Here is a new guest post. This poster is a friend of mine and we enjoy talking about religion, sociology and life together. This article was one she wanted to do when I was discussing the article "The Deconversion Community:Why People are Leaving Christianity."
She was great support to me during my deconversion from fundamentalist Christianity. One topic we have discussed for a long time is the negative effective of the religious right in America. We live in very dangerous times now, and racism is a poison that has taken over this country. The desire to dominate, control and oppress has now entered insanity territory, where human lives are now put as a lower priority then making money. That said, the poor, and working class and African Americans who are among their number are suffering the worse in this pandemic.
I do not think the word "genocide" is too extreme to use in examining Trump's actions in ignoring intelligence warnings to keep the virus from spreading, horrific handling of supplies, and early re-openings forcing poor and working class people to return to their service jobs working with the public and crowded warehouses while a pandemic rampages. They literally will have the choice between working and risking death from Covid19 or quitting and facing homelessness no longer qualifying for unemployment for 'refusing work'. It has personally astounded me, watching conservatives and Christians on Facebook still cheering for Trump and demanding the economy be re-opened. I understand the economic problems here, but let's not forget people carrying Trump 2020 signs to protest on behalf of their haircuts, and for Red Lobster and their giant megachurches to reopen, have done everything they can to deny fair wages, social equality, universal healthcare. They also have advanced racism and classism on multiple levels.
My friend has taught me a lot. I asked her if she wanted to post on this topic on my blog since we were discussing the latest controversies with COVID19. There are historical elements to how we came to where we are today and race has played a huge role. Religion and politics have combined to form a toxic stew. While there are liberal churches and historically African American churches that stand against the right wing political evangelical poison, sadly religion has often served as a vehicle for racism, and served negative purposes for power and domination. White supremacy and racism forms a lot of the core of the position we now find ourselves in today with Trump and the religious right. It also has formed many of the false teachings and harmful positions of the evangelical church where authoritarianism has led to the loss of freedom in America and here too, I can point to that book "Dying of Whiteness:How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland'. Racism has led conservative whites to their own self-destruction even. Aren't we seeing this now in this plague?
Toxic Christianity has Its Roots in Slavery, Capitalism, and Middle-Class White Supremacy
Have you wondered how and why some poor whites, people of color, and African Americans embrace or support a religion that harms them more than helping them? Why are most evangelical Christians in the United States supportive of President Donald J. Trump and his policies that are not biblical? Why are some Christians racist, classist, and bigoted? Why do Republicans of the 1980s to the present decades call themselves Christians who are doing Lord’s work when you see that the policies they created work against people Jesus meant to reach? I came up with my answers to these questions below based on my observations while I read about the history of the United States from the pre-Civil War era in the nineteenth century to the present.
Conservative bullies and anti-stay-at-home activists recently use excessive forces, weapons, and threats of withholding financial resources to force and coerce others to give them what they want. If you follow the news of protests in the state of Michigan, you probably notice that protesters held Confederate flags and carried rifles. Republican legislatures in Michigan bullied, coerced, and forced Governor Gretchen Whitmer to curtail some of her policies. Most conservative middle-class whites in Michigan are descendants of Confederate soldiers and Southerners who moved to Michigan for a job in the car making industry in the early twentieth century. These descendants of Southerners know how to coerce and intimidate people into giving in to their demands by using weapons and taking “stepwise legal actions.” Yes, they claim that they are evangelical Christians, and God-ordained President Trump to run the United States.
Several online news articles and videos noted these white supremacists and conservative protesters receive funds and support by conservative organizations that funded the Tea Party movement and lawmakers in the 2010s. The purposes of these protests were to maintain white supremacy and to show their disregard for African Americans and Latinos who died from the COVID-19 virus in higher numbers compared to whites and Asians. Checking on the news closely, I noticed that the protests began since the news came out that a higher percentage of those who died from the coronavirus were African Americans.
