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[321] Xianity & Racism II

Last time, we spoke of Robert P. Jones’ “White Christian America Needs a Moral Awakening” (The Atlantic, July 28, 2020) in which he shared some research findings from his Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on racism among religious groups. Using a Racism Index in a study of over 2,500 people, he found that white Christians scored roughly 30 points higher on the index than whites with no church affiliation, and 50 points higher than African-American Protestants.

Here are some of his conclusions.

White Christians, while believing they have “warm feelings” toward African-Americans, hold many racist attitudes that challenge that belief.

There is a positive correlation between church attendance and racist views.

The more racist views a person has, the more likely he or she self-identifies as a white Christian and vice-versa.

Jones has some advice for the Christian community. He urges us to face the reality that the “faith of our fathers” culturally reinforced white supremacy.  We need to stare that in the face, seeking justice rather than reconciliation.  Reconciliation–as in the case of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1995 apology for its pro-slavery, racist history—bring peace but not needed self-examination and genuine transformation.  For Jones, racism robs us of “right relationships with our fellow citizens, with ourselves, and even with God,” and that failing to address “this sinister disorder in our faith will continue to generate serious consequences” for not only others, but “ourselves and our children.” DC

[320] Xianity & Racism

Robert P. Jones, in “White Christian America Needs a Moral Awakening” (The Atlantic, July 28, 2020), points to the troubling racial past among white Christian churches, stating that they “have not just been complacent or complicit in failing to address racism; rather as the dominant cultural power in the US they have been responsible for constructing and sustaining a project to protect white supremacy.”

A rather potent charge.  But Jones, raised as a Southern Baptist, goes on to cite some research from his Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).  Here are some of the findings from a survey of more than 2,500 people.

White Christian groups consistently hold views that are at odds with black Protestants, while non-religious whites are more aligned with African-Americans. For example, approximately 75% of white Christian groups saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride. Only 41% of the unaffiliated and 16% of African-Americans agreed.

Two-thirds of white Christians viewed police killings of blacks as isolated incidents, while only 38% of white unaffiliated and 1% of black Protestants did.

These patterns persisted “in question after question on issues of racial justice,” says Jones. To pull things together, he developed a Racism Index based on 15 questions. Here are the standings: White Evangelicals 78, white Roman Catholics 72, White mainline Protestants 69, religiously unaffiliated 42, black Protestants 24.

Jones’ findings are not to be dismissed.  They arise from careful, unbiased, sociological research.  They are disturbing, but not surprising. The emphasis on individual faith and discipleship, so much a part of orthodox Christianity, can easily blind us to collective evils, especially when those evils are a part of one’s own tradition. Those collective evils, however, socialize (socially shape) generations of individuals to an ongoing blindness. We will look at a few more of Jones’ findings next time. DC

 

[320] Who?

There is a push coming from some Christian groups to bring back religion into the schools. Not as a devotional exercise but as an educational response to the religious illiteracy of secular society. These people think that a clearer understanding of the various faiths will reduce stereotypes, and increase respect and tolerance for all faiths, creating an atmosphere of civility in what can be a highly-charged atmosphere.

I have one question: Who will develop the curriculum for these classes?

Imagine having a well-intentioned secular Jew develop a world religions curriculum. There is no certainty that she will present an accurate description of the gospel.  And to be fair, what about the Christian teacher presenting the various forms of Judaism?

This whole enterprise is nonsense—rank naivete.

One of the biggest problems with secular understanding of Christianity is that the faith is reduced to little more than the teachings of a great moral leader named Jesus.  No claim is made as to his divinity.  Do we want more of this?  Christianity is about truth revealed in scripture. To leave its presentation in the hands of secular curriculum designers and teachers is to subvert the very truth that is the faith.  DC

 

[319] CRT

There is much debate, particularly among Christians, over Critical Race Theory. First, do realize that despite the current debates, CRT is not new. It originated in 1989. Furthermore, variations of CRT have existed for decades. CRT is an outgrowth of what used to be called institutional racism (now systemic racism).  

According to Tommy Curry, by way of the Encyclopedia Britannica (June 9, 2016) CRT holds “that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour.”

