Tag Archives: Hillary Rodham Clinton

#NeverTrump Evangelicals & Trendy Anti-Racism

The year was 2000 A.D., the Year of our Lord, and the very first November I would be eligible to vote for U.S. President and local elections, but most importantly, VOTING FOR PRESIDENT! The 2000 presidential campaign is a memorable for some people because of all of the dangling chads left in Florida and one candidate winning the popular vote while the other candidate “earning” the most votes from the electoral college. For me, the 2000 Presidential election was one of my first theological lessons on race. In Charisma Magazine, there was a survey taken where the results showed a split between White Christians and Black Christians. White Christians were claiming then Texas governor George W. Bush was “God’s man” as they readied up America for a “revival.” Black Christians, according to the survey didn’t really have a notion of “God’s man” but they did prefer to vote for former Vice President Al Gore.

What was wrong? Were these two groups reading different Bibles? What could have been the difference? One disturbing story out of Texas during W’s tenure as governor was his appalling silence about the lynching of James Byrd in 1998. Black communities were the lone group that decried this silence. Bush’s only response was that his administration pushed for the death penalty but is human sacrifice necessary to restore order? Capital punishment did not take away the hatred and racist practices of groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who mobilized during Bush’s predecessors’ three terms to get the Confederate flag on TX license plates. John William King, one of Byrd’s murderers, was in fact, a card-carrying member of a Neo-Confederate White Supremacist gang. A governor failed to listen to the cries of a marginalized people group, the people then continue to suffer. This isn’t a question about whether or not George W. Bush is racist. The question is, what did he do when confronted with the problem of systemic racism, and the victims of racial injustice? Nothing.

Fast forward to 2016. The world is a different place, it has changed, some for the better, and some for the not-so-good. Evangelical Christians in the post-Bush/Cheney era are more cautious with their words, after all of the negative representation from movies like Saved! And Easy A, they care deeply about their image as not seeming too odd. Although he was from a mainline protestant Episcopalian family, Evangelicals accepted George W. Bush as their very own, but as the markets crashed in 2008, discontent and buyer’s remorse was real in White evangelicalism. Who wants to be associated with an unpopular President anyhow? Not only that, but Black Christians and other religious adherents have found newer voices in the fight over white supremacy in places such as the Southern Baptist Convention. A few weeks ago The SBC has denounced the Confederate flag. My high-school self would have done ten back flips. Last week, the Presbyterian Church of America made an apology for racism, both new and old. , repenting for its failure to ‘ lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry.” ‘
Another fascinating development among evangelicals in the field of politics has been the loud and resounding “NO!” of the #NeverTrump movement . Alan Noble of The Atlantic put it this way,

“Suppose you believe the presidential frontrunners are unfit for office — so unfit, in fact, that they are a threat to the moral, political, and social fabric of our nation. For the past three decades, conservative evangelical Christians in America have felt this way about Democratic nominees, particularly because of their stances on abortion and, more recently, religious liberty.”

Donald Trump, you see, on positions such as abortion and traditional marriage is just as bad as a Democratic candidate, and what’s worse, is that Trump is opposed to traditional conservative orthodoxy beliefs such as free market capitalism. Drumpf’s political solutions are authoritarian, and his speeches, tweets, and campaign contain overtly racist ideas. The impetus of the #NeverTrump movement is two-fold: one is many evangelicals principled stands for traditional family values, and the other is the objection to Trump’s shock-jock ways, saying racist and sexist things and then back-tracking on them the next day. It’s not really about Trump’s inexperience or his lack of grasp of any and every issue. Whenever they get a chance, #NeverTrump evangelicals take the opportunity whenever they can to differentiate themselves from Trump’s “authenticity.” It’s a new anti-racism, “Trump’s a Bigot!” “Trump is racist. #NeverTrump.”

Never-Trump Evangelicals are not the only persons joining the fight against racism. Bernie Sanders’ supporters love to remind Black people that Bernie Sanders “walked” with Martin Luther King, Jr. Bernie Sanders is against mass incarceration (who isn’t nowadays?), and that the 50 states locking up thousands of Black and Latinx people is the fault of their favorite scapegoat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yes, you guys, the Clintons were in charge of all 50 state prison systems [ enter sarcasm here]. One BernieBro in a “conversation” this week even had the gall to call me “a Super Predator” as a reminder of something Hillary already apologized for; another BernieBro provided a survey from the Berner circle jerk as “evidence” that Bernie supporters are way less racist than any other voters. That’s exactly why Bernie had all-white volunteer groups recruiting Black voters and held all white rallies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Even white Hillary Clinton supporters see themselves as forces of anti-racism. If Black people and other People of Color vote overwhelmingly for your candidate, you are now the defender of multiculturalism. Place a picture of Barack Obama as your AVI on Twitter, and now you, too, can be a Social Justice Warrior!

