By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
Since I learned during my research for my latest book that Sam Bowers, the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who was responsible for leading killing raids of Black people, including Vernon Dahmer, a Black man who dared register people to vote, had his army of killers fast and pray before carrying out their deeds, I’ve been convinced that the God of White people is different than that of Black people in this country.
Bowers believed that God had called him to save white supremacy; he compared his “call” to that of the Biblical Paul who met Jesus on the Damascus Road. From that day forward, Bowers carried out what he considered his divine calling with a fiery faith and an equally fiery fury.
I was reminded of that when the Jan. 6 insurrectionists at the United States Capitol Building stopped their vandalism of the Senate chambers … to pray … and my opinion about there being two gods in this country only deepened.
White mobs attacking Black neighborhoods, churches, businesses and individuals is nothing new in this country. The mobs have come out in angry protest over Black progress in this country which has worked intensively to keep Blacks “in their place.” Mobs attacked and destroyed whole Black communities, including in Tulsa, which we commemorate this week in Rosewood, Florida; in East St. Louis; in Elaine Arkansas; and in Wilmington, North Carolina.
What’s striking, though, is that according to documents, many of these mobsters were church-going Christians.
Robert P. Jones writes in White Too Long, “the Christian denomination in which I grew up was founded on the proposition that chattel slavery could flourish alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its founders believed this arrangement was not just possible but also divinely mandated.”
Lecraé Moore, a Christian rapper who grew up in a primarily White evangelical world, realized as time went on that adherents to that faith believed that to be Republican was to be Conservative, and to be Conservative meant that you had key political issues you pushed for: pro-life, small government and Conservative judges. But when he began to voice concerns about how Black people were treated in this country following the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, he was shut down and told that religion was not about politics. Talking about race and racism, he soon learned, was a political issue and was therefore to be ignored. “Just follow the Bible,” he was told. “Follow the Bible and follow Christ.”
He was confused. The Christ he read about and studied did not appear to support racism – or bigotry of any sort – but the White evangelicals with whom he had connected told him otherwise. He found that he had to hold onto his beliefs about God’s desire for there not to be racism. It cost him. Up to that point, he had been a celebrated artist who performed at churches all over the country – including White evangelical churches – but once he put a stake in his belief that God was a lover of all people regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, invitations dried up. Where he once had sung to huge audiences, now his concerts had only a handful of fans. One venue, he remembered, had only 150 people show up.
The god of White evangelicals has always been a problem – on the side, it has seemed, of those who hated Black people and actually worked to exterminate the Native American people who were on this land when the pilgrims arrived – all in the name of God.
They are working now to undercut and undermine the American democracy, and they, again, are doing it as they pronounce that it is God’s will. Racism, they believe, is God’s will, so hearing complaints about attacks on Black people does not bother them. The lives and well-being of Black people is not their concern, nor do they believe, apparently, that it is the concern of God, either, according to an NBC News editorial.
That god is not the God I serve and love. That god has made Black preachers, activists, scholars and writers struggle with the very concept of God, causing some, like the Rev. William R. Jones to ponder who God really is. His book, Is God a White Racist? explores that question in depth.
This issue of Black people being destined by their god to be subservient to White people is not new, nor is it likely to go away. The Southern Baptist Convention was formed as an organization that would propagate their belief in Christ Jesus, but also as an organization that would support the Confederacy and its belief that White domination of Black people – including their enslavement – was the will of God.
That’s not my God, and I daresay that based on what Jesus the Christ shares in the Gospel that the SBC says it supports and spreads, that is not the concept of goodness and community that the Christ taught either.
The White evangelical God is leading people to infamy and toward domestic violence that will tear this country apart. And the most troubling part of what I just said is that they believe that such destruction is the will of their God.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.