For me as a person of faith, it has been hard to reconcile the concept of the vast majority of Evangelical Christians with the backing of their pastors, voting for the republican President Donald Trump despite their knowing full well that he held racist views. Yes, this is a sin. All humans who have been granted the gift of life deserve a real chance to reach their God given potential, be they republicans or democrats, white or any other color. Anything or anyone who stands in the way of this, is not acting in the name of God. This is what the USA is supposed to represent to the world. This great country and its peoples are continuously striving towards this ideal but we are a work in progress.
Silence and denial (pretending that the issue of racism is not serious) in the face of its evil is cowardly, and also is not an attribute associated with God. My question has been and continues to be, how can Evangelical Christians avoid facing up to this sin of racism that is a scourge on this country’s soul?
Only one out of twenty-five Evangelical pastors who have also been acting as advisers to the president, resigned due to the recent Charlottesville, VA events.
As per a 8/18/17 Washington Post article by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “In a first for his evangelical advisory council, New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard announced Friday that he had stepped down from the unofficial board of evangelical advisers to Trump. Bernard sat at the president’s table on May 3, the night before the National Day of Prayer when Trump gathered several religious leaders to announce an executive order on religious freedom.”
President Trump delivered a press conference on August 15, 2017 during which he essentially reversed all the good things he asserted in a speech the day before. While he claimed he still condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists, he went on to claim that within the recent White nationalists’ rally held in Charlottesville, VA. which turned violent, THAT there were “many fine people” protesting alongside the people carrying swastika flags and shields bearing racist symbols. He once again equated those promoting hate like the White supremacists, neo-Nazis, White nationalists and others with those who were opposing them.
During the weekend of August 12, 2017, at the Charlottesville, VA the White supremacists’ protest rally was held to fight the city’s plans to remove a Robert E. Lee statute. The racists as Nazis and white supremacists of all stripes who carried that confederate flag, have been heartened by Trump’s failure to denounce them or their ideology even in the immediate aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, resulting in the murder of Heather Heyer and the death of two law enforcement personnel who were monitoring the rally in a helicopter. And the president’s tepid, late denunciation of racism days later appears to have done little to discourage their belief that he supports them.
Believe what he says. He did admit that swastika-toting Nazis and hood-wearing KKK members are bad guys but he inferred that there were the good ones, the entitled, clean-cut, polo-wearing, torch-bearing racists chanting about how they won’t be replaced? Those are the people who put him into office. And they know a racist leader when they see him.
In their minds the real racism is the affirmative action that gives people of color a chance in a world that hands White people, privilege from birth. They believe the real racists are the ones who declare”black lives matter;” and/ or the invented alt-left. They were ones to resurrect a tried and true “fake news” tale claiming that the counter-protesters were paid for their services. The right’s latest boogeyman is the American “antifa” ( “anti-fascist”) movement, dedicated to violent resistance of ideologies that it sees as inherently violent. While the counter-protesters to Saturday’s (8/12/17) Unite the Right rally planned peaceful resistance, some were prepared for self-defense, if necessary.
President Trump’s history of racism
On August 15, 2017, Jesse Berne of the RollingStone Magazine provides the context to the president’s history with racism in this report, “Trump’s Long History of Racism.”
“You don’t even have to look into Trump’s heart to see his racism. You only have to look at all the things he’s done and said over the years – from the early Seventies, when he settled with the Justice Department over accusations of housing discrimination, to Monday (8/14/17), when just hours after his speech news broke he is considering pardoning anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio.”
“Arpaio was also Trump’s partner in crime in pushing the birther conspiracy that promulgated the ugly lie our first black president was born in Kenya. We’ve conveniently forgotten (if not forgiven) how Trump spent years – years! – pushing a conspiracy based on nothing more than the assumption that a black man with a funny name couldn’t possibly be a genuine American, not like we are.”
“Trump also has a weird obsession with the superiority of his own genes in the face of all evidence to the contrary. That may explain why racism so often seems like his default setting, like the time he took out a full-page ad demanding the execution of five kids of color accused of raping a jogger in Central Park. Even in 2016, years after they were proven innocent, Trump stood by his actions.”
