Opinion: "The article removed from Forbes, “Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel”

  
Via:  dowser  •  2 years ago  •  48 comments

Opinion:  "The article removed from Forbes, “Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel”

2018 white evangelicals.png Original article:  LINK

**This was originally posted to Forbes on Sunday, Mar 11. Forbes took it down today.   This is the explanation I received from the editor . Here is the original article in full:

Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and an avid supporter of Donald Trump, earned headlines this week for his defense of the president’s adultery with a porn star. Regarding the affair and subsequent financial payments, Jeffress explained, “ Even if it’s true, it doesn’t matter .”

Such a casual attitude toward adultery and prostitution might seem odd from a guy who  blamed 9/11 on America’s sinfulness . However, seen through the lens of white evangelicals’ real priorities, Jeffress’ disinterest in Trump’s sordid lifestyle makes sense. Religion is inseparable from culture, and culture is inseparable from history. Modern, white evangelicalism emerged from the interplay between race and religion in the slave states. What today we call “evangelical Christianity,” is the product of centuries of conditioning, in which religious practices were adapted to nurture a slave economy. The calloused insensitivity of modern white evangelicals was shaped by the economic and cultural priorities that forged their theology over centuries.

Many Christian movements take the title “evangelical,” including many African-American denominations. However, evangelicalism today has been coopted as a preferred description for Christians who were looking to shed an older, largely discredited title: Fundamentalist. A quick glance at  a map showing concentrations of adherents and weekly church attendance  reveals the evangelical movement’s center of gravity in the Old South. And among those evangelical churches, one denomination remains by far the leader in membership, theological pull, and political influence.

There is still today a  Southern  Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America’s most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery.

Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South were not merely outlawed, they were a death sentence. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina’s  William Henry Brisbane , were forced to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister  Anthony Bewley , who was lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at local store to be played with by children. Whiteness offered protection from many of the South’s cruelties, but that protection stopped at the subject of race. No one who dared speak truth to power on the subject of slavery, or later Jim Crow, could expect protection.

Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state. Principled critics were exiled or murdered, leaving voices of dissent few and scattered. Southern Christianity evolved in strange directions under ever-increasing isolation. Preachers learned to tailor their message to protect themselves. If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could either abandon them, obscure them, or flee.

What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. Biblical emphasis on social justice was rendered miraculously invisible. A book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was reinterpreted. Messages which might have questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate could not be taught from a pulpit. Any Christian suggestion of social justice was carefully and safely relegated to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers. In the forge of slavery and Jim Crow, a Christian message of courage, love, compassion, and service to others was burned away.

Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men. In a culture where race defined one’s claim to basic humanity, women took on a special religious interest. Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial was transformed into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.

Changes brought by the Civil War only heightened the need to protect white racial superiority. Churches were the lynchpin of Jim Crow. By the time the Civil Rights movement gained force in the South, Dallas’ First Baptist Church, where Jeffress is the pastor today,  was a bulwark of segregation and white supremacy . As the wider culture nationally has struggled to free itself from the burdens of racism, white evangelicals have fought this development while the violence escalated. What happened to ministers who resisted slavery happened again to those who resisted segregation. White Episcopal Seminary student, Jonathan Daniels,  went to Alabama in 1965 to support voting rights protests . After being released from jail, he was murdered by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who was acquitted by a jury. Dozens of white activists joined the innumerable black Americans murdered fighting for civil rights in the 60’s, but very few of them were Southern.

White Evangelical Christians opposed desegregation tooth and nail. Where pressed, they made cheap, cosmetic compromises, like Billy Graham’s concession to allow black worshipers at his crusades. Graham never made any difficult statements on race, never appeared on stage with his “black friend” Martin Luther King after 1957, and he never marched with King. When King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech,” Graham responded  with this passive-aggressive gem of Southern theology , “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

Churches like First Baptist in Dallas did not become stalwart defenders of segregation by accident. Like the wider white evangelical movement, it was then and remains today an obstacle to Christian notions of social justice thanks to a long, dismal heritage. There is no changing the white evangelical movement without a wholesale reconsideration of their theology. No sign of such a reckoning is apparent.