For many people, making race not biological and denouncing the US legal system has a rather radical ring to it. Recently, white Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Seminary Presidents condemned CRT as incompatible with the Christian faith. Much of their objection resided in CRT being rooted in atheistic Marxism.

There is some merit there, but this was not an intelligent decision.  It was a typical–and well-meaning–white decision. And certainly not one affirmed by their black brothers and sisters in Christ.

Look at the CRT definition. It states that the law is racist.  It certainly has been historically (slavery once being legal) and its application is clearly racist if you look at the prison population, unless you believe African-Americans are inherently more criminal than members of other races.  Yes, race is defined biologically, but that biology has social consequences for people of all races. I don’t know many whites who, given the choice, would rather be black in America.

The issue I have with the SBC presidents is that their reaction to CRT shows an ignorance, and therefore unintended insensitivity, to the historical pervasiveness of racism in the US, very common among many well-meaning white Americans. Indeed, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Marxism and other political elements do elevate the issue of race from simmer to boiling.  But we Christians need to get past the noise and look soberly at the matter of racism, particularly its history even among some Christian groups. For example, the SBC itself began in 1845 because of the belief that missionaries should be able to own slaves.  Not until 1995 did it apologize and repent of its pro-slavery stance.  Perhaps more important, we need to stop condemning concepts like CRT and denounce the still contemporary evidences of racism, injustice, and oppression.

There are over 70 verses in the Bible affirming God’s love for justice. Over 400 about his advocacy for the poor and oppressed.  Let’s open our bibles to those passages rather than engage in rhetoric that polarizes and divides even members of the kingdom of God.  DC 

[318] Cover

It is strange how certain words sneak into our lexicon and then get accepted as accurate depictions of reality. These words eventually code our brains with a false sense of what is really going on. Here is one for you: cover—as in journalism. “She covers the White House for this network.”  He covers Capitol Hill, or Hollywood, or the NFL.

These people, usually senior reporters (whatever that means) are given an elevated, almost omniscient status. In reality, they do not cover anything. They do not encompass or have claim to all relevant knowledge on whatever they “cover.”  They simply report on what they find.  Often these reports are cleverly embedded in a point of view. That is what they do and that is all they do.

So what is the point of this mini-rant? It is that terms like cover are dangerous. They are deliberately misleading, lending a sense of expertise, authority, credence—again, even omniscience–to the words (including slanted opinions) of these fallible people.

And that is not healthy in a society in which millions rely on too few voices to inform them of what is real, factual, and correct in their world.  Especially when many of those “purveyors of truth” have no respect for the one who is the source of all truth. DC

 

 

[317] Personal Not Private

One of the most powerful Satanic weapons is the notion that one’s religious beliefs should be personal and private. Well, they have it half right.  Our faith, whatever it may be, is indeed personal.

But it should never be private.

If our identity as believers is indeed the most important thing in our life—the very definition of who we are—why should it be private?

Are we private about our interests, our opinions?  Do we not talk about who our favorite restaurant, our family and friends?

Presumably, these are far less important than our faith, our personal relationship with Christ. So why should it be private?

It shouldn’t. If it is, we need to ask ourselves why.  We do know where Christ stands on the privacy issue. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 10-32-33). DC

[316] My Politics

Many of my blogs inject political commentary, so it seems appropriate to share my politics.

I am an independent. Though economics and other Roman numeral political elements are important, they are not of the highest priority to me.

I am, first of all, a Christian and that drives my political thinking. More particularly I am concerned about a political environment that—on one hand—makes the propagation of the gospel as unobstructed as possible—and on the other—reins in the demonic progression of Secular Progressivism.

In short, I favor groups and candidates that support policies which are aligned with conventional Judeo-Christian principles. Positions that support religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the affirmation of Judeo-Christian values are important to me.  Stances against religious persecution, attempts to drive God out of public discourse, and other obvious evils are equally important.

That a candidate is a Christian is of import, but not as important as the policies she espouses.  DC

[315] Sociology of Disorder III

I have been reviewing Mary Eberstadt’s article in the December edition of Firstthings.com, entitled “The Fury of the Fatherless,” in which she looked at the summer 2020 protestors who generated mass disorder in US cities.