Don’t get me wrong. It is good that people are not only recognizing that racism still exists in the U.S., but also that they are getting bold it in calling it out. I want to go back to the basic premise of Noble’s piece for a moment, the idea that Donald Trump, like Democrats past and present are threats to the “moral, political, and social” fabric of our nation in the mind of White evangelicalism. Probably from a majority culture perspective, the U.S.’s social fabric may have been at one point stable and perhaps picturesque, perhaps a time before legalized abortions and the LGBTQIA movement. As a racial realist and a Christian realist informed by history, the nation’s fabric was sewn by enslaved blacks laboring in plantation fields and built on death of children and the destruction of families of African and First Nations descent. No social or religious construction of social cohesion that glosses over histories of oppressions can have any integrity. The failure of a more honest perspective from #NeverTrump Evangelicals is part of the reason why their denunciations of Drumpf ring hollow.

On one hand, conservativism blames “individualism” “the sovereign individual” (right?) for today’s problems and various groups requesting their individual rights, but on the other hand, conservatives address the issue of race and racism as an individual sin. The PCA is repenting for individuals who had racial prejudice; the SBC is protesting the Confederate flag now in the year 2016 because one individual, Dylan Roof murdered nine Black persons in a historic black church. The conservative camp stresses individual, interpersonal acts of addressing racism because racism is more about personal bias because of conservative institutions’ and thinkers’ commitment to rugged individualism.

I’ve made the case elsewhere that White Supremacy is a social disease, it’s an institution that involves practices and systems and is not easily explained as simply individual prejudices. Donald Trump is more than just a demagogue, the rise of Trump is a symptom. Donald Trump simply took advantage of antiBlackness, racial animosity, and xenophobia that was already being pandered to within Conservative institutions. Drumpf is the crazy uncle that conservatives don’t want at the dinner table. Conservatives brought him to the table, now they are upset because they have to be responsible for him.

Like I said in one of the previous paragraphs, conservatives, like any other group, are more concerned with optics. It looks awkward when there are #allwhitepanels discussing race or #allmalepanels discussing gender at evangelical events. Some younger evangelicals may have hope that if conservatives avoid this awful news site, or we keep all the crazy uncles like Donald Trump or a Douglas Wilson away, sprinkle a few token minorities, they can make conservativism more appealing to outsiders. That may be a temporary solution, but it does nothing to solve the real issues of social inequality. Did it ever occur to conservatives that perhaps it’s not extremists that’s the problem, but maybe it’s just the ideology and institutions themselves?

Progressives from the majority culture also seem to have a difficult time understanding how systemic racism works. There’s a local seminary that sees itself as progressive and forward thinking and it even had a chapel service dedicated to Black Lives Matter. However, semester after semester, the school’s population gets more and more culturally homogenous. Green Party Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, who some people have claimed is an anti-racist, “more peaceful” (not pacifist, I mind you) alternative to the Democratic Party, celebrated Brexit while Green parties in the U.K opposed it, she and her followers patted themselves on the back for attending an all white Juneteenth celebration, and now blames “Clintonism” for the rise of Trump. Stein, who markets herself on social media as a “white anti-racist ally” is just really showing her real cards, as someone co-opting the labor of People of Color all the while, in her actual praxis, promoting color-blind racism.

A leading socialist magazine Jacobin, like Stein, continues to promote a narrative of white saviorism, contending that anything but racism is responsible for Brexit and Trump. Forums such as Jacobin have been known downplay the importance of identity politics, preferring to make class as the one marker that counts and thus making them just as susceptible to White Supremacy as their conservative counterparts. For white progressives, socioeconomic status operates as a substitute for the conservative’s “social fabric” or the “natural law” of the land, an all-encompassing concept meant to promote cultural hegemony and a suppression of difference.

My goal for this essay as an intellectual exercise was to push for the idea that anti-racism just isn’t some fad; it’s a long-term labor of love that requires us to act and maybe react on a daily basis. In addition, as one of my friends has suggested, anti-White Supremacist praxis and an ideology can operate within contrasting systems of power, which I would include religious communities, established institutions and publications on the Right and Left, and even institutions of higher learning. Anti-racism efforts are at least three centuries old so the key is to have one eye on the past, and one eye on the present. Ask yourself, “where did the idea that this culture or that culture is inferior to mine own? Where did this cultural norm come from?” If your predominantly White institution is seeking to be more “inclusive,” think of which barriers in that place make it less hospitable to People of Color. Whether you see yourself as radical left or traditionalist right, there is anti-racist work for you to do. As for the fascist threat that is Donald Drumpf , for me, there is one viable #NeverTrump movement left, and it’s #ImWithHer.

Constantine, Hillary Clinton, Mark Tooley @TheIRD and a History of Christian Tolerance


Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I would like to briefly address a history of Christian tolerance. Where did the idea of religions tolerating other religions come from in terms of being participants in the public square? I don’t think there was ONE particular moment in human history where this happened, it was sort of a social development that just sort of happened, and today, “tolerance” is being emphasized because we live in a multi-religious, culturally pluralistic society. Of course, there have always been religiously pluralistic societies, where the prevailing religion was polytheistic, like with the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. But in reality, with imperial politics playing a role in subordinating the masses, the emperor/king served as god with his own group of worshippers. If you did not bow to the emperor, you paid with your life. Religious tolerance then must be seen as ever elusive, even back during Pax Romana.

