For decades, progressives have been warning us about the religious right. There is no such outcry when it comes to the religious antics of Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
He is senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church (EBC), which claims to be the “spiritual home of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Perhaps this is true. Martin Luther King doubted the divinity of Christ and instead preached racial grievance. While EBC calls Jesus Christ “Lord” and believes in “eternal salvation,” this is its “Purpose Statement: ”[EBC] is an urban-based, global ministry dedicated to individual growth and social transformation through living in the message and carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ.” Like King, Rev. Warnock has trouble with women; his wife says he assaulted her. Rev. Warnock likewise allegedly winked at crimes by associates. King laughed and gave advice while a friend raped a woman. Rev. Warnock is said to have interfered with a child abuse investigation.
Less serious accusations have destroyed white preachers. Jerry Falwell, Jr. left Liberty University amid accusations of adultery. CNN, the Huffington Post, Rolling Stone and countless other publications celebrated. Ted Haggard and Jim Bakker were conservative pastors whose careers ended after sexual sins were revealed. Jesse Jackson lost no influence after his own affair and illegitimate child were exposed. Conservative pastor Mark Discoll left the church he founded after nothing more than accusations of plagiarism, and nothing as blatant as King’s.
Journalists attack conservative politicians with ties to pastors they call “extreme.” The Huffington Post, MSNBC, and others slammed Ted Cruz in 2015 because he spoke at an event with an “anti-gay” pastor. During the 2008 campaign, John McCain dumped Pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley after journalists complained about them. Paula White, a Trump-supporting pastor, is also a frequent media hate-figure.
These ties were nothing compared to Barack Obama’s connections with Jeremiah Wright, who was his pastor for nearly 20 years and who presided over the Obamas’ wedding and children’s baptisms. The title of Mr. Obama’s memoir, The Audacity of Hope, took inspiration from a Wright sermon; the themes in Mr. Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech came from the same sermon. After videos emerged of Jeremiah Wright screaming “God Damn America” and other such things, Mr. Obama said, “I can no more disown [Rev. Wright] than I can disown the black community.” Rev. Warnock has said the “God Damn America” sermon was “Christian preaching at its best.”
Reverend Wright is a moderate compared to Dr. James Cone, a key figure in black liberation theology whom Rev. Warnock called his “mentor.” Dr. Cone praised “the willingness of black church people to think about the total reconstruction of society along the lines of democratic socialism.” The black church, in his view, was a vehicle for racial progress and tearing down whiteness.
His advice to blacks: “If God is white, kill God.” For whites: “There will be no peace in America until white people begin to hate their whiteness, asking from the depths of their being: ‘How can we become black?’” (Perhaps Rachel Dolezal was a disciple.)
In A Black Theology of Liberation, Cone almost explicitly called for a racial holy war:
With the assurance that God is on our side, we can begin to make ready for the inevitable — the decisive encounter between white and black existence. White appeals to ‘wait and talk it over’ are irrelevant when children are dying and men and women are being tortured. We will not let whitey cool this one with his pious love ethic but will seek to enhance our hostility, bringing it to its full manifestation.
Another quote from his book: “We have reached our limit of tolerance, and if it means death with dignity or life with humiliation, we will choose the former. And if that is the choice, we will take some honkies with us.”
What’s the end goal? “[T]he destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods.” [emphasis in the original]
If hate speech means anything, this is it. Senator Kelly Loeffler ran an ad suggesting Rev. Warnock was part of this radical tradition.
.@ReverendWarnock said, “You can’t serve God & the military.”
He called police officers “gangsters” & “thugs.”
And he said we should “open up the jails.”
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) November 21, 2020
Corporate media defended the “Black church” against Senator Kelly Loeffler’s “attack.”
- “Georgia Pastors See Attack on Black Church in Campaign Against Warnock,” New York Times, January 2, 2021
- “Coalition of Black pastors slam Loeffler campaign ads as a ‘broader attack against the Black Church,’ CNN, December 20, 2020
- “Loeffler’s barbs against Warnock are a ‘broader attack against the Black Church,’ Georgia pastors say,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020
Taken for granted in all this is that the “Black church” fights for black racial interests.
In a piece called “Raphael Warnock, From the Pulpit to Politics, Doesn’t Shy From ‘Uncomfortable’ Truths,” The New York Times says:
Mr. Warnock is betting that the time is ripe for a Black Baptist preacher in robes trimmed with kente cloth, who speaks of police brutality and voter suppression from one of the world’s most famous pulpits. While he has built a résumé that piles credential on top of credential, he has not hesitated to share personal experiences like being suspected of shoplifting and having an incarcerated brother.
Republicans have tried to paint him as a dangerous radical, noting his denunciation of white privilege, his defense of Black pastors who have criticized the United States and his support of abortion rights. Incidents from his past have come under greater scrutiny, including an arrest for which the charges were later dropped and an incident last year where his now ex-wife called the police after a conflict outside her home.
In response, Mr. Warnock, 51, has largely sought to neutralize the criticism, as with two campaign ads in which he anticipates the attacks on him and professes his love of puppies. To his opponent, he offers a preacherly rhyme: “People who have no vision traffic in division.”
The Times would never write such fawning coverage — essentially a campaign mailer — of a conservative preacher.
Of course, it’s not just politics; it’s race. Journalists celebrate and defend the “Black church,” but have no sympathy for the “white church.”