Those waiting to see the bottom of white evangelical cruelty have little source of optimism. Men like Pastor Jeffress can dismiss Trump’s racist abuses as easily as they dismiss his fondness for porn stars. When asked about Trump’s treatment of immigrants,  Jeffress shared these comments :

Solving DACA without strengthening borders ignores the teachings of the Bible. In fact, Christians who support open borders, or blanket amnesty, are cherry-picking Scriptures to suit their own agendas.

For those unfamiliar with Christian scriptures, it might helpful to point out what Jesus reportedly said about this subject, and about the wider question of our compassion for the poor and the suffering:

Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

What did Jesus say about abortion, the favorite subject of Jeffress and the rest of the evangelical movement? Nothing. What does the Bible say about abortion, a practice as old as civilization? Nothing. Not one word. The Bible’s exhortations to compassion for immigrants and the poor stretch long enough to comprise a sizeable book of their own, but no matter. White evangelicals will not let their political ambitions be constrained by something as pliable as scripture.

Why is the religious right obsessed with subjects like abortion while unmoved by the plight of immigrants, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, and those slaughtered in pointless gun violence? No white man has ever been denied an abortion. Few if any white men are affected by the deportation of migrants. White men are not kept from attending college by laws persecuting Dreamers. White evangelical Christianity has a bottomless well of compassion for the interests of straight white men, and not a drop to be spared for anyone else at their expense. The cruelty of white evangelical churches in politics, and in their treatment of their own gay or minority parishioners, is no accident. It is an institution born in slavery, tuned to serve the needs of Jim Crow, and entirely unwilling to confront either of those realities.

Men like Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy group, are trying to reform the Southern Baptist church in increments, much like Billy Graham before him. His statements on subjects like the  Confederate Flag  and  sexual harassment  are bold, but only relative to previous church proclamations. He’s still about three decades behind the rest of American culture in recognition of the basic human rights of the country’s non-white, non-male citizens. Resistance he is facing from evangelicals will continue so long as the theology informing white evangelical religion remains unconsidered and unchallenged.

While white evangelical religion remains dedicated to its roots, it will perpetuate its heritage. What this religious heritage produced in the 2016 election, when white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump by a record margin, is the truest expression of its moral character.

You will know a tree by its fruit.





We took down your evangelical piece.  It was way out of bounds — painting the entire evangelical movement with a broad brush.
We also have a policy of not talking about social issues like abortion at Forbes Opinion — only economic policy and politics.  We try to keep things data driven.
Also, given your criticisms of Robert Jeffress, you should have reached out to him for comment.  As I noted in a recent email, it is extremely important to reach out for comment from anyone you personally criticize in your work.
Let me know if you have any questions about these points.

***

The content   is reposted here .

A Google cache of the original Forbes post   is available here   (thanks, David).

Thanks for coming by!

 



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JohnRussell
1  JohnRussell    2 years ago

I saw this online earlier today and was thinking about seeding it myself. 

Good job Dowser. 

 
 
 
Dowser
1.1  seeder  Dowser  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 years ago

Thanks, John.  I have often wondered about the casual cruelty of those who profess to love Jesus so much, and this article was an explanation-- likely one that will manage to tick everyone off-- but an explanation.

 
 
 
devangelical
1.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Dowser @1.1    2 years ago

Ditto JR on the seed. It expresses some of the reasons why I can't take evangelicals seriously and demonstrates the danger they pose to America. The American ship of state is dragging an anchor, and it's them.

 
 
 
Dowser
2  seeder  Dowser    2 years ago

Red Box Rules:

1.  Even Forbes said that this article was biased, so let's all agree that it is, but I feel that it has a grain of truth in there somewhere that maybe we should all think about.

2.  Be on point, be courteous to others, and otherwise, do not insult each other or work at being nasty.

3.  The author, (me), will report any infractions to the end that comments that are not polite and respectful will be deleted.

If someone else wants to seed this without the RBR's, feel free to do so!  

 
 
 
Skrekk
2.1  Skrekk  replied to  Dowser @2    2 years ago

While the article uses the SBC as a stand-in for all white evangelicals, it's still pretty accurate.