In recent days, violent events in Libya and Egypt have been used as opportunities for liberals and conservatives to use their talking points. For conservatives and arc-conservatives like Mark Tooley of The Institute on Religion And Democracy, it’s see, I told you so, those Arabs are inherently wild, uncontrollable and violent, and they must be put down (under the foot of the U.S. Military of course!). See Mark Tooley’s: Libyan Horror as an example. Chris rightly responded to Tooley Tooley, the United Methodist?: The IRD Prez TAkes aim at Moderation, tolerance, in the wake of Libyan Slaughter.

Tooley argues that religious tolerance is a liberal idea and must be squashed, and religious freedom includes the free speech of speaker (he is no pastor, I refuse to call him that!) Terry Jones of “Dove” World Outreach Center to start a race war. Burning the sacred books of people, and publicly doing so for the sake of intimidating them, is the exact same strategy that the Ku Klux Klan used(uses?) in burning crosses in front of Black Christian audiences to scare them. The notion that Terry Jones has the right to believe what he believes and to do what he wants to do is just not true. We are not allowed to go to movie theaters and shout, “Fire!” anymore than Jones can continue to yell for “War!” There are limits to our freedom of speech. Tooley would probably acknowledge that there are, but not when it comes to folks who agree with him and his crusading churchianity agenda.

For the first 3 centuries of the Common Era, Christians were persecuted, suffered from the “tolerance” and “enlightenment” of the Roman Emperor cult. Marcus Aurelius, he was more spiritual than religious. Each citizen in the Roman Republic was face with the Jewish Question which was transformed in the Jewish AND Christian Question. According to conservative evangelical scholar Peter Leithart, in his work Defending Constantine, Diocletian treated himself like the god Jupitor incarnate , dressing in fancy clothes, and it was his pax deorum Peace of the gods, for two decades which saw no persecution of Christians at first. But once Christians started to criticize ideas like the Tetrarchy (four rulers over Rome), Diocletian became threatened by what was then a vocal minority of 10% in the Roman Empire. Constantine, according to Leithart and others, understands toleration as “disapproval of certain religious expressions but refrains for principled reason from using state power to suppress the disapproved religion.” Constantine moves away from toleration to concord, a move towards unity. Constantine’s Edict of Milan is a putting of Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek into practice. Leithart criticizes the anti-Jewish flux of Constantine’s policy of religion (the Jewish Problem still a problem in the name of religious liberty).

Mark Tooley argues for religious freedom, with Terry Jones, and with protecting conservative evangelical Christians rights’ to their anti-abortion principles, see his conversation on “Young Evangelicals And Politics”; he claims he wants freedom and tolerance for his side,, but at the same time, he is taking away freedom from American Muslims. Tooley is following theories of religious freedom that are oppressive, as Leithart points out, with people like John Locke, who argued that religions should only be tolerated if they did not threaten the unity of the nation-state. Tooley, as I have argued in the past, who continues to get pacifism wrong, is far more concerned about the unity of the nation-state than he is Christians being free to be faithful to the Gospel. Country takes precedent over the Triune God.

Joel is right to criticize Tooley’s narrative of Conservative Christians being persecuted (oh no’s!); it’s just not happening. We as Christians are not being the sources of entertainment at Hollywood garden parties like what happened in the days of Emperor Nero. Just not the case. The problem is for folks like Tooley and the Washington, D.C., based think-tank Institute for Religious Democracy (that’s my awkward nickname for the IRD), they have deviated from conservative heroes such as Constantine, and would prefer the likes of John Locke instead.

Another Methodist who is more close philosophically to Constantine more than Locke is Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton, according to Living History, was raised Methodist, attended a Methodist youth group growing up, and it was there she learned about the grace and love of God, as well as the Methodist quest for justice in the world. Say what you will about her feminist politics or her association with Wal-Mart, I found her speech on Egypt, Libya, and religious freedom to be inspiring:

Perhaps instead of cannibalizing fellow Christians, Tooley and his Institute for Religious Democracy, should follow the Christian examples of Emperor Constantine and Secretary Clinton, in remaining faithful to religious traditions but still working for the freedom of other religious practitioners. Further, we as Christians and “THE” Church should take the steps promoting Christian nonviolence and love to overcome hostilities around the world.

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Coming Soon to A State Near You?: Austerity

Well, I mean, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State supports what they are doing in Greece.

Is the President trying to send us a message?

Honestly, I think we should be concerned either way; both parties are just hoping that more and more U.S. citizens suffer financially. It’s almost sadistic, and the media is egging them on.

It may be time for people at the grassroots level to do something. I am sick of having my “economic destiny” in the hands of politicians and corporations.