Tag Archives: law

Political Theology Reconfigured

Vincent Loyd’s work, The Problem With Grace discerns some of the complex interplay between African American theological perspectives and modern political estates. His first aim is to dispel the methodology that relies upon supersessionist foundations to oppose law and grace. He accomplishes this by analyzing specific religious concepts within both the Jewish and Christian faith. He also relies upon heavily sources outside of traditional conception of theology using both theoretical and literary texts. Lloyd questions the notion that the world is composed of some fallen world in need of redemption. This grace and law narrative is allegorized for the African American context through the story of Grace Mulligan on the Manderlay plantation. The story begins in 1933 when Mulligan stumbled upon a plantation in which the African American living there did not know that slavery was abolished. Grace abolished the plantation law that had governed the slave’s lives and instituted a democracy. While initially successful, the community after a period of time delved into a system predicated on rivalry, suspicion and bloodshed. Grace, who had come to replace the law, eventually flees the plantation because of the unintended consequences that she created. According to Lloyd it is supersessionist logic that led to the demise of the community which was most evident when grace replaced the law. Thus he finds it more relevant to examine society relative to social norms as opposed to a society in need of grace to fulfill the law. This examination occurs through a robust description of various religious concepts and theological virtues relevant to the Christianity such as: faith, hope, love, liturgy, prophesy, and tradition. One concept that I found his analysis particularly relevant to was the virtue of faith.

Lloyd states that love is an exercise for navigating the social world. The challenges and frustrations of social and political life are condensed into how we view the love relationship. Simply stated to truly love is difficult and full of uncertainties. For him what forms the basis for love however is faith. Faith gives us the ability not to walk away from loves despite all of the trial and tribulations that accommodate it. Faith entails a commitment to love even when there are good reasons not to. He strays away from the notion of faith that is commonly associated with a belief in something or someone. In his words “faith is about improper beliefs, beliefs that go beyond what ought to be believe.” Most importantly faith runs counter to social norms. This faith accordingly is able to trump all authority that is generated from societal norms. It even calls for reprimand of those societal structures and norms. I find this view of faith helpful especially when addressing the myriad of issues that we face in our contemporary society. It is possible using this view that we can challenge social and systemic structures that oppress a variety of issues.

Faith as a virtue goes beyond a mere belief in a deity or a higher power. True faith is critical of socio-political structures. This virtue has particularly been important for African Americans in the United States. Whether it was Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights struggle or modern Civil Rights leaders who struggle against the militarization of police states, policies that perpetuate racism, classism, sexism, and heteronormativity; faith has played an important role in countering these structures. Faith can promote social action and change. It is the backbone behind the love ethic that is necessary to fight for these changes. Martin Luther King fought for equality and gave his life for the freedom of all people out of love. However, deeply rooted in his love ethic was his faith that love creates the changes necessary to transform society.

White Supremacist Talking Points: Black On Black Crime #TrayvonMartin

“1. To begin, the fact that the term “black-on-black crime” exists in our lexicon, but not the term “white-on-white crime,” is one of the clearest signs that racism is a guiding principle in this country. And all one needs to do is look at the facts: 94% of all crimes committed against black people are committed by black people; 86% of all crimes committed against white people are committed by white people. Surely, 86% is a number at which we can safely say that white-on-white crime is a very serious problem. Yet, we never do. The term is not in the dictionary. There is no Wikipedia entry for it. It is not browbeaten into the public consciousness. The media makes little to no mention of this term. There are no news specials dedicated to looking at this problem. Neither Oprah nor Barack have touched on the topic. As a result, black people are scapegoated and pathologized as especially criminal when, in reality, we are merely, pretty much, keeping pace with the rest of a society that thrives on violence. If black people are being asked to focus on black-on-black crime, then why aren’t white people being asked to focus on white-on-white crime? Why are some people so focused on black-on-black and black-on-white crime, but get upset when we focus on white-on-white or white-on-black crime?”

Son of Baldwin, FAILSAFE

As I continue my series on White Supremacy Talking Points, I am narrowly focusing on the stereotype of black criminality. It is not just a stereotype that is put forth by the media. “Black criminality” is a myth so pervasive in our racist society that it is viewed as “scientific” and “historic” fact. The criminality and violence of whites in history is avoided being talked about all together. No one can bring up the facts of the history of First Nations people (for an example outside anti-black racism) without talking about white violence. This is why from elementary school to white supremacist neoliberal institutions called universities today, students of all races can go through history courses without reading or hearing about the brutal mistreatment of Native American tribes. Or this abuse and colonial violence will be whitewashed into a few white guilt trips before the class moves on into the triumph of white progressivism (and its racism) over historic oppressions.