The only general aspect it missed was a growing liberalization of the SBC and an association with southern labor movements from the 1950s until about 1979 when the SBC leadership was taken over by conservatives again, eventually causing liberal Baptists like Jimmy Carter to leave in a very public manner.    So in a sense the SBC has returned to its roots as an anti-labor cult of bigoted white men.    It still preaches hatred of LGBT folks and refuses to allow women to have any leadership role, much less to be pastors.     And its association with racism and white supremacist views on the alt-right is so deep that the SBC leadership recently felt they had to publicly disassociate the SBC from white supremacy (for at least the 2nd time in its history), lest anyone think that the SBC still endorses the racist views held by so many right wing white evangelicals. 

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-southern-baptist-convention-alt-right-white-supremacy/530244/

 
 
 
Dowser
2.1.1  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Skrekk @2.1    2 years ago

Thanks for the excellent comment!  thumbs up

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
3  Trout Giggles    2 years ago
“Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

I'm trying to wrap my head around this statement. Did Graham really believe that there would be no equality in our time?

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    2 years ago

Yet another of his WTF statements that I've puzzled over for years...  Yes, he did say it, according to this article.  He should not have lain in state at the capitol.  Personally, IMHO only.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
3.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Dowser @3.1    2 years ago

Not just your opinion. He was no statesman and did not deserve to lay in state. I could the flags flown at half mast for a 24 hour period and that's it.

Now I'd better shut up before I start trashing evangelicals

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.2  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.1    2 years ago

I think he set Christianity back by about 500 years.  He was an embarrassment to his faith.  His son is worse, if such a thing is possible.

And yes, I understand what you mean.

 
 
 
devangelical
3.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Dowser @3.1    2 years ago
He should not have lain in state at the capitol

The settling pond at the local sewage treatment plant was frozen over.

 
 
 
devangelical
3.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.1    2 years ago
Now I'd better shut up before I start trashing evangelicals

It's a trending art form. Like taking candy from a baby. Let me know if you need any pointers.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
3.1.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @3.1.4    2 years ago

You'll be my first stop.

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
3.1.7  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to    2 years ago
People like you would trash Jesus Christ himself for the sake of being able to hate.

And people like you would make Jesus weep for what's been done to his name and message.

 
 
 
Phoenyx13
3.1.8  Phoenyx13  replied to    2 years ago
He spoke the truth for decades without ever the first hint of scandal.

wait... this is the truth in your mind ? ----

“Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

maybe it is the truth ?

He never wavered, never stumbled and never ever strayed from the course set before him.

i suppose you could be correct -- 

Graham never made any difficult statements on race, never appeared on stage with his “black friend” Martin Luther King after 1957, and he never marched with King.

i wonder what his "course" was ?

 
 
 
Jasper2529
3.1.9  Jasper2529  replied to  Dowser @3.1    2 years ago
He should not have lain in state at the capitol.

Graham didn't lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda:

http://www.wyff4.com/article/lying-in-state-versus-lying-in-honor/18659120

 
 
 
devangelical
3.1.10  devangelical  replied to  Jasper2529 @3.1.9    2 years ago

The stiff was in a box at the capital. Split hairs much?

 
 
 
lib50
3.1.11  lib50  replied to  Jasper2529 @3.1.9    2 years ago
Graham didn't lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda:

He did lie in honor , not much of a difference besides verbage.  Only one of 4 civilians given the treatment, first religious person in our history.  But true they don't call it 'in state' for civilians, in honor is the term.  I learned something I didn't know.

http://www.businessinsider.com/billy-graham-lies-in-honor-in-us-capitol-history-rosa-parks-2018-2

 
 
 
Jasper2529
3.1.12  Jasper2529  replied to  lib50 @3.1.11    2 years ago
He did lie in honor, not much of a difference besides verbage.  Only one of 4 civilians given the treatment, first religious person in our history.  But true they don't call it 'in state' for civilians, in honor is the term.  I learned something I didn't know.

Yes, and that's what my link explains.

I didn't learn the difference until Rosa Park's death. Until hers, I thought that everyone lay "in state" and didn't realize that those who guard the coffin make the difference.