The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) recently bought an abandoned Lutheran church. The AFA is a Germanic pagan group. “Asatru is an ethnic faith of European peoples,” explained AFA official Matt Flavel, “believing our gods are our most ancient ancestors, and basically worshipping them and building our community.” Although it bought a church building, AFA is not a church. The Nation of Islam’s headquarters is a former Orthodox church, but nobody calls the NOI a “blacks-only church.”
National media made a big stink about the purchase, calling the AFA a “whites-only church” or even a “white supremacist church.”
- “Minnesota town votes to allow white supremacist church,” New York Post, December 10, 2020
- “After permit approved for whites-only church, small Minnesota town insists it isn’t racist,” NBC News, December 22, 2020
- “Whites-only church identified as hate group gets permit to meet in Minnesota town,” New York Daily News, December 10, 2020
Notice the casual description of the AFA as a “hate group” or “white supremacist.” The claim that the AFA is a church implicitly smears white Christians, a familiar target for journalists. Critics complained that the town gave a “whites-only church” (which isn’t actually a church) a permit. On what grounds could the town refuse? “There are certain Constitutional protections that apply to religions,” City Attorney Don Wilcox told authorities. We still have a constitution (barely) and whites can’t yet be stripped of rights that belong to everyone else.
One resident, Peter Kennedy, was upset. “What other religion in the world makes a big deal out of the color of your skin?” he asked in the Star-Tribune. The answer is: just about all of them.
Jews claim to be the Chosen People. The “Black church” is powerful enough to influence a president and may win a Senate race in Georgia. Shintoism and American Indian religions are largely folk-based, not missionary religions that seek converts. Even supposedly universal religions such as Islam are divided on who should be the authority, based on sacred bloodlines. Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam may have seen Islam (or some variation of it) as the key to black emancipation, but the Sultan of Morocco used a slave army composed entirely of blacks as his “Black Guard.”
Early Christianity was no different. James Russell’s The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity shows that the faith that won Northern Europe was a warrior creed that appealed to the traditions and aesthetics of Germanic peoples. Even within the same denomination, Roman Catholics in Haiti are far different from Roman Catholics in France. Christianity itself has countless sects, but churches portray Christ or Mary differently. We have black Jesus, Asian Jesus, and white Jesus.
Of course, only the last is supposed to be a problem. Thus, many American denominations, even conservative ones, stress that Jesus was non-white. The Southern Baptist Convention preaches that Jesus was mixed-race. The late Billy Graham wanted to breed out human racial differences. Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy wants white Christians to apologize for racism. Some churches, including Lutherans, incorporate Black Lives Matter slogans and symbols into ritual.
Pope Francis champions mass immigration, dismissing any “unspecified ‘moral duty’ to conserve one’s original cultural and religious identity.” This presumably includes saving what’s left of Christendom. The Church of Rome has come a long way from the days of Urban II, who launched the First Crusade by telling the “race of Franks” to wage holy war against “an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God.”
Religions usually start as the expression of a specific people and culture. If sufficiently compelling, they may become universal faiths that win over others. The faith may lose core tenets and spiritual force as its leaders try to appease or conquer the whole world.
There are three paths for religions that want to expand:
- First, there can be an outright reversal. Mormonism was once a white religion, but it flipped on race. This undermines the basis of the faith because God shouldn’t change his mind.
- Second, there can be an attempt to buttress the faith by destroying all foreign symbols or art. We saw this in the iconoclasm that defined ISIS or the Puritans’ war on Christmas after the English Civil War. The result is a faith that is sterile and disconnected from a people and that burns out.
- Finally, the faith may move towards the vague ecumenicism that defines most mainline Protestant denominations and, increasingly, Roman Catholicism. People stop showing up. If the message isn’t any different from anyone else’s, why care?
The “Black church” is strong because it gives blacks a spiritual foundation and a battering ram for advancing black interests. The “Black church” may win a Senate seat in what was once the heart of the Confederacy and home of the “Religious Right.” In contrast, the “white churches,” or historically white churches, are collapsing. The Southern Baptists’ numbers have been dropping for 13 years, and major Protestant denominations have been declining for decades. The Catholic collapse is worse. If Vatican II was supposed to make the Church more “relevant” by making it more modern and less Eurocentric, it failed.
The money from the federal government for church-administered “refugee resettlement” is flowing, but the pews are empty. Countries once defined by Catholicism, such Franco’s Spain or de Valera’s Ireland, are increasingly atheist or non-believing. Pastor Robert W. Lee IV is a media favorite because he wants statues of his great Confederate ancestor torn down. This gets him a guest spot on “The View.”
The decline in membership isn’t surprising. Most white churches won’t defend the identity, interests, or traditions of their congregants. Whites don’t support churches that don’t support them. The AFA wouldn’t be buying an abandoned Lutheran church if the Lutherans hadn’t already abandoned their people. In contrast, black churches fight for blacks.
Traditionally, white Christian leaders defended their flocks. Today, they help feed them to the wolves. It’s no surprise something new is emerging.
A church that fights for its congregants inspires devotion. If it preaches self-hatred, congregants leave, and no people can survive without a spiritual foundation. An anti-white “Black church” can aim for the Senate while “white churches” turn on themselves.
Maybe Martin Heidegger was right when he said: “Only a god can save us. The only possibility available to us is that by thinking and poetizing we prepare a readiness for the appearance of a god . . . .” It certainly won’t be today’s feckless white Christian leaders, who seem more interested in getting good press from journalists than saving their communities.