Eberstadt uncovered two characteristics: fatherlessness and Fatherlessness (absence of religion).  From those two comes a detachment from country. More particularly, Millennials and Gen Zs are characterized as low in patriotism, having a distrust of traditional institutions.

Eberstadt sees this distrust as a logical progression from the first two. In short, weakened bonds in one sector leads to a weakening in another.  Eberstadt cites Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, by sociologist Paul Vitz, in which the author argues that anger at the absence or abuse of fathers results in an anger toward God.

In any case, fatherlessness and Fatherlessness breed alienation and isolation.  There are fewer attachments and a tendency toward unhealthy connections among those that are made. There are fewer people from which one “might learn essential skills such as negotiation, diligence, compromise, teamwork, delayed gratification, and self-control.” Eberstadt writes. “This much we do know. The streets of Portland–and Kenosha, and Baltimore, and Rochester, and all the other cities serving as proscenia for today’s mob explosions—are full of [people like these].”

Eberstadt sees this sociology of disorder as a growing US crisis. She quotes Catholic theologian Deborah Savage’s description of this population: “They have been left alone in a cosmos with nothing to guide them, not even a firm grasp of what constitutes their basic humanity, and no means of finding the way home.”  Furthermore, Eberstadt sees this group as resentful and envious of those “born to an ordered paternity, those with secure attachments to family and faith and country.”  Hence the movement of disorder to suburbs.

With growing gun sales and a divisive election, Eberstadt sees the US at a watershed, one much larger than Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, or Mitch McConnell. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edmund, the disaffected brother of Edgar calls upon the gods for resolution. We need to do a lot of God calling over this country. DC

 

[314] Sociology of Disorder II

Recently I used this space to review Mary Eberstadt’s fascinating December 2020 article in Firstthings.com, entitled “The Fury of the Fatherless,” in which she looked at the profile of the summer 2020 protestors who generated mass disorder in US cities. One common characteristic was fatherlessness.

A second is the erosion of major social institutions, particularly religion. In short, Fatherlessness added to fatherlessness. In 2019, 44% of respondents between 18 and 29 termed themselves “Nones” as far as religion goes.  “None of the above” is now the fastest-growing religious group in the US.

Not surprisingly, there is a link between fatherlessness and Fatherlessness. A study of white nationalists found that the bulk of them were divorced and in opposition to Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, BLM, from its Marxist perspective, is in opposition to Christianity.

These two characteristics lead to a third, which I will discuss next. DC

[313] Sociology of Disorder

Mary Eberstadt recently wrote a scintillating article in December’s Firstthings.com, entitled “The Fury of the Fatherless.” Eberstadt took a hard, empirical look at who exactly are the summer 2020 protestors that fomented mass disorder in US cities. Her research findings were startling, uncovering three characteristics.

First, the protestors are overwhelmingly fatherless.  “Six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness,” writes Eberstadt. And fatherlessness is increasing. Twenty-five percent of US children now grow up without a father in the home, 65% of African-American children. Moreover, the vast majority of imprisoned juveniles are from fatherless homes.

Murder in cities is a gang problem, with the gang problem being a fatherless problem. The Minnesota Psychological Association stated that gang leaders fill a father role for aimless youth. The BLM movement has waged an attack on fathers, stating that they want to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement…”  In short, identity politics are characterized by an absence of fathers.

Moving closer to the 2020 disorders, the authors of White Fragility, So You Want to Talk About Race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and The Anti-Racist, How to Start the Conversation About Race and Take Action, all have one thing in common. They were raised without fathers.

It is the same with disrupters from the alt or far right. An article on neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin stated that like other emotionally damaged young males, Anglin looked for a purpose on the Internet, “something ferocious to cover up the frailty he couldn’t abide in himself.”

Let’s go to Portland. The city has a 30-year history as a haven for the disaffected. One researcher summarized the population as a damaged collection of youth that cannot connect with parents.  Hence, street families, street moms and dads, and other similar nuclear-family substitutes become opinion-shapers.

In sum, the riots are simply public expressions of dysfunction, with a common root being fatherlessness.  DC

 

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