Crazy Faith Ministries
When I talk with a group of God-fearing Christians, Black or White, there is always a hush that comes over the room when I suggest that we are not a monotheistic nation at all, but have at least two gods.
The words are jarring to a people who claim one God – the God who is the parent of Jesus the Christ. Black and White believers – oppressed and oppressors – call on and claim the same God and read the same Bible.
But the god of the oppressors is clearly different from the God of the oppressed. The god of the oppressors is one who seemingly is OK with racism and the horrific treatment of Black people by a system of white supremacy. The god of the oppressors sees nothing wrong with a “believer” going out on a Saturday night and lynching a Black person – just because they can – and then showing up for church on Sunday morning in a three-piece suit, ready to either take ot help distribute Holy Communion.
The god of the oppressor is the one, say supporters of the current president, who sent this man to lead this country. This man is Biblical, they say, in the same way as was Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king read about in the Hebrew scriptures, who led the assault on Jerusalem which resulted in its destruction in 589 BC. Trump, they have said, has been sent to “make America right again.”
“Right” for the oppressors’ means that white supremacy rules. White supremacy, some say, is a theology that upholds racism as the will of God. Their god ordained and sanctioned racism, they believe, because Ham, the son of Noah, was cursed after seeing his father naked. Although the scriptures say that it was Noah who cursed Canaan, those who use this scripture as the divine sanction of racism say that God cursed Canaan – meaning people of African descent. That being the case, they argue, it would be going against the will of God to oppose racism. It is God’s will, they believe, that the world – or at least these United States – be White.
The god of the oppressed, however, is the god of mercy and justice, the god who led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, where they were oppressed. God saw and God had mercy, the oppressed believe. They read the Bible with eyes that recognize the types of oppression described in its pages. The Bible was written under or during six different periods of oppression: Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman. The oppressed see the hand of God interfering in the acts of oppression meted out against the poor, the downtrodden, women, children and the infirm. The god of the oppressed desires that “the least of these” be treated as they are – as equally deserving of God as are the oppressor.
Jesus the Christ, believe the oppressed, was and is on the side of justice. It was Jesus who reminded would-be Christians of the Shema – that command in the Hebrew scriptures that say we all are to love the One God of us all (Deut. 6). They believe that because Jesus himself says in the Gospel of Matthew that the command to love the Lord God with all one’s soul, might and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves is “the greatest commandment.”
While the oppressed read those words with the understanding that the Christ commands all people to love all people, the oppressors believe differently. Yes, they say, God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but “we get to choose our neighbor.” That sentiment has been voiced down through the ages by white supremacist Christians, and in a recent article in the Washington Post, the sentiment was voiced yet again.
The god of the oppressed demands that adherents practice agape love, forgiveness of one’s enemies, and the building of community, but the god of the oppressor seemingly allows adherents to cherry pick what and how they will obey god.
Clearly, there are two different gods.
During the Civil Rights movement, many churches – in both the North and the South – urged “believers” to stay away from the quest of Black people for dignity and full Americcan citizenship. Doing so represented a break with god, they preached, so serious that one could actually lose one’s salvation. That being the case, “good, Christian” churches remained silent on the issue of racial hatred and discrimination.
The founders of this country believed in white supremacy as well; ironically, the cry “make America great again,” which to many means “make America White again” was the ethos upon which our very Constitution was built. Black people were not human – neither were women or Native Americans. Before the Constitution, White settlers from England, landing in the “New World,” had the capacity to see Native Americans as objects, descendants of Satan. These “good Christian people” saw no contradiction at all with engaging in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, going so far as to say that God “sent the smallpox” that killed so many Native Americans to make room for their illegal and immoral takeover of the country.
Columbus didn’t “discover America; he invaded America, but the oppressors will not use that language nor own the horror of what he did.
The truth is, this country was built by White men for White men. Those who were promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the ones who “were created equal,” were wealthy White male Protestants. The Constitution was never intended to be a document of egalitarianism or “justice for all.”
Now, the oppressors are spouting their belief that “God sent Donald Trump” to save America. The oppressed could not disagree more. The god of the oppressors is not bothered by the increase in hate crimes, by the tearing down of the rights of American citizens, people who have been marginalized.
Evangelicals, including their very leaders including Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffers ands Paula White, continue to spread a theology of white supremacy, the theology of the oppressors.
The oppressed do not, have never and will never accept the oppressor god. That god is anathema to everything learned about God, beliefs which help keep hope alive and which has made their faith a glue in world which has done everything it can to tear them and their communities apart.
Truly, there are two gods, and it does not seem like a reconciliation of the two is in the works right now, if ever. We are not a monotheistic nation. That is a truth which we all need to grapple with.
Dr. Susan K Smith is available through firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.crazyfaithministries.org.