“Last year (2016) was when Trump put his racism on full display for the country to see. From launching his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, to going to war with the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in battle, to encouraging violence against minority protesters at his rally, to promising to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, he built a presidential campaign on racial resentment and fear. Those were deliberate choices he made. His campaign stoked white entitlement and outrage at every turn, sending out dog whistles and sometimes glaring billboards that this was the campaign for angry white people.”
Despite all this history and current events confirming the president’s racist leanings, Evangelicals are silent on this subject. Here’s the rest of the story…
On August 18, 2017, Tom Gjelten of the NPR penned the following report, “Trump’s Evangelical Advisers Stand By Their Man.”
“President Trump’s belated and halfhearted denunciation of the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville, Va., has cost him the support of numerous business leaders and fellow Republicans and prompted at least a half-dozen nonprofit organizations to cancel planned fundraising events at his Mar-a-Lago resort.”
“But Trump’s religious advisers, who might be expected to offer moral guidance, have been almost entirely silent. (Only one) of the 25 members of his “Evangelical Advisory Board” has resigned in protest or even offered public criticism of his Charlottesvile comments.”
The evangelicals’ failure to take a stronger stand has exposed them to some withering rebukes. A tweet from Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, that “corporate America has a greater moral compass” was retweeted nearly 50,000 times.”
“Such criticism has put Trump’s evangelical advisers on the defensive.”
“We believe it would be immoral to resign,” says Johnnie Moore, a lay evangelical leader who has advised public figures on outreach to Christian communities. “As faith leaders, we have been given an opportunity to speak directly to various members of the administration, to provide not just policy counsel but personal counsel. We’re personally involved in the lives of all these people, praying for all these people, and answering their questions.”
“Most evangelical leaders, including those who advise the White House, have been focused on ministry in recent days,” says Moore. “Politics has been the last thing on our brain. We’ve been reaching out, doing what the Bible calls us to do as ambassadors of reconciliation, reaching across the aisle, [and] reaching out to other ministers.”
“Many conservative evangelicals, however, did not hesitate to criticize Barack Obama or Bill Clinton when they objected to their policies or felt their presidencies were somehow tainted, so the reluctance of Trump’s advisers to address his comments has been noteworthy.”
“Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, praised the president for his “bold truthful statement” about Charlottesville. Mark Burns, pastor of Harvest Praise and Worship Center in South Carolina, retweeted a link to a television interview in which he declared his support for Trump and criticized the counterprotesters. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, blamed the news media for misrepresenting Trump’s comments.”
“Other members of the president’s advisory board limited their critical comments to the neo-Nazis and other racists in Charlottesville. Ronnie Floyd, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a statement saying that “white nationalism and white supremacism are anathema to the teachings of Christ. … As Christians, we do not tolerate or condone these protests.”
“Moore, who has served as an informal spokesman for the White House evangelical advisory group, has been equally forceful. “I totally abhor white nationalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and racism in all forms,” he told NPR.”
“Such comments go well beyond the president’s assertion that there were “many sides” responsible for the violence in Charlottesville and that the torch-carrying marchers included some “very fine people,” but the evangelical leaders have been reluctant to challenge Trump directly.”
“I certainly believe the president was insensitive in his comments,” Moore says, but he would go no further, and no other member of the advisory board even went that far.
“An original member of Trump’s evangelical advisory body, James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Chicago, resigned from the group last October, and he has been outspoken about the Charlottesville rally and Trump’s comments on it.”
“Preaching about the events last Sunday, MacDonald said he didn’t want “to call people out by name,” but he left no doubt he was referring to Trump. “The greater your influence,” he wrote in a Facebook post, “the greater your complicity if you don’t call the Charlottesville attack what it really was: a heinous act of domestic terrorism entirely rooted in racial hatred.”
“It’s the height of hypocrisy,” MacDonald told his parishioners, “to demand that people use the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ and then turn around and refuse to use similarly candid terms when referring to racial hate crimes.”