White Supremacists of all political stripes love to talk about black on black crime. It’s a dated white supremacist talking point that has been in existence since the Nixon Era (in my estimates, because it’s a post-Civil Rights racist myth). The question I put before is this, why is not “white on white crime” a special category for gun, knife, and other violent felonies? While white racist conservatives and liberals claim that black criminality is a given, the numbers speak otherwise. As I mentioned in my last post, white supremacists do not care about facts or numbers, (history be damned! mathematics be damned!); what matters is the maintaining of white supremacy as the leading principality in U.S. American society. Trayvon Martin was depicted as a drug user (re: THUG, criminal), yet black Americans make up only 12% of all drug users, but 32% of all drug arrests. Whites are almost 7 times as likely as blacks to consume illicit, illegal drugs, but because blacks are the poster children of criminality in a white supremacist society, blacks are the drug-dealing Others, the transgressors of our great society.

84% of whites are killed by other white people; it’s 86% for blacks: a margin of what, 2% in these numbers. Again, something does not add up: white supremacy does not like science or mathematics. White supremacy defies logic, that’s why anti-black racism is irrational. The reason for white on white crime/black on black crime has nothing to do with race, but rather proximity; racism serves as a cloak for xenophobia and “stranger danger” when in reality the perpetrators of crime are more likely to violate the rights and bodies of people who are in the closest proximity to them (familiar danger, if you must). This is why churches and Christian magazines work so hard to cover-up cases of abuse: we want to continue false myths that the institutions we have always trusted are “safe places,” “sacred” and without defilement; in this way, we can keep blind allegiance to the authorities in these institutions.

Bottom line: The racist notion of black on black crime is a white supremacist talking point. It is a white supremacist talking point to maintain the false myths of white racial innocence and therefore moral superiority and black criminality and therefore black racial depravity.

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Invisible Cripple: A Little History and a Hard Truth: A Guest Post By Andrea

“Andrea is a Quaker and angry cripple living on a small farm in the Piedmont of Virginia. In her spare time, she tries to keep her goats from taking over the world.”: Andrea Chandler’s blog/website

As we move farther into the 21st century, Christianity in the US is seeing a huge push for inclusive theology that welcomes all of God’s children. Even while the Old Boy’s Clubs in various denominations try to retrench, doubling down on doctrines that exclude women and QUILTBAG folk in particular, new generations of leadership are rising up to proclaim that the God they know loves us all.
I’m glad to see this movement, but I don’t go to any of these churches. Why? Because I don’t know if I can get in the door. I am disabled by chronic pain, fatigue, and catastrophically bad balance. On a good day, I walk on my own two feet with my service dog to assist me. On a bad day, I ride a wheelchair.
Here’s something most people don’t realize: religious groups are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark legislation in the US that sets minimum accessibility requirements for public buildings (and that minimum is very minimal). They have fought tooth and nail to remain exempt from making their buildings and therefore their services accessible to people with disabilities, most recently in the case of Hosanna-Tabor vs. EEOC. Try not to feel smug about not being a Lutheran or even a Christian until you’ve read the list of who filled amicus briefs. The list of religions and denominations filing briefs in support of their exemption from the ADA and ability to discriminate against people with disabilities as long as they can give it the thinnest of cloaks of doctrine tore my heart out. Even worse was when the decision came down and people I thought were on my side celebrated the defense of religious freedom — except in this case, it meant the religious freedom to exclude people with disabilities.
As a result of this carefully guarded religious freedom, churches do not have to be accessible to me in my wheelchair. They can bar my service dog from entry, thus barring me. I never know if I can even get into a church in the first place, let alone if I will be welcome if I can. Many churches do not give even basic accessibility information on their websites, let alone comprehensive answers to my questions. Can I roll in your front door? Will there be a place for my wheelchair other than at the very back? Is there an audio amplification system (my hearing is also going)? Am I welcome if I’m working my service dog? I could, of course call or email and ask but I want you to think about that for a minute. I want you to think about having to call a church and ask if you can please attend. Think about the very real possibility that you will be told no, sorry, there is no place for you in our congregation.
And so I don’t go to church. Or, more precisely since I’m a Quaker, I don’t go to meeting. And every time I see someone call for a theology of inclusion and radical love, I find myself wondering why no one is also calling for inclusive architecture. Ten percent of the population is disabled in one way or another. Disability crosses lines of gender, race, class, nationality, and sexuality. Your theology may be the most loving and inclusive ideology on the planet, but if the physical architecture of your community and your church don’t reflect that philosophy, then you have barred marginalized people from your congregation.

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