do, as opposed to being less racist because it’s the right thing to do.

    Fits right in with my view on christians however. 

  • kisekileia

    Of course Christianity isn’t just about opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. It’s anti-porn and anti-straight-non-marital-sex, too! [/facetious]

  • AnonymousSam

    Hey, uh, Sindragosa? Here’s a fun little exercise for you to try sometime: Try replacing the word “Christians” with the phrase “black people;” see how well the constant rhetoric of blanket group demonization syncs up. You might learn a something about yourself.

  • Er, “DFH”? *is not clued in on some of the terminology*

  • Lori

    Dirty F’ing Hippie

  •  So he clearly understands why they wouldn’t vote for Romney, but to his reasoning, that means that they shouldn’t vote at all!  Interesting, that.

    That seems to be the going theme in the post-election analyses: Republicans expected that there’d be a lot of Democrats who weren’t as happy with Obama as they were 4 years ago, so they’d just stay home.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Lots and lots of us (Democrats, third party members, and unaffiliated voters) are less happy with 2012 Obama than with 2008 Obama.

    Thing is, all the things Obama’s done to piss us off? Romney wouldn’t stop doing them. Or he’d do them more. And meanwhile Romney would be fucking us all six ways to Sunday on matters that Obama’s doing well on. No thank you.

  • I am pleased to know that my county (right there in the middle of western Washington state in the upper-left) is pretty darkly blue. And I assure you, there are plenty of white people here (plenty of non-white people here too, but you get the idea.)

  • Ah.

  • Mary Kaye

    My gosh, that map raises more questions than it answers, at least for me.  What is the blue strip horizontally across the South?  What is the blue blob west of the Great Lakes?  I know small blue blobs are urban centers but both of those are *huge*.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The blue strip is where the coastline was in…dinosaur era? I don’t recall offhand, but something about the ex-coastline made the soil really good for cotton. Cotton -> slaves. Slaves -> black voters. Dunno about up by the Great Lakes, though.

  • Jenny Islander

    Some of these factors fluctuate.  I’ve noticed that in Alaska, fat women are admitted to whiteness more often than they are in, say, L.A.  Also the acceptable religiosity for whiteness varies by region.

    The level below whiteness, for white people, is generally (but not always) “white trash.”

  • The blue up by the G.L. is probably Obama’s famed “union firewall”. You’re looking at what would be serious rust belt territory if it hadn’t been for the auto sector bailouts.

  • Anton_Mates

    I don’t know the statistics on that, but even if a majority of black evangelicals would vote against gay marriage given a choice, I doubt very much that it is the issue they identify with most, as a citizen or a Christian.

    Dunno about black evangelicals in particular, but as of 2007, Pew found black Protestants in general to fall about midway between white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants on abortion and gay rights.  More recent polls have found a rapid increase in support for SSM among African-Americans over the last couple of years, and currently they seem to be split 50/50 or so–and an exit poll from this election found a significant majority of black voters supporting SSM.

    As for the importance of the issue, this guy says it doesn’t even come up when he’s polling African Americans about their political priorities.  Unemployment and the state of the economy are wayyy more important.

    So, yeah, this guy has no clue about the opinions of the people he’s lecturing.

  • reynard61

    “In an open letter to black evangelicals, Michael Brown candidly asks whether they compromised their beliefs by voting for the re-election of President Barack Obama.


    “‘I simply do not understand how my black evangelical friends who so staunchly oppose same-sex marriage and who stand against abortion could cast their vote for the most radically pro-abortion, pro-gay-activist president in our history,’ he said as a fellow evangelical.”

    Well, maybe it’s not *all* about the abortion thing or the gay thing anymore. Maybe it’s about the Economy thing — y’know; Jobs, putting food on the table, paying the heating and electricity bills, being able to pay the Doctor bills, being able to pay for school for the kids (especially if they can’t get in on scholarships), etc., etc.

    God supposedly helps those who help themselves, and maybe your black evangelical “brothers” (and sisters — women can vote too now!) decided that since white evangelical Republicans weren’t exactly rushing to help them (or even paying lip service to doing so) they decided that they might just have better luck with the black man in the White House who has actually put forward *plans* to help them economically. (Even as the mostly white guys* who run the House have obstructed his every effort to help them since his first inauguration.)

    So I ask you, Pastor Brown; *why* the hell are you so surprised that your black evangelical “friends” voted for a “radically pro-abortion, pro-gay-activist president”?

    *Yes, Allen West is black and Michele Bachmann is a woman — and they’re both batshit insane, so no help there…

  • Arresi

    And I think Madison, WI is in the upper right corner of that patch.

  • MJB

    This Michael J. Brown has to say that he finds the comments by Michael L. Brown to be absolutely repugnant.

  • That area by the Great Lakes is Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.  There are not a whole lot of factories of any sort out that way.  It’s mostly farmland.

    The rust belt is farther east, around Lakes Erie and Ontario.

    There are a couple of college towns in that area and also Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic.

  • Ipneorama

     Actually, I would like a response to this as well. As a straight-white-married-with-children-40something-male-professional who voted for Obama, I do need a shorter honorific.  Perhaps “citizen” will be sufficient.

  • Soblessed1017

    They are probably black republicans who are in denial.

  • ICN Ministries – Guidestar.org
    2010 IRS Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax

  • “…how could you vote for him again?”
    Because you are phuqtards.

