“These people are not real Christians.”
“These so-called Christians . . .”
“Nazi’s and White supremacy have nothing to do with Christianity.”
And on the flip side:
“Christianity is white supremacy.”
“No liberation can come from an oppressive religion.”
And many more comments along these lines have come across my social media feed.
White Christians of the USA seem shocked to see the Christian flag waved and crosses carried alongside Nazi and Confederate flags. However, we shouldn’t be, the relationship between white supremacy, nationalism, and Christianity has been strong since the dawn of this country, and we need to face it.
And White progressives seem quick to chastise religion as the problem instead of the ingrained white supremacy in our nation’s history.
Both are missing the mark and avoiding a hard truth.
As Jo Luoehmann recently posted, “Christianity is one of the most effective tools of white supremacy.” She is not wrong. And when white Christians distance ourselves from these theologies, we give them space to grow.
The truth is that white supremacist theology is rooted in American Protestant theology. It is the beliefs of white superiority– ingrained in the Christians that colonized this land, justified slavery, and allowed genocide on Native Americans– that have carried through to the people we saw Wednesday attacking the capitol building.
Just like the early colonists, these people are not claiming Christianity despite their racist inclinations. These beliefs are one on the same. They are racist because they believe that their race gives them rights over others because of their Christianity.
And unless churches and Christian communities respond by being actively anti-racist, these theologies will continue to have space to grow.
We need to investigate our personal and institutional systems that stem from old racists ideals and root them out. And until we do, we cannot put our hands in the air saying, “that’s not me” it is us, and we are responsible. It is a weed White American Christians continue to avoid and let grow.
A pattern I have noticed amongst non-Christian White people is a temptation to distance themselves from these broken beliefs. However, they are also missing the mark.
Whether you are White, you stand on the privilege perpetrated by white supremacist theology no matter your personal religious beliefs or lack thereof.
This came to the forefront this week as I read comments chastising Christianity as a racist religion and saying progressive theology, particularly Black liberation theology is fake.
What is coming forward is the same old narrative that there is one way to understand God, and it is through a white supremacist lens. This may feel like an anti-christian statement highlighting the errors I pointed out above. Still, it is actually repeating the same messages slave owners, Jim Crow supporters, and white supremacists today say, “Liberation theology isn’t real Christianity.” In an attempt to maintain white supremacist ideals in their faith.
This statement is not simply sharing your beliefs. It is supporting white supremacist theology by silencing BIPOC religious thinkers and their work toward dismantling white supremacy.
Being an ally is about listening. You get to be happy you are free from the beliefs that oppressed you, but White supremacist theology has not oppressed you. You benefit from it. We do not get to silence BIPOC people. As white people, our job is always to listen.
We do not become less racist because we no longer attend church. We have to root out the internalized racism we have marinated in for our whole lives.
Ultimately White America, no matter your faith, we cannot say this is not who we are. We do not get touch our nose and say, “not it.” This IS who we are. Wednesday was a reflection of US. And this goes beyond party and institutions. It’s messy, it’s dirty, and we have 400 years of cleaning up to do. Let’s get to work.