These white supremacists do not care nor love Black and Brown people. They hold complete disregard for people of color’s lives that they do not care if people of color would die if they continue to spread the virus by not staying at home and practicing safe distancing. If a majority of people who died from COVID-19 were whites, they would not have protested.
Most descendants of the Southerners and Confederate soldiers have a family history that includes members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and lynch mobsters. Many Klan members are Christians, and some evangelist Christians are members of hate groups. I left Christian churches as soon as I learned that Christian churches preached against interracial dating and marriage, members of hate groups are Christians, and Christianity supports the system of white supremacy.
Ku Klux Klan members and their descendants knew how to win their argument against Civil Rights policies and equality for African Americans, the people of color, and poor people. Their ancestors did not go to prison or faced execution for lynching African Americans and liberal whites who fought for civil rights, voting rights, equality, and citizenship for African Americans. The stories of the Ku Klux Klan’s conspiracy passed down for generations since the 1870s. Some anti-stay-at-home protestors who carry Confederate flags are descendants of members of KKK, Confederate soldiers, planters, and business owners from the South.
Most KKK mobsters were members of Christian churches in the South, and some pastors of Christian churches were members of the KKK. Some pastors were Grand Dragons or leaders of their local KKK chapter. Members of KKK, Confederate, and hate groups knew how to make the system work for them and how to make law enforcement agencies look the other way when they commit violent acts against others such as lynching. Christian churches helped KKK and members of hate groups to stay out of trouble with the law. At the same time, African Americans and Latinx spent years in prison for committing a less serious offense such as shoplifting or trying to resist a police officer who harassed them.
Many toxic Christian churches you see today are churches that preach slaveholder’s religion. The argument that Black and Brown women are single because God does not want them to get married until they give up their lives entirely to the Lord and become humble is an example of slaveholder’s religion.
During the slavery days, African Americans had to be humble, servile, thankful, compliant, friendly, cooperative, childlike, and subservient. Slaveholders and overseers used a whipping rope to beat runaway slaves or slaves who did not act submissive. Slaves who did not possess docile behavior, personality, and attitude worked in the field where they faced abuses from overseers daily. Slaves who behaved themselves and stayed humbled worked in the house. You heard the terms such as Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemima, mammy, house Negro, Uncle Ben, or contented Black people.
Racist white people expect African Americans to be religious, resourceful, spiritual, thankful, compliant, malleable, physically and mentally robust for backbreaking work, and contented. African Americans face bias and discrimination in the healthcare system because healthcare providers and administrators still hold racist views that African Americans do not need help, because they are physically and mentally stronger than people of other races. If African Americans protest or speak up for their rights, white supremacists will demonize them as angry people who need lessons. Decision making white supremacists would withhold funds and resources, lynch successful or outspoken Black people to teach other Black people from speaking out, or create an adverse decision on Black people’s applications for a job, loan, apartment, license to own a business or admissions to a program.
The tensions between former slaves and their masters began during the Civil Wars because some slaves fought for the Unions to gain freedom while former masters fought for the Confederates. After the war ended, Confederate soldiers came back home to face their devastating losses, including their slaves. Many slaveholders, planters, and business owners opposed Reconstruction policies and Civil Rights for African Americans who were free Blacks and slaves before the Civil War. To recover from their losses in business and properties, planters and business owners took political action to recoup their losses. Slaves were one of the plantation owners’ properties, as they paid for their slaves.
Many field slaves left their masters by moving to the North, Canada, or West. Some former field slaves stayed in the South for a variety of reasons. Several reasons were the system of debt peonage and the Black Codes that came into existence after John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, created the Black Codes. Planters and business owners prevented former slaves from leaving from the South by lynching, engaging in deceptive financial transitions, and taking former slaves to court. Former slaves who stayed in the South suffered financially during the Reconstruction era in 1863-1877.
