White evangelicals, Republicans and wanting to ‘take our country back’

Linda Harvey of the “Christian radio” program Mission America chimes in with her own version of Michael L. Brown’s awful “why have black people betrayed Christianity?” riff following the 2012 election. Harvey says:

Ninety-three percent of African Americans voted for Obama in this election. Where are the Christians? Where are those who choose candidates based on the content of his or her character?

“Some people,” white evangelical radio host Linda Harvey says, “are swayed by race.”

Harvey can’t imagine any reason that black Christians would vote for President Barack Obama other than because he’s black. (I suppose that’s also why Obama won over three-fourths of Asian-American voters and a large majority of women voters — because Obama is an Asian-American woman.)

Harvey goes on to claim, falsely, that Obama’s re-election means “that people of faith should be forced to pay for other people’s abortion-causing drugs … drugs that kill unborn babies.”

And then she speculates sadly on the cause of this tragedy, in which most African Americans have chosen to be Satanic baby-killers rather than real, true Christians:

Some people are swayed by race, giving him the benefit of the doubt; some find it impossible to accept the jaw-dropping reality about his actions though. He has insulted our Lord, our values and our faith in ways too numerous to mention. But folks decide which camp they want to be in: the cool camp, the one with the hip president who likes big government programs and nods at sexual sin, even if great harm comes to children as a result. No, for some people, first they choose their camp and then they try to figure out ways to justify it.

There’s just something about Obama that, for Harvey, is an insult to “our Lord, our values and our faith.” Whatever could that certain, ineffable something be? And what do you mean “our,” Kemosabe?

Whenever white evangelicals like Harvey speak of “our Lord, our values and our faith” or of “our country,” it’s always done in a way that excludes — to use Harvey’s phrase there — “some people.”

Just like Michael L. Brown and most of the other white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism, Linda Harvey would insist that she favors diversity, in principle, and that she would be very pleased to see “our” church become more inclusive. In theory, people like Brown and Harvey can nod along with Alvin Sanders as he outlines his “Mission Lessons From Election Night“:

For 20 years I have beat the drum telling evangelicals that they need to get their institutional house in order because diversity is coming. That line no longer is accurate. Ladies and gentlemen, diversity is here.

And as demonstrated [Election] night, the organizations that figure out how to express their values, attitudes, and beliefs in a diverse manner will be the ones that come out on top. The ones that don’t will slowly and steadily lose their impact.

Here are the facts. Our country is browner, is more female, and is well on its way to becoming an ethnic minority/majority country. If we can’t figure out how to speak to this reality evangelical institutions will be completely marginalized.

The white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism can murmur approvingly when conservative columnist Anthony Bradley writes:

And here’s a valuable lesson for conservative evangelicals from last Tuesday’s election results: If your church, college, seminary, denominational annual meeting, etc., looks like Romney’s concession speech audience, you likely will be unable to transform, influence, or engage America. To do so, you’ll need to start including minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders who will help chart institutional direction.

Michael Brown and Linda Harvey and other white evangelicals are fine with that. And they’d be perfectly comfortable tapping “minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders” just as long as those folks share all the exact same opinions, perspectives and priorities as those of the white evangelical establishment. They’re all for diversity, but only in the sense that they like the optics of a diverse-looking crowd all pledging unquestioning allegiance to the pure white evangelical agenda in lockstep conformity.

Matt Taibbi was writing about politics, not about the church, when he wrote the following. But I think Taibbi’s comments here on the Republican Party as a whole apply just as much to that party’s subgroup of the white evangelical church. Symbolic attempts at “outreach” to women, Latinos, African Americans, etc., won’t work, Taibbi says, because the real problem isn’t symbolic, it’s the resentful, indignant, self-righteous heart and soul of the Republican/white evangelical ideology:

But modern Republicans will never be able to spread that message effectively, because they have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they’re surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab. Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average “illegal,” as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can’t win votes when you’re calling people lazy, stoned moochers.

You can’t win votes by insulting potential voters. And you can’t win over everybody else when you’re convinced you’re better than everybody else — because they’re all a bunch of evil, depraved, Satanic baby-killers.

Anthea Butler gets at the heart of white evangelicals’ “take our country back” rhetoric and the assumptions underlying it:

After four years of hearing the refrain “Let’s take our country back,” it is clear that 2012 is not only, as Sarah Posner writes, a religious realignment, but also a moral realignment.

Fake God talk doesn’t cut it with Americans. Everyone sees through it. For Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and a host of others, the last four years have been a confidence game, a careful calculation that if they could just promote themselves, their god, their America, and Obama as a socialist just enough, the tide would turn their way and the money would flow. It didn’t. Many Americans want gay people to have the right to marry, recognize that rape is rape, and view women’s reproductive rights as important.

Americans are tired of racist remarks and the denigration of the office of the President of the United States simply because an African American with a dual heritage and a white mother cracked and decoded the American dream.

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