Crazy Faith Ministries
I was troubled beyond words when I read that American evangelicals recently asked people to pray for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who is allegedly responsible for the vicious murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A delegation of evangelicals apparently traveled to Saudi Arabia and was welcomed into the Saudi palace, and they were heartened by the reception they received.
Their visit to the country and to the palace of the alleged mastermind behind Khashoggi’s murder was troubling in and of itself because of the heinous and horrific way that Khashoggi was murdered. America has historically taken the high road and advocated for human rights of people in other countries, even as it has denied those same rights to American citizens.
They reflected the mindset of the president, who refused to honor the conclusion of the United States intelligence community, which concluded that the crown prince was behind the murder, and instead decided that since the crown prince had denied his involvement, the United States should not do anything to negatively affect its economic relationship with Saudi Arabia.
While much of America cringes at this president’s apparent idolization of autocratic rulers of other nations, the evangelical community has seemingly accepted his autocratic tendencies.
The evangelical community has said little to nothing about his sexual indiscretions, about his embrace of white nationalists, about his sexism and racism and complete disrespect of American institutions, including the judiciary and the legislative branch of the American government.
Many evangelicals believe that God sent this president, that it was and is God’s will that this man dismantle the government as we have known it. They believe that this president is doing God’s will in all the policies, no matter how damaging they are to “the least of these” – a serious observation in that Jesus the Christ commanded those who believe in him to work for the well-being of that group of people.
While in the past evangelicals have asserted themselves as the moral voice of America – advocating for family values and a sort of unattainable purity of those who call themselves Christian – they have seemingly abandoned all of that as they have elatedly supported all that this president does, has done and stands for.
Highly critical of sexual indiscretions of politicians in the past, they have all but kissed the feet of this man who has a slew of accusations of sexual assaults that have been leveled against him. It doesn’t matter. The Rev. Franklin Graham chided Americans for even paying attention to the charges. What happened between the president and other women is nobody’s business, he said in speaking of the Stormy Daniels case.
Evangelical Christianity has long been problematic because it has been ineffective in denouncing racism, sexism and all of the other isms. Its positions on racial and sexual bias have led some Black theologians to question who God really is.
The late Rev. Dr. James Cone developed the genre of Black liberation theology because the theology posited by White theologians, a theology he taught, did nothing to quell the anxiety of Black and Brown people caused by an apparent indifferent deity. Cone struggled with how to reconcile the notion of a “good God” with the Anglo version of God and Christianity, which seemed to support racism.
William R. Jones likewise struggled with the Anglo evangelical notion of God, and sought to define the notion of divine racism. The two words together seem ill-placed. How could a “good God” be racist?
Black theologians and later, female theologians, White feminists and Black womanists, likewise rejected this Anglo god, which seemed perfect for the evangelical mind.
What we are seeing today is the exposure of the latent racist core of evangelicalism. We are seeing its sexist core as well. The evangelical mind seems to promulgate that the woman’s place is behind her man, having his babies and staying in her place. What evangelicals are revealing is the weakness of their argument about the nature of God. The Bible doesn’t support the idea that God is racist and sexist, but evangelicals have touted that belief system for years.
Recently, I learned about something called the Slave Bible, written by Whites who believed in the rightness of slavery. In that Bible, which is on display at the Bible Museum in Washington, D.C., the story of the Exodus is omitted; many of the prophets, found in the Hebrew scriptures, have been eliminated; and in the Book of Revelation, all references to a “new heaven and a new earth,” where all of God’s children would be free, have been likewise eliminated.
It was a stunning revelation, but also helpful in trying to understand American evangelicalism. Its “conservatism” is devoted to protecting White interests and preserving White power, but that devotion is anti-Biblical, if the Bible is to be believed.
The Bible was written under six different periods of oppression: Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman. Jesus the Christ lived under Roman oppression. The words in the Hebrew scriptures repeat, chapter after chapter, that the will of God is justice for everyone.
That is an image of a god the evangelicals do not accept, and if ever we doubted that their notion of God is different from the God many of us learned about in Sunday School, our doubts can be laid to rest as we watch them proclaim the holiness of a man in the White House who honors nobody but himself – with their blessing.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is working on a study about the ineffectiveness of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution to end racism. To inquire about Smith conducting workshops on the subject, visit http://www.crazyfaithministries.org.