Planters and business owners refused to sell their property, land, and animals to former slaves, especially former field slaves. Some masters held racist, paternalistic, and narcissistic views that their former house slaves “betrayed” them by not staying with them, especially if they were “kind masters.” These supposedly “kind masters” expected loyalty from their former house slaves who received free housing, clothes, foods, and pleasant things that field slaves and white indentured slaves did not receive.
Masters expected their former house slaves to show their thankfulness and loyalty by accepting their offer of low-wages and free housing. For example, a “kind master” asked a former head house slave who worked as a butler and a counselor if he and his wife would work for him for wage and free housing arrangement. The butler was assertive about his rights, new freedom, and a life with his family. The butler hesitated to take his former master’s offer because he did not want to be a slave. He tried to settle down with his family, start a business, and enjoy his life as a citizen of the United States.
The butler said he would not take the job offer unless the master pays him back wages for forty-plus years of work as a slave. The butler also asked the master to pay back the wages of his wife, parents, children, and siblings worked for some number of years they worked as slaves. The master “felt slapped in the face” and a “sting of anger” at his former house slaves’ “disrespectfulness” and “ingratitude.” The Christian’s message of God wanting Christians and decision-makers to withhold financial resources from African Americans and poor people came from masters’ perceptions, attitudes, and experiences after the Civil War ended and at the beginning of the Reconstruction era in 1865 through 1868.
The argument that God wants some people to be single and childless partially came from masters’ experiences with their female house slaves whom they thought should be thankful for a better living condition than those experienced by female slaves who worked in the field. Singleness and childlessness is a modern form of slavery by another name because most single African American women do not receive financial and emotional support from their husband. Single women without children come home without a family. They spend holiday seasons without their family. African American women are lonelier than women of other races for many reasons. Examples of the reasons are poor support systems in African American communities, societal pressures to wait for African American men to choose them, and racism in the dating market. Churches fail to provide support for single women who seek a husband. In the recent decade, it became apparent that singleness and childlessness are enslavement and cultural genocide in another name.
According to history books, “kind masters” had sexual relations with house slaves, other white women, or free Black women. After the Civil War ended, some former house slaves who moved with their husbands and family became assertive. For example, a master claimed it upset him when his former house slave named Penny packed her suitcases and said goodbye. The master did not like Penny’s way of saying goodbye because she was not as smiling, sweet, and subservient as she was before the Civil War. Penny moved out of state with her husband and her family. The premise that God chose not to answer our prayers for marriage, children, high paying jobs, admission to college, financial aid, or affordable housing came from slaveholder religion. Churches in the South created slaveholder religion during the slavery days and customized their theological concepts after slaveholders, business executives, merchants, and landlords complained about their former slaves’ “behavior” when they moved out.
After Reconstruction ended in January 1877, federal troops left the South and stopped protecting African Americans there. Reconstruction era policies lasted for fourteen years because white supremacists in the South resisted changes. After fourteen years of violent incidents in the South, lucky African Americans left the South, while Southerner whites engaged in lynching and legal abuses against Black farmers, business owners, and families who tried to settle down. The election of 1876 was so contentious that Reconstruction policies ended when the anti-slavery Republican Presidential candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, had to compromise to take his presidency. Rutherford’s opponent, Samuel B. Tilden, was a pro-slavery Democrat and anti-Black. African American and Radical Republicans voters did not want Tilden in the White House and fought against the rigged election. KKK attacked, lynched, and threatened African Americans and Radical Republicans during the year of 1876.
After the Compromise of 1877, the Reconstruction era ended. As soon as federal troops left the South, horseback riders and lynch mobs attacked and killed African Americans and their white allies. African Americans and anti-slavery activists dealt with shotgun intimidation and death threats. White supremacist bullies forced Radical Republicans officeholders to resign, give up their property, and move to the North. During the Reconstruction era, African American farmers became poor because they had to pay exorbitant fees for clothes and food and to rent land. When their crops dwindled, African American farmers became poorer and deeper in debt. White supremacist merchants and landlords took advantage of farmers’ financial predicament. When Black farmers saw that landlord and merchant took advantage of their situations by taking their legal rights away from them in business transactions, they asked elite Blacks and anti-slavery white allies for help.
