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Why Racism Might Defeat American Evangelicalism: Part 2

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Comments (6)
  1. Dale says:

    I have to say that I am utterly bewildered by this article. Dr. Williams writes, “Certain American evangelicals conflate political identity with the Christian gospel. To them, to be a Christian is to be loyal to one political party over another.” Fair enough. I think the Moral Majority, on the right, and Rev. Jesse Jackson, on the left, would both be fair, historical representations of this error.

    But then we get off the tracks as Williams gives “evidence” of his premise. “The recent presidential election demonstrated this point in that a large number of those who identify as evangelical voted for the current president. They did so even though his personal beliefs and behavioral patterns are not always consistent with what many would identify as evangelical beliefs or attributes.”

    Two thoughts:
    1. There is simply no possible logical or necessary connection between the premise and the “proof”. Williams simply assumes, and implicitly asserts, that white evangelicals who voted for Trump did so because they “conflate political identity with the Christian gospel.” On what basis can he possibly make that charge?? Where is the evidence for this? Isn’t it possible that white evangelicals could truly love Jesus, be disgusted with Trump’s behavior, and still agree with his policies and disagree with Hillary’s? As Williams states it, there is no other possible explanation for a white evangelical supporting Trump than the error of “conflating political identity with the Christian gospel.” Is this what he truly thinks? As it is, Williams simply makes a bald-faced assertion, impugning his brothers and sisters of sin, and rests the charge on nothing but thin air.

    Secondly, Williams tries to bolster his case by wondering, “why this same group of evangelicals didn’t apply the same principle to voting for President Obama when he ran twice for the presidency?” Unless I’ve completely misread his intent, he seems to be wondering why white evangelics (who voted for Trump even though though his practice and beliefs are not evangelical) didn’t vote for Obama? The answer is so obvious I almost don’t dare say it…..Maybe it was because they disagreed with his policies?? Is that OK?

    This can’t be the way forward in this conversation. Just read the first few paragraphs again and ask yourself – couldn’t someone make the very same charges against black evangelics who voted, nearly en masse, for Obama when he was clearly intent on murdering the unborn and prosecuting Christian business owners who dared stand for their Biblical beliefs? But I don’t remember anyone making those charges then. If they did, they shouldn’t have. Why? Because politics and people are far more complicated than we often admit and therefore we need to be extremely careful, in the body of Christ, about judging our brothers and sisters who voted differently than we did. I wish Mr. Williams nothing but the best. But please, sir, we need to do better than this.

  2. Kara says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that the perception of evangelicalism as white and politically right-leaning will continue to alienate people both in and outside the church. For that reason, I am encouraged to hear your voice and others who speak up for a life following Jesus which is not constrained or defined by political ideologies. We need to hear multiple sides of how our faith can be lived out in the political arena, which is so influential in how our local and national communities actually function. I can’t wait to read about your hope!

  3. Mezzula5 says:

    I agree with this:
    .
    “Dr. Williams’ efforts to combat racism existing in the church are admirable, and I have no doubt that he genuinely seeks to apply his Christian faith…” (a RAANetwork.org Poster)

    Peace,
    Mezzula5

  4. DCal3000 says:

    I continue to be mystified that Reformed African American Network promotes ideologies that are inherently oppressive–especially of minorities. Dr. Williams, in asserting that “the term evangelical has now become equivalent with a predominately white and rightward-leaning political identity in certain evangelical spaces” goes on to write, “Even if one offers hard data to show this is not holistically the case in evangelicalism, there are those in some minority communities who at least perceive evangelicalism as a white, rightward-leaning political movement.” So hard data would make no difference one way or the other? This does not appear to be a mere observation but appears, rather, to be a prong in Dr. Williams’ argument. Dr. Williams seems to be suggesting that perceptions can stand on their own. Such an idea, which is antithetical to biblical teaching, is dangerous for the church and dangerous for whites and minorities alike. Racism in the past was increased by (often willful) misperceptions. Thus, by continuing to leave the door open for misperceptions, Dr. Williams only widens the wounds in American evangelicalism and does nothing to heal them. If hard data on any given issue would be insufficient to address “perceptions,” no healing is rationally possible. Even repentance of sins would fall short if the wronged party chose to continue perceiving a lack of repentance. In the end, by applying Dr. Williams’ analysis, we are merely left with different portions of the church nursing unanswerable perceptions about each other. Dr. Williams’ efforts to combat racism existing in the church are admirable, and I have no doubt that he genuinely seeks to apply his Christian faith. That’s why I think it’s important to sound warning of serious academic errors that will ultimately undermine Dr. Williams’ own efforts.

  5. Mezzula5 says:

    I am grateful to be blessed by Dr. Williams’ presentation of this highly detailed, well articulated article. And Dr. williams does a great job of promoting key points from the classic book “Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America” by Emerson and Smith. I am anxiously anticipating the third installment of this educational series.

    Peace,
    Mezzula5

  6. Patrick Anderson says:

    I really like what you are doing.

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