 
 
 
Jasper2529
3.1.13  Jasper2529  replied to  devangelical @3.1.10    2 years ago
The stiff was in a box at the capital. 

Graham, as well as 3 other stiffs (including Rosa Parks) have been honored in the same manner in the Capitol Rotunda. Your point?

Split hairs much?

If you'd read my NBC link, you would have learned that there's an important difference between the two national honors ( "in state" and "in honor"). 

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
3.1.14  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Phoenyx13 @3.1.8    2 years ago
He spoke the truth for decades without ever the first hint of scandal.

Wow, that is a very low bar for someone of stature.  Now that Trump has been swept into office with the assistance of the evangelical community, an achievement such as that is considered an enormous accomplishment.

 
 
 
devangelical
3.1.17  devangelical  replied to  Jasper2529 @3.1.13    2 years ago

Either way, none of the stiffs knew the difference.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.18  seeder  Dowser  replied to    2 years ago

Nonsense!  Just because I didn't agree with his message doesn't make me less of a Christian, nor a hater.  I am disgusted by the blind faith in Billy Graham and have been for about 50 years.  With that in mind, I, too, believe that Christ was crucified for our sins, etc.  I do not hold with Dr. Graham's viewpoints, but my faith has also remained unshakeable.

The perversion of faith is on Dr. Graham's shoulders, not mine.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.19  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Jasper2529 @3.1.9    2 years ago

Thanks for clearing that up, Jasper.  I don't believe he should have lain in honor in the Capitol rotunda, either.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.20  seeder  Dowser  replied to    2 years ago

People like you would trash Jesus Christ himself for the sake of being able to hate.

Not I.  I find that to be a rather broad statement that is not a true depiction of what I'm feeling.  I can disagree with the tenants of a religion, or the practices of a religion without wishing to denigrate all its followers OR Christ himself.  That's not hate, that's thinking for myself, which is a gift that God gives us.

 
 
 
Jasper2529
3.1.21  Jasper2529  replied to    2 years ago
They have no point, only hatred.  Hatred is all they see Jasper, they're consumed with disgusting, pathetic hatred of anything and everything not aligned with their ideology.

Many years ago, I had the displeasure of meeting Michael Newdow. He's a physician, lawyer, and very outspoken atheist who used his young daughter in order to push his hatred of US citizens' First Amendment rights. 

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.24  seeder  Dowser  replied to    2 years ago

I believe that little white children and little black children, as well as little red and yellow children, can coexist peacefully.  I don't believe that God creates people for the sole purpose of condemning them to hell.  I think there are many more paths to heaven than just the one, and that God also recognizes other faiths, inclusive of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.  I don't honestly believe God cares that much about the details.  I did not hold with Rev. Graham's paternalistic viewpoints, etc.  I can be more specific, but, in all honesty, I'm feeling really badly right this moment and it takes a bit longer than a one or two sentence paragraph to explain.  I read Rev. Graham's column for years and stopped reading it when it made me angry every day.  For me, Christ is the answer, and the promise, but I don't think it is the only answer for everybody.

I see God as a deity of love, not retribution.  I see God as loving all of his creations-- even those I don't particularly like.  For example, I'm not fond of snakes, but they have their place in the ecological system and I don't want their job, for sure!  But I don't want one on me.

I like most people, at least most people I've met, and don't want to go around and hurt people just because I see things differently.  Live and let live is my motto.  

Now, I'm going to lie down and take a nap.  Maybe I'll get to feeling better...

 
 
 
Phoenyx13
3.1.25  Phoenyx13  replied to    2 years ago

If you honestly have to ask what his course was there is no answer whatsoever which would be acceptable to you.

Billy Graham absolutely and unequivocally walked his talk and there are those who simply cannot stand that fact.

do you mean this talk ? --

“Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

is that the talk you mean he "absolutely" and "unequivocally" walked ? it seems like he's condoning (or advocating) racism and discrimination. I have no personal opinion on the guy - i'm just asking for clarification on things. are you a Southern Evangelical ? do you condone this talk from him ?