Black farmers and their families had to pay exorbitantly high prices for foods and merchandise compared to poor white farmers. Merchants and property owners held Black farmers to very rigid standards, making sure Black farmers and their families would not earn a profit and move out of the South. When black farmers or their family members appealed against their contracts to the court, white witnesses, judges, and juries conspired to make sure Black plaintiffs lost their cases. Landlords charged black farmers more for the rent of land than the price of the land. In the 1870s, Black emigrants wanted to move to the West, because there they could earn over twelve dollars per month. In the South, Black farmers made only six dollars per month unpaid in cash because they had a credit arrangement with the merchant. At the end of each contracted year, farmers were usually in debt to white storekeepers and property owners.
Churches in the South, especially Southern Baptist Churches, supported the system to re-enslave African Americans. Churches changed their theological concepts and arguments to help planters, businesses, and white supremacists. Also, churches set poor whites and non-Black people of color apart from African Americans by supporting business owners, planters, merchants, or landlords who offered African American workers lower wages for a job they held as slaves. Before the Civil War, most poor whites and immigrants sought a position that slaves held and worked without pay. During the Civil War, poor whites and immigrants “competed” with slaves for jobs, for example, manufacturing weapons and clothes for Confederate soldiers.
After the Civil War, poor white job seekers still competed with former slaves for a job since most slaves accepted lower wages or replaced white workers who went on a strike. Because of competitions for the job and African American workers’ apparent willingness to accept lower wages and replace strikers, poor whites held a hostile attitude toward African Americans that they agreed to take part in the system of white supremacy. Some militant members of KKK and lynch mobsters were angry poor whites, planters, business owners, and pastors.
Conservative Christian churches abused many poor people that most poor people left Christian churches. Many poor people do not see that God has wonderful plans for their lives if they are poor, single, childless, unloved, ignored, rejected, and held back by adverse decisions. During the Reconstruction era, when the South adjusted how they would treat African Americans, Christian churches contributed to the system of white supremacy and supported Jim Crow laws. Ministers gave messages of hope to poor whites to set them against African Americans. Powerful Southern elites did not want poor whites and African Americans to fight for their rights together, so they set the system of white supremacy to reward poor whites. Some historians noted that most poor whites became violent KKK lynch mobsters in the 1870s.
Since the COVID-19, (coronavirus) pandemic and people throughout the world stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus, racist incidents and speeches took place. African Americans, African-descent people in other countries, and Asians face the worst kinds of racial attacks against them. In mid-April, the United States experienced the most positive COVID-19 results compared to other countries. It became apparent that the United States failed to flatten the curb compared to citizens in other countries because small numbers of Americans refused to practice social distancing and stay at home. Several pastors in the South disobeyed social distancing and stay-at-home orders by hosting crowded worship services. In late April, several Governors gave in to pressure from gun-toting white supremacist bullies by reopening beaches, golf courses, and some manufacturing companies. A Governor in the State of Georgia reopened hair salons, barbershops, movie theaters, beaches, nail salons, and fitness centers. People who disobeyed the orders claimed they had faith in God; therefore, they believe COVID-19 is a hoax or something like that.
In mid-April, the news revealed that most people who died of coronavirus were African Americans. Several days later, conservative middle-class whites in Michigan, Minnesota, California, Florida, Ohio, Washington State, Oregon, and other states protested against the stay-at-home order and social distancing policies. Protesters would rather reopen the economy and earn money than to keep people alive because they learned that the higher majority of African Americans were the ones who died of COVID-19 rather than white people. I suspected these protests had racist and hatred intents because the protests occurred after the data revealed that the highest percentage of people who died from the virus were African Americans.
