Most 21st-century white evangelicals oppose child-trafficking and rape. That’s new.

Most 21st-century white evangelicals oppose child-trafficking and rape. That’s new. September 6, 2020

Yes, it is possible to condemn and oppose the sexual trafficking of children without it being a self-aggrandizing reprise of the early 20th-century White Slavery Panic. Here’s an example of someone doing that without going all Anti-Kitten-Burning Coalition:

QAnon describes a deep state cabal of pedophiles. There are many of us, including evangelicals, who are strongly opposed to problems of child trafficking and pedophiles. Yet, one can oppose evil within the world without subscribing to the conspiracy theories like QAnon.

That’s from Ed Stetzer’s recent USA Today op-ed, “Evangelicals need to address the QAnoners in our midst.” There are some troubling and odd aspects of that op-ed, but the gist of it is that white evangelicals should be opposed to QAnon, not supportive of it, and that’s a Good Thing.

What I want to commend in the excerpt above is the way Stetzer refuses to claim that his own tribe’s opposition to “child trafficking and pedophiles” makes him/them exceptional or special. He acknowledges — because it’s true — that evangelicals are far from alone in such opposition. And he doesn’t conjure any fantasy about some imaginary mass of widespread pro-child-trafficking and pedophilia sympathy.

There used to be massive, nation-defining support for those things here in America, but very, very few people today would attempt to defend them.

What is particularly noteworthy here is that Stetzer is correct when he notes that most white evangelicals do, in fact, oppose selling children to be raped. That may seem like another extravagantly bare-minimum moral stance — something akin to opposition to burning kittens. But remember that this wasn’t always true.

For most of its history, white evangelicalism in America was not opposed to selling children to rapists. George Whitefield was neck-deep in child-trafficking and rape. Jonathan Edwards participated in and advocated for it. The Southern Baptist Convention was created, explicitly, in defense of the proposition that Christians had the right to participate in child-trafficking and rape.

The defining hermeneutic of white evangelicalism — the meaning of “Bible-based” — was a proof-texting system of concordance-ism developed and designed and refined explicitly for the purpose of defending child-trafficking and rape on an industrial scale.

White evangelicals are still fiercely committed to that hermeneutic of concordance-ism, but they no longer endorse the evils it was originally created to defend, such as selling children to be raped or, as such human trafficking was called back then, slavery.

It is, unreservedly, a Good Thing that a religious tradition formed and shaped by its centuries-long advocacy of child trafficking and rape has, over the past 150 years or so, become transformed into a religious tradition whose members, today, are almost unanimously opposed to those same things. Something that once was heralded as proof of divine favor is now regarded, correctly, as something horrific and repugnant and blasphemously evil.

That’s a massive change and a change for the good. Bravo.

“Evangelicals … are strongly opposed to problems of child trafficking and pedophiles.” That’s good. That’s also new.

 

 

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