NEW YORK – For centuries the white evangelical Christians have been toying with the soul of the Black people. Engaging in religious demagoguery, organized enslavement, domination, white supremacist schemes, culture fears, and racism – rather than practice the teachings of Jesus Christ, to whom they profess to worship. Their actions have been more fiendish than godly, even to the non-Christian.
First, justifying slavery using Biblical reference, opposing reforms necessary to improve race relations, deafening silence in the face of overt perversion of justice, and unconcealed embrace of Trumpism and every unchristian behavior manifested by the former president.
Paradoxically, all through these phases, the typical African Christian has stuck ardently to this evangelical impieties, despite its antagonism to blackness, and has wholeheartedly clung to this brand of Christianity. Interestingly, the African-American Christians had since separated themselves from this white religious heterodoxy and rightfully distanced themselves from its purveyors-white evangelicals. The proof is evident in their political ideologies and contrasting voting patterns.
The duplicity of white evangelicalism began centuries ago when they first lifted a portion of the Bible to rationalize and legitimize the resolve for domination, power, and greed as whites trade and own other humans. Their go-to scripture in some of their religious shenanigans was Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
With this verse, the slave master whipped the bareback of the erring slave continuously until the slave was unconscious, and some were even left to die under the blazing sun. What kind of diabolism could make a ‘child of God’ do such a dastardly deed? The answer lies in several motivating factors – wealth, power, superiority, and domination.
Frederick Douglas tried to make sense of this virulent strain of evangelicalism when he separated true worshipers of Christ from this duplicitous sect. He stated: “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I, therefore, hate the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason but the most deceitful one for calling the religion of this land Christianity….”
Frederick Douglas did not mince words when he called out the sadism of the white evangelical Christians. The purveyors of this ill have actively promoted segregation and oppression of black Christians and non-Christians alike, from the reconstruction period to the civil rights era and, more recently, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
They vigorously supported anti-black policies or silently allowed racist policies to pervade in the civil rights age. Their opposition to racial justice was seemingly exposed when they accused Dr. Martin Luther King of steering up unrest with his protests, which they said threatens the established social order, fomenting their core beliefs that integrating the races is against the scripture and segregation is a biblical mandate. Quite a heretic posture even to an unbeliever.
This led King to pen his memoir: “Why We Can’t Wait – The Negro Revolution” of 1963. In it, he stated, “…Many white Americans of goodwill have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice. But the Negro knows that these two evils have a malignant kinship.”
King often gets frustrated with these evangelicals, which he also called “moderates,” because of their desire to maintain the status quo of domination and segregation for their selfish gain. For that, King was labeled “a rabble-rouser, an agitator, a communist, and an anti-America.” That labeling made King a target that needed to be entirely razed by FBI’s like J. Edger Hoover, who was hell-bent on destroying him, including the use of blackmail to achieve his aim.
To this very day, the white evangelicals are still not done with their obnoxious antics. In an abstruse manner, they have continued their deceptive attitude to race relations. And sadly, to the detriment of the naively zealous African-Christians who have continued to stick their faces in the sand—refusing to recognize that this religious sect is more political ideologue and merchants of goods than are followers of Christ.
The apex of their religious subterfuge was in their cuddling of Donald Trump. “A president who was manifestly corrupt, cruel, mendacious, and psychologically unwell” (Wehner 2020). Despite the former president’s character ugliness, their actions reveal how far they’ll attack everything they perceive as a threat to the white supremacist ideology, including “dining with the devil.” For instance, in his deposition when he was sued in the 1970s for discriminating against black rentals, Trump stated, “You know, you don’t want to live with them either.”
The evangelicals knew about this and supported him nonetheless. When he said he’d “bring back the death penalty” after five black kids were falsely accused of raping a white woman in Central Park, NY, the white evangelicals winked at him. When he said that Barack Obama, the only black president America ever had, was an illegal alien with no birth certificate, the white evangelicals aligned his pocket with political donations fueling his presidential ambition.
While president, they continued to support Donald Trump. When he tried dozens of times to repeal the law that provides health insurance and ultimately healthcare for millions of black people, they prayed for God to give him the strength to do more. When he ripped crying babies from the bosom of their mothers and sent the mothers back to the wilderness whence they travailed from; the white evangelicals say he is a righteous man doing God’s will. And finally, they continued to support him when he attempted to topple the United States government with the help of his angry mob on January 6, 2020.
Yet, the Christ they profess to follow unequivocally stated when his followers asked him how the least among us should be treated, he answered, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” A far-fetched cry from the practices of the white Christian evangelicals.
Even the notion that Black Lives Matter in a visibly fatally unjust society is a phrase too strong for white evangelicals to utter. To date, no white evangelical leader has come forward to profess that the indiscriminate killings of African Americans by police are unfair or that the BLM movement is a righteous cause that Christ would preach.
The looming question here is; why has the African Christian adherently remained an oblivious admirer of this evangelical orthodoxy? One that is blatantly not driven by the tenets of the Christian teachings but by politics, preservation of white racial status, and other social-economic expediencies. Well, like every other social-political malaise that has befallen Africa, this one is not an anomaly.