Most ardent protesters in the Midwest are descendants of Confederate soldiers, KKK members, and Southerner whites who moved to the Midwest to take a job in the car-making factory or a manufacturing firm. The first groups of Southerner whites were poor whites and immigrants who moved to the Western Territories and the North for a job in industries after the Civil War. In the early twentieth century, Southerner whites moved to Midwest for a job in a factory. During the twentieth century, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and states where factory workers lived, the tension between African Americans and whites occurred because some white factory workers fought to maintain the system of white supremacy while they worked to become middle-class.
In the 1920s, the Second Wave of KKK congregated and lynched African Americans who asserted their rights as citizens of the United States. If African Americans were successful, angry white supremacists felt a sense of rage. They had similar rages as narcissistic people’s rages against their victims who spoke up or discard them too soon. The Second wave occurred in the Northern States, where Southern emigrants moved for jobs in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lynching occurred in the Northern States, such as those in Indiana on August 7, 1930. The lynching took place “to prevent African American men from marrying white women,” and African Americans from gaining freedom, citizenship, and equal rights. Some white supremacists used white women as excuses to commit inhumane acts against African American men, women, and children.
Churches in the Midwest and states where many blue-collared workers lived held racist views on African Americans. White supremacist churches hated African Americans because they held racist beliefs that Black people are genetically, socially, mentally, and physically inferior to whites and individuals of other races. They held racist views about the way African Americans look (hair, skin color, lips, and nose). Their racist views about African-descent people’s beauty colored their attitude when they deal with Black people in their everyday lives. The white supremacy and the Jim Crow laws in the South later influenced makers of eugenic laws, creators of racist scientific theories and standardized exams, and Adolf Hitler’s policies during the Second War World. Adolf Hitler claimed he was a Christian!
Christian churches preach against interracial marriages, and it left many African American women single. Many African American men chose women of other races. Churches provide bad dating and marriage advice. I was suspicious when I noticed many single men stayed away from churches, so I have not been an active churchgoer for years. Several Black women told me they attend church because they have faith in God, and they do not want to be angry or hopeless. I noticed young African American adults left churches after they left their parents’ homes.
The lynch mobsters during the Second Wave committed horrific crimes against African Americans, but the authorities did not prosecute them. Examples of appalling crimes are kidnapping, mutilation of bodies, burning bodies, cannibalism, cutting off body parts, showing public displays of murder victims, and taking pictures of lynching victims to use it for postcards. Some pastors took part in lynching because they hated African Americans. In some lynching incidents, pastors of Christian churches preached a sermon about lynching that would take place. This is an example of white supremacists’ deep-seated hatred for African Americans. Their hatred was so palpable that they invited small children and babies to watch lynching incidents on progress, to join them in the “BBQ” and cannibalize Black people’s bodies. They taught white children to hate and desensitized their souls before they started kindergarten.
Conservative Christian churches, including predominantly Black churches, are there to preach and convince poor people of all races, Black and Brown people, and marginalized groups to cooperate with the system of white supremacy and to accept their lots in life. Every Sunday, pastors preached about why God did not answer people’s prayers. Pastors claimed God did not help people to find their spouse, job, financial resources, homeowner loans, or favorable decisions, because God wants them to give up their lives to him completely. Pastors claimed God wants people to give up their plans and goals, and let God control their lives. Conservative pastors who lacked empathy claimed that God wants people to talk to him and accept his plans for their lives without questions asked, including giving up their plans for marriage and children. Surrendering your life completely to the Lord means a life of slavery and abuses from Christians. Many people could not meet these demands.
Thinking about a former butler and a house slave named Penny who did not stay with their “kind master,” I raised my eyebrows when pastors claimed God want poor people to be humble, get a thankful heart, and get along with people who made adverse decisions. Most poor people and African Americans left Christian churches that preach slaveholder religion if their life situations never improved. Many single adults left the church because pastors who talk about family denied single adults of gatherings or events where they could meet their future spouses. Married Christian men or women refused to help single adults find their future spouses. Churches talk about “faith” all the time when people complain about unanswered prayers.
