‘Thou art the man’

‘Thou art the man’ January 15, 2021

• Maina Mwaura writes a scorching indictment of Sen. James Lankford, building on their shared commitment to the evangelical parachurch “Promise Keepers” group, “At the Capitol, evangelicals’ ‘Thou art the man’ moment.” (The allusion there is to 2 Samuel 12:7, for those who missed Sunday school that week.) It includes this bit:

As this week’s events played out, I couldn’t help but think of another pastor Lankford will soon serve alongside, the newly elected Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, he would never be invited to join the board of Promise Keepers because he doesn’t check off the two boxes required for acceptance in white evangelical circles: pro-life and pro-Trump. (Lankford, an unapologetic conservative, checks them without question.) …

… Conservative politicians know … that if they check off these two boxes, nothing else is required of them. They don’t have to justify their actions in terms of Christian standards of behavior. They don’t, it’s now apparent, need to worry about adherence to principle or commitment to the truth.

What Mwaura fails to note is that both of those check-boxes are sinful, hateful, evil, and wrong. They are both blasphemous sins against God and neighbor, prideful bearings of false witness against others.

The problem is not that conservative politicians can easily win unquestioning support from white evangelicals by checking both of those boxes. The problem is that both of those boxes are sins from which white evangelicals need to repent.

In any case, dunno what role the Promise Keepers folks may have played in this, but Sen. Lankford seems to be slowly grasping that his support for the disenfranchisement of millions of Black voters is, you know, both illegal and really racist:

U.S. Sen. James Lankford apologized to Black Tulsans on Thursday for not recognizing that his involvement in questioning presidential election results would offend them.

In a letter addressed to “My friends in North Tulsa,” Lankford acknowledges that his actions “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot.”

…His decision to raise issues about the presidential election in several key states — most of them with large African American populations — hurt and angered many Tulsans, however, with some leaders saying he should resign or be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.

Lankford still doesn’t quite get that his efforts to throw out millions of Black votes aren’t merely “offensive.” That’s a wholly inadequate word, the use of which is actually, well, offensive, in that it suggests the problem lies with them for being thin-skinned or touchy or some such. It’s also not possible to believe that Lankford didn’t realize all along that “urban” and “inner-city” and “Detroit” were all being used as euphemisms for “Black.”

Lankford lent his legal authority and the weight of his office to a Redemptionist campaign of white supremacy. His semi-apology for that is welcome, but it’s barely a first half-step in the repentance required.

• Remember those three actual cases of voter fraud here in Pennsylvania? Here’s an update on the one from my neck of the woods: “Chester County man facing trial for voter fraud says he was tricked into voting twice.”

This was “Returns in Sunglasses” Guy and, Spoiler alert: He was not “tricked” into voting twice. His lawyers tossed out some other potential defense strategies — claiming their client innocently believed he was allowed to vote in someone else’s name and that since he’s hard of hearing he didn’t hear the election workers telling him that wasn’t allowed. The judge has not seemed impressed by any of that.

I like Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s suggestion:

Fetterman said Thurman’s case showed how impractical the notion of massive voter fraud to sway the results of an election was.

“This case demonstrates how rare and impossibly difficult it is to successfully commit voter fraud,” Fetterman said in a telephone interview. “The fact that Mr. Thurman also happened to vote for the president also underscores that key point.’

The lieutenant governor said he did not believe that the 71-year-old Thurman deserved to go to jail if convicted even though the most serious charge against him — repeated voting — carries with it a possible maximum jail term of … seven years in state prison. The appropriate thing to do would be for Thurman to tape several public service announcements discussing how “dangerous and foolish it is to commit voter fraud.”

John Fetterman is still owed $3 million in Sheetz & Wawa gift cards. Pay up Dan Patrick.

• One of the benefits of the growing recognition of “[white] Christian [white] nationalism” is that it moves away from the misleading use of “conservative” as a euphemism for that. This has been a source of great confusion for years, conflating right-wing politics with theological orthodoxy, and then redefining “more theologically conservative” to mean “more belligerently committed to expanding the culture war.”

This leads to all sorts of weirdly confused notions — like the idea that somehow Paula White is more “theologically conservative” than N.T. Wright. Or that Al Mohler is more of a “theological conservative” than, say, Tim Keller due to Mohler’s more fervent devotion to white supremacy.

If you mean Republican partisan, say that. If you mean culture warrior, say that. And if you mean white Christian white nationalist, just say exactly that. “Conservative” is not a helpful synonym for any of those.

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