Christian nationalists in the time of the coronavirus
By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
That racism exists in spite of a “good God,” a God who made everything from nothing, and who declared that all He created was “good” is mind-boggling and puzzling to those who believe in a sovereign God who has control over everything.
White supremacy seems to have evolved only because people with white skin in this country and who were wedded to a desire to enslave people of African descent needed a berth on which to sit. Prejudice against people of color had long existed in Europe, and the lesson that White people were superior was a part of the White mind for some time.
The Pilgrims and then the Puritans brought their racial bias with them to the new world, and used their belief not only in their superiority as White people but also their belief that God had commissioned White people to create a new nation for White people. They then felt completely supported by God as they attacked and eliminated much of the Native American population they found on these shores when they landed.
With the burgeoning new economy, however, using and enslaving people of African descent, religious Whites had to find a way to weave God into the ethos of the slavocracy. They went so far, some of them, to suggest that the God of Black people was not the same God who had created White people. Some “theologians” suggested that the God created Black people before the God of White people came along, and that the snake that seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden was actually a Black man. That narrative, along with the use of the “Ham Doctrine,” helped white supremacists to create a “theology” which was really ideology. Some kind of way, their belief in the inferiority of Black people had to be taught as being the doing of God.
Their “good God” allowed enslavement of Black people, allowed sexism, and turned his head to the annihilation of the Native American nation, which existed in this country. And their “good God” is still on his – their God is certainly male – throne, sanctioning the racist attitudes and actions of White “Christians” who feel nothing as they oppress Black, Brown, and Asian people, as well as Muslims, immigrants and Jews, in spite of their support of Israel.
Christian nationalists believe their duty is to take America “back” to a time when its people practiced “Biblical principles,” conservative beliefs, which have little to nothing to do with the message of the Gospel of Jesus. They claim to preach the Gospel of “the Lord Jesus Christ,” but a careful reading of and listening to their rhetoric reveals that they quote Jesus very little, but instead quote Paul – so much so that one might say they practice not “Christianity,” but instead, the “religion of Paul.”
They believe that religion – which they are calling Christianity – is not about agape love and the building of community but is rather about the building and keeping of power – and they use big dollars to achieve that goal. Jesus the Christ is more a figurehead than a deity to be respected and emulated; many have as much distaste for the Christianity of Jesus as they do for democracy. From the time of Constantine, when Jesus was weaponized and converted to a warrior-deity until now, their religion has moved farther and farther away from the Gospel of Jesus, as noted by AlterNet.org.
They do not believe that “all people are created equal,” and many consider efforts to level the playing field so that all Americans have equal footing in attaining the American dream as being misplaced. They are not in favor of public education, (Jerry Falwell once said that he wanted to see the day when there would be no more public schools, but instead schools run by Christians.) They still blame the poor for being poor and they in effect believe that White people – per the Bible – were created to have dominion over the earth and over the people of the earth.
That being the case, while it might be disturbing and troubling to hear some say, as regards hundreds of thousands of people dying from the coronavirus that “everybody has to die,” and to further say that older people ought to be willing to die to save the economy, it is not divorced from their belief system. They believe in the rightness of their ideology – which they call Christianity; they see nothing wrong what and how they believe. They believe they are called to make this country live according to “biblical principles,” which seemingly include being all right with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all the rest of the “isms” which many find so repulsive and troubling.
The God of Christian nationalists is not the God whose son advised us all to take care of each other, who said that “inasmuch as we do (or do not) do good for the least of these, we do (or do not) do it to/for Jesus. Christian nationalists, it seems, have no time for such words, though they come from the Christ they say they follow.
And that divide – between “them” and “the rest of us” is one of the reasons why so many are confused, wondering where God is, who have always wondered where God is in the time of trouble. The God of Christian nationalists, it seems, is more supportive of partisan politics than of any community of believers. And unfortunately, their movement is not losing steam, not even in this time of horrific pain, suffering and death.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.