I left Christian churches two years ago after incidents with several Christians who spiritually abused and harassed me because I refused to give up my plans for marriage and children. Since I left Christian churches, I felt free and a sense of relief. I found liberal churches I plan to attend someday, as I am taking a break from churches. Last year, when I got into an elite university without funds, I noticed that churches target poor people while I conducted a crowdfunding campaign. Several people claimed that God was closing doors, so I could not go to an elite university that accepted my application. I noticed I faced racism and classism for four months as I tried to raise funds for my education.
I also noticed liberal Christian churches like the ones Civil Rights activists joined compared to a conservative, predominantly black church I attended three years ago. Prosperity gospel preachers meant to persuade African Americans and poor people from fighting for their Civil Rights or asking for funds. It disturbed me when an African American member of a conservative church told me he did not believe in Civil Rights because he believes God would take care of his problems.
The purpose of prosperity gospel churches is to calm down poor people and African Americans so that they would cooperate with the system. Business owners and oligarchies do not want to deal with people who fight for their rights and opportunities. They want poor people to cooperate with their profit-making schemes and oppression of poor people. Thus, they paid ministers’ training for their positions with scholarships and full funding support in divinity school. Wealthy powerful elites would not provide financial assistance to future Civil Rights activist ministers like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last year, I discovered a book about slaveholder’s religion and felt relieved when I read Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s "Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion." Wilson-Hartgrove noted that Gospel we received at Christian churches that preach slaveholder’s religion is not Good News for African Americans, people of color, and poor people. Slaveholders’ religion is the opposite of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ includes freedom, equality, Civil Rights, and full citizenship for everyone. Jesus Christ demands those in power to look at their hearts and change the way they treat others. White supremacists who enjoy the system that favors them have to give up their privileges. As a white man, Wilson-Hartington gave up his white privileges by moving into the Black neighborhood and working with Poor People’s Campaign with an African American preacher, Dr. Rev. William Leroy Barber.
Today, most evangelist Christians follow the paths of these white supremacists, KKK, and lynch mobsters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most evangelist Christians who support Trump and heartless Republican lawmakers oppose laws that could have helped them because they do not want African Americans to receive funds and resources. Churches and racist organizations taught them about American history. KKK, Neo-Nazi groups, anti-Black groups, and conservative churches taught their members about the history of the Reconstruction era.
The Reconstruction era was a point of contention to white supremacists’ narcissistic wounds because Black people who left the plantation “slapped” their former master’s face. African Americans voted for Black and Radical white Republicans in election campaigns. Because some African Americans already left the South during the Civil War, the Freedmen’s Bureau occurred to encourage former slaves to stay in the South and take land from plantation owners who lost their land during the Civil War. White supremacists felt resentful when they saw that the federal government provided free clothes, food, property, and education to former slaves. They felt enraged when they saw few African Americans who succeeded in business, and prospered ended up leaving the South.
One hundred fifty years later, President Barack Obama was the epitome of successful African Americans. Although many white people voted for Obama, most middle-class whites felt a sense of resentment and anger at Obama’s success and elite status. President Obama’s class, grace, and connection with President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, enraged narcissistic white supremacists.
After eight years of the Obama Administration, most white supremacists voted for Donald J. Trump for President. Today, most white supremacists, evangelist Christians, and Tea Partiers support Trump regardless of his status with churches. They still insist that God ordained Trump for the presidency when, in reality, gerrymandering, Citizens United law, and rigged elections helped Trump win the election in 2016. Trump’s administration is a symptom of racist white supremacists’ attitude toward African Americans, people of color, and poor whites. Their Christianity is a sham because they follow the slaveholder religion rather than the gospel of liberation from Jesus Christ.
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