  • AnonaMiss

    Some of it has to do with union strongholds along the Mississippi river;  but for the most part, it’s just the northern midwest tradition of progressivism (which non-natives tend to find surprising for some reason). There are a lot of notoriously left-leaning liberal arts schools and state universities throughout Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, for example: UW Madison, UIUC, Grinnell, Lawrence University, and a lot of less well-known ones. 
    Also, historically these states were major supporters of abolition and prohibition – I suppose you could call it the Second Great Awakening Belt.

  • Hilary – if anyone answers your question, will you please share that answer with me? I too am not a RWV, and would like to know how to properly refer to myself in future discussions. I am a 50 yo of female persuasion whose heritage is Irish, English, Scottish, Germanic, and maybe some native American (nobody in the family wants to answer THAT question yet) and I voted for Obama. Again. And I live in a small blue dot in a really red state called Alabama.

  • J_

    Went through the link to Christian Post . . .

    *Immediately* SpyBot and Symantec started going wild:

    “001 Dragon Toolkit attack detected”
    “002 Dragon Toolkit attack detected”
    “003 Dragon Toolkit attack detected”
    “004 Dragon Toolkit attack detected”

    Christian Post’s website is trying to do to my computer what Christians try to do to my mind.

  • CMinus:  Please see my reply to Hilary above. You are allowed to change your answer. Once.  I already use the term Woman to refer to myself, but please note that I live in the South. I don’t want to be lumped with all those *other* people. You know, The RWV’s , simply because of my geographical location and the melanin content of my outer dermal layer.   Taking from another comment about I could add the qualifier “sane”, but my therapist might have a problem with that.  Oh, here’s another thing. I am married to a legal alien. He’s from Canada. Does that make a difference?  And he’s 10 years younger than me, and a social-worker to boot!  Oh, I am digging it deep, now…

  • banancat

    I am not sane because I have a mental illness, but I am white and liberal and I voted for Obama. So you can use sane as your level, but you are excluding me even if you didn’t intend to. Further, unexamined privilege and bigotry are not the same as insanity. Must Republicans are quite sane; they just choose to be selfish assholes.

  • abombt1

    Micheal Brown’s book “A queer thing happened to America” suggests that gay Christians masturbate to fantasies of penetrating a naked Jesus on the cross.

    The guy is pyscho.

  • I got called a traitor to my race while canvassing for Obama in Ohio in ’08.  Somehow I survived….

  • Carolyn

     no…maybe the huxtables over Archie Bunker?  Although Leave it to Beaver never really investigated prejudice, Ward didn’t seem like the type of guy who would be racist…who knows?

  • histrogeek

    I actually have a mental illness as well. After many years of dealing with it, I really don’t even think of sane or insane as clinical terms at all. Sorry about that.
    So maybe “not-an-asshole” is the best identifier.

  • Hawker40

    histrogeek: “I prefer “sane” as a self-identifier. “Not-an-asshole” is also a popular label.”

    I won’t claim sanity, or even ‘not-an-asshole’.  I will say that I try very hard not to be a jerk, and (misquoting Kipling) “Hawker ain’t no bloody fool, you bet that Hawker sees.”


    Well, maybe it’s not *all* about the abortion thing or the gay
    thing anymore. Maybe it’s about the Economy thing — y’know; Jobs,
    putting food on the table, paying the heating and electricity bills,
    being able to pay the Doctor bills, being able to pay for school for the
    kids (especially if they can’t get in on scholarships), etc., etc.

    Remember, the Received Wisdom is that NO ONE disagrees with the republicans that Obama is bad for the economy and Romney would have been good for it.

    Therefore, no one could have voted for Obama *because* of the economy, only *in spite of* it.

  • banancat

    It something about our culture that the idea of mental illness equating badness is so prevalent that we don’t even notice the words we use. I’m sensitive to it though because my dad used to use my mom’s depression as a way to emotionally abuse her.

    Anyway, the simple fact that you were able to consider my side of it without getting mad at me shows how you are different than many conservatives. So maybe our label should be empathetic or self-aware.

  • Well then they just have the good taste to vote Democratic then. :D

  • Damanoid

    ‘ … 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?’

    No, it’s not true.  You never spoke to any black pastor who said any such thing.

  • Rowen

    I didn’t realize that one can have a mental illness and not be considered sane. While I realize that there are times that the lines are blurred, having one does not negate having the other.

  • Carstonio

     Very true. “Self-reliance and fiscal responsibility” as a political slogan has almost never been about equality of opportunity, or leveling the playing field. Most often it’s been about people born on third base acting like they’ve hit a triple, first in economic terms, and later in racial and sexual terms as well.

  • veejayem

    Christ definitely wouldn’t have qualified.

  • Jesus

    Hi, this is Jesus,
    I really don’t care who wins just as long as who wins cares.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You’re gonna have to define your terms, buddy, because a lot of the people who won this go-round and a lot more of those who tried to win are absolutely certain that they’re following to the letter your instruction to love God above all and their neighbors as themselves. They’re just using a considerably narrower definition of ‘neighbor’ than the rest of us are, and loving a particularly vicious god.

  • Tricksterson

    Projection much?

  • Tricksterson

    Minorites rarely appeared on TV back then and when they did they were seriously stereotyped.  A mexican? kid appeared in one episode of Leave It To Beaver mostly so Eddie could be even more of a dick than usualm contrast to the sortanotquite liberal Cleavers but that was it IIRC.