The Southern Baptist Convention recently passed a resolution condemning the alt-right, white nationalism, and white supremacy. Not surprisingly, evangelical pastor Doug Wilson has a problem with that.
Here is a thought experiment. Suppose someone introduced another resolution, next time around, identical in theology to this one, and identical in theological expression to this one, but with the only difference being that the specific groups denounced were the Nation of Islam or Black Lives Matter. The same sin is rejected, and for the same reason—because of the denial of what the blood of Jesus Christ was intended to do. God intended to make one new man out of the two. Right?
Does anyone believe that such a resolution would sail through? I am afraid that it would not. There would be an uproar because, while the theology was righteous, there would be legitimate suspicion that there was a surreptitious (political) agenda in the selectivity of the identified villains. And so there would be.
And this is why, when representatives of Jesus Christ are denouncing hateful bigotries, and they take it upon themselves to repudiate what star-bellied sneetches have done to the non-star-bellied sneetches, they must also take care to address any problems that have run the other way. This must all be done at the same time. Otherwise, the church is being played.
Yes, you read that right—Wilson equates the alt-right and white nationalism with the Nation of Islam and the Black Lives Matter movement. In his view, hatred of racial minorities (and the promotion of an all-white homeland) is the same thing as racial minorities protesting racially motivated police violence.
But it gets worse.
The SBC statement admirably denounces every form of racism in general, but specifically denounces only one kind of racism, the kind that has recently come bubbling to the surface in the alt-right movement. What this does is almost completely ignore where the alt-right movement is deriving its energy. So that pot is coming to a boil. What is the burner underneath that pot? How is it that they are attracting recruits? …
For a generation or so, our society has been busy at creating the preconditions for the rise of the alt-right. We have done this by abandoning the early promises of the civil rights movement (to judge on the basis of content of character only), and by instituting a hard regime of political correctness, hating whitey, affirmative action, not to mention vitriolic denunciations of those “racists” who believe that budgets should balance.
So let me say it again. The alt-right is the bastard child of obsequious political correctness on race. That is where this is coming from. That is the root. That is where the energy is coming from. …
Wilson’s ostensive support for the “early promises of the civil rights movement” is curious given that he wrote the following in a 1996 book (emphasis added):
Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. The credit for this must go to the predominance of Christianity. The gospel enabled men who were distinct in nearly every way, to live and work together, to be friends and often intimates. This happened to such an extent that moderns indoctrinated on “civil rights” propaganda would be thunderstruck to know the half of it.
The views Wilson stated in his 1996 book ought to preclude us ever taking seriously anything he says on race. Added to this is Wilson’s constant willingness to troll, stating things in the most provocative way possible and using terms he know will get people’s hackles up. But Wilson has a following, so address Wilson I will. Wilson’s suggestion that white supremacy is new, the product of affirmative action and racial hatred directed against white people (which is what, exactly?), is baffling. The reality si that white supremacy—racism against people of color—never went away.
There is much I could address here, but for the time being I want to turn to Wilson himself. There’s a fundamental dishonesty in Wilson’s writing. Steve Wilkins, the coauthor of Wilson’s 1996 book, excerpted above, was a founder of the League of the South, a white nationalist group. While Wilson has distanced himself somewhat from his 1996 book, he still calls himself a “paleo-confederate” and argues that the South was in the right, and that the North’s victory in the Civil War was a defeat of southern Christendom and a victory for northern secularism and materialism.
Let’s talk about Wilson’s friend Steve Wilkins, and the League of the South. This organization has been on my radar for a while. Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote several years ago (I also wrote about the group again last year, here):
The organization isn’t shy about its emphasis on the right cause of the South during the Civil War, the importance it places on maintaining the South as a Christian “Anglo-Celtic” society, or its contention that southern slavery was a time of gentleness racial harmony. A look at the books sold on their website illustrates the organization’s fixation on the Civil War, and while the group’s FAQs reject racism they also explicitly call for the preservation of a South based on an “Anglo-Celtic core population and culture” (“should this core be destroyed or displaced the South would be made over in an alien image—unfamiliar and inhospitable to our children and grandchildren”).
In 2013, the League’s president, Michael Hill, stated as follows:
Just so there’s no chance that you’ll confuse The League with the GOP or any other “conservative” group, here’s what we stand for: The survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people. And by “the Southern people,” we mean White Southerners who are not afraid to stand for the people of their race and region.
Later that same year Hill wrote the following, further outlining his ideas:
As I look at my precious children and grandchildren, I shudder to think what will happen to them and their descendants when they become the numerical political (and actual demographic) minority. Revenge—“getting even”—will be a commonplace occurrence as our Folk are attacked and robbed of life, liberty, and property with impunity….
We Southerners must embrace a new paradigm. We must think “outside the box” in which our enemies have placed us. We must have a new organizing principal: organic nationalism. It is the answer for the South if we are serious about the survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people. That means the rejection of the status quo of living in a multicultural empire that sucks our lifeblood.
For our self-preservation dare we cast aside voting and the idea of the “consent of the governed” for a monarchy or dictatorship? No. We must simply re-define along the lines of organic nationalism the political and social entity to which we belong—the Southern nation. In that entity, our interests and moral principles will hold sway, and we can determine who gets to be called “citizen” and who exercises the right to vote and to participate in other civic matters.
The League of the South was founded in 1994. It is not new. It is also not unknown to Wilson. Wilson wrote his 1996 book with Steve Wilkins during Wilkins’ involvement in the League of the South, and drew on the same themes as that organization—the argument that the antebellum South was the last great Christendom, that slavery was ethically practiced and a time of racial harmony, and that racial strife was created by abolitionist propaganda, and by its descendent, civil rights propaganda.
Look at this excerpt from Wilson and Wikins’ book:
By the time of the War, the intellectual leadership of the South was conservative, orthodox, and Christian. In contrast, the leadership of the North was radical and Unitarian. This is not to say there were no Christians in the North, or that no believers fought for the North. It is simply the recognition that the drums of war were being beaten by the abolitionists, who were in turn driven by a zealous hatred of the Word of God.
Remember how Wilson equated Black Lives Matter with the racism of the alt-right? Take a look at these stunningly similar sentences from his 1996 book:
Some Christians balk at having a sympathetic view of the South because they know that racism is evil. This following is a very important point to emphasize. Like abolitionism, all forms of race hatred or racial vainglory are forms of rebellion against God. Such things are to be vigorously opposed because the Word of God opposes them.
Yes, you read that right—Wilson equated antebellum abolitionism with racial hatred and called it a “rebellion against God.” It is perhaps not at all surprising, then, that Wilson calls the Black Lives Matter movement racist. What is surprising—and concerning—is that there are evangelicals who continue to treat him as an authority.
Wilson equated the Black Lives Matter movement with racism; in his 1996 book, he similarly equated antebellum abolitionism with racism. In Wilson’s view, the Black Lives Matter movement, like antebellum abolitionism, is made up of rabble-rousers. While ostensibly Wilson condemns the alt-right in his post, he also posits that this movement is new, despite his continued friendship with Steve Wilkins, who helped found the white nationalist League of the South in 1994 (around the same time he and Wilson co-wrote their monograph defending antebellum slavery).
All of this makes Wilson’s post condemning the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution against white supremacy a surreal read for anyone familiar with Wilson’s background. I wonder—do his readers and followers know he lobbed the same criticism at antebellum abolitionists as he does at the Black Lives Matter movement? His defenders would probably point out that Wilson repeatedly condemns racism on his blog. I understand that. I’m just not sure I trust his definition of the term.