And as I previously stated, the only message Billy Graham had for the masses was Christ Crucified and salvation through belief in him as the risen savior.

don't forget this message too: 

“Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

he apparently had that message for the masses too, correct ?

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.1.26  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @3.1.18    2 years ago
I am disgusted by the blind faith in Billy Graham and have been for about 50 years.  

I agree. Billy Graham has always reminded me of the movie Elmer Gantry. A very smart charlatan that knows how to really influence those who are simple minded, or so unsure of their own moral core that the feel the need for reassurance from someone else in order to feel worthy. 

Much like the modern day Televangelists, who make their fortune off the stupidity and ignorance of those who have a real fear of going to Hell.

When my Father was a police officer he worked one of Bill Grahams' shows at our local arena. He saw for himself the hypocrisy of those who were involved with the show, and he was truly disgusted. 

Billy Graham preaches at a 1951 revival in Will Rogers Coliseum.   Fort Worth Star-Telegram  

Source:   http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article201355749.html

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.27  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @3.1.26    2 years ago

There are too many people who never question, they just accept, because it gives them some sort of advantage to do so...

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.28  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @3.1.26    2 years ago

Yup.  Exactly.

Every year, the Southern Baptist Convention comes to town, and the titty bars are packed.  That disgusts me.

 
 
 
devangelical
3.1.29  devangelical  replied to  Dowser @3.1.28    2 years ago

There's obviously a limited number of rent-boys and child sex slaves available to them.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.30  seeder  Dowser  replied to  devangelical @3.1.29    2 years ago

Ew.  

Child molestation is about power, and is not confined to any religion or creed.  At least, IMHO.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.31  seeder  Dowser  replied to    2 years ago

This is the problem people like you and others have with him, is he was unshakable.

People like you would trash Jesus Christ himself for the sake of being able to hate.

Here it is, dear.  

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.1.32  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @3.1.31    2 years ago
People like you would trash Jesus Christ himself for the sake of being able to hate.

Yeppers........And people like OSM have no qualms about trashing anyone who does not agree with his own beliefs with the foulest language he can muster. Sooo.....given his penchant for the over usage of foul language, it sort of belies his claims of moral piety. 

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.1.33  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @3.1.27    2 years ago
There are too many people who never question, they just accept

Indeed, Dowser. It is easier for some people to merely accept what is put before them than to question and find out their thinking was wrong. They are afraid to see the truth as it may bust the bubble of their fantasy, at which point they would not be able to live in their world of self-righteousness. Reality can be a real bit*ch for those who fear to live in it. 

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.34  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @3.1.33    2 years ago

Yup.  I still spend a lot of time alone, thinking...  It helps!

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.1.35  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @3.1.34    2 years ago

Indeed it does, Dowser. There is also the Spiritual world around us as well, which does not align itself with any specific religious belief. It just depends on how open ones mind is.

 
 
 
Dowser
3.1.36  seeder  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @3.1.35    2 years ago

BTW, I would love to see the pictures of your family!

 
 
 
Freefaller
3.2  Freefaller  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    2 years ago

Lol I always remembered him as a bit of a loon, but I never quite imagined he was that far gone

 
 
 
Skrekk
3.3  Skrekk  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    2 years ago
Did Graham really believe that there would be no equality in our time?

It was far more than that since he was an opponent of equal civil rights, just like the vast majority of Southern Baptists still are to this day.    It was one thing for him to integrate his rallies but it would have been too bold a move to actively support equal civil rights for blacks, women or LGBT folks.    And the SBC still holds that odious view in regards to the latter two groups.

 
 
 
JBB
4  JBB    2 years ago

I would like to thank the author or so eloquently stating the god's honest truth of how we got to this point...

 
 
 
Krishna
5  Krishna    2 years ago

We also have a policy of not talking about social issues like abortion at Forbes Opinion — only economic policy and politics.

So they think discussions about abortion are ion no ways political? LOL!

Actually IMO, Forbes has a pretty good reputation as a news source. However,vobviously they want to avoid subjects that are too controversial. If they had left the article up, it would have really pissed off some of their readers. (But of course taking it down also pisses off another portion of their readers. ).

These sorts of things are usually a no-win situation for any organization...

 
 
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