Tag: slavery

The Apology Every White Christian Needs To Give To Black America

I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am sorry.

I have sinned against you and God in thought, word, and deed—even more so, in the brutal absence of thoughts, words, and deeds rendered on your behalf.

Where words of fierce solidarity were desperately needed, I have been cowardly silent and withdrawn. Where you have been crying out to simply be heard, bestowed justice, and afforded basic human rights, I have been tone-policing your every move while sitting in the comfort of my white Christian couch, staring down my nose at your plight.

My ignorance to my own white privilege, my apathy to your suffering, my comfort in comfortable living, and the worship of my status—all complicit evils to the undeniable hell you have been living.

History tells the disturbing and diabolical tale, I am the reason for your slavery, your continued discrimination, and your unending quest to grasp what God has already bestowed upon you—equal value, capacity, dignity,  beauty, and worth in every way and in all things. You don’t just matter, you are the majesty woven into God’s tapestry of life.

I have declared peace where this is no peace—to your destruction and my shame.

I have highjacked Jesus and turned Him into my personal cruise director, sipping Christian cocktails while the conservative evangelical Titanic plows through and vomits out hatred, bigotry, racism, and greed from sea to shining sea. Not just towards you, but the LGBTQIA community, women, the impoverished, and the immigrant included (to name a few).

At times, I have assumed the worst in you while blatantly dismissing the obvious systemic and intended desire within significant segments of my faith and country to erase you.

I have not resisted nearly to the needed measure, but rather have even participated in a faith system that has been the source of more discrimination, abuse, and destruction of your being and community than perhaps any other racist evil manifestation on earth.

I have become the onward Christian soldier who pierces your side as you hang on racial crosses.

I have blindly turned my brain, conscience, soul, and mind off at church and in society—numbed and satisfied with only having, at best, a passing knowledge and compassion for your history, story, suffering, divine worth, and life experience.

My shrinking back at the Thanksgiving table, the church picnic, the office water cooler, the Facebook comment thread, and the sideline at soccer practice. My carting off the kids to schools where diversity in status, intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, and color of skin is subtly, but surely discouraged. My laziness and chilling absence in being an active force for equality in the public arena with my words, my votes, and my resistance. All, scream of my resounding confession—I am the reason for your living hell. George Floyd, just another page in the nightmares of your story.

When you were thirsty for equality, I was watering and walling-off my privilege—using God and the Bible to rationalize my evil.

When you were naked and vulnerable as a despised minority, I looked away sitting on my hands, and therefore exploited you and raped you of your humanity.

When you were hungry to create a world where all are given equal value, opportunity, freedom, and worth, my irresponsiveness and complacency stole from the table of your divine affirmation and significance in order to fatten my own.

I am appalled at myself as I come face to face with the personal responsibility I have surrendered, the indoctrination I have allowed, and the contamination I have embraced through the spiritual justification of hate spewing out of the sewers of America, largely from the toilets of right-wing, conservative Evangelical Christianity.

I repent and agree with God—until my voice and actions of non-violent solidarity are as loud, numerous, and desperate as the cries of your oppression, I have deeply failed in being Jesus, living His Gospel, and extending His Kingdom to you.

For Jesus did not consider His heavenly privilege with God as something to be used to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself a minority by taking the very nature of the religiously oppressed, being made in true human likeness and meekness. Being found in appearance as humanity, He humbled Himself, standing in fierce solidarity with the least of these unto death—even death on a cross.

As Jesus has done for me, I will do also for you. We are all equal, affirmed, and loved in His sight—period, the end of all debates.

Black America, my heart is sickened to the core at the evil racism I have allowed and therefore have adopted as my own.

For I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am deeply sorry.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Dear White Conservative Christian, Asking For A Friend

Dear white conservative Christian,

I truly want to honor your beliefs and actions by increasing my awareness of what motivates them. I recognize that, according to your Scriptures, Jesus is to be the focal point of all that you are, believe, and do. In fact, it’s my understanding that Jesus summed up what is to be the core motivation for any of His followers with the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Apparently, for Jesus, this is the essence of what “loving God with all your heart” looks like in real Christian living. 

So, in deep respect of that tradition, I’m trying to see things from your perspective and understand the thought process behind your faith, particularly as to how white conservative Christians have lived out that faith in the past and how you’re living it out now—socially, politically, and spiritually. 

Everyone deserves to be heard and understood. 

I’m simply trying to get to the heart of the matter. 

I want to hear you. 

So, I’ve got some questions. Yes, a lot of questions

For example, when a large group of white, primarily conservative Christians decide to crusade against their perceived enemies through a self-declared, “holy war” of massive, bloody violence and murder… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” 

I’m trying to understand.

Or, when white conservative Christians decide to portray a historically brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jesus solely as a conservative, American, white-skinned man like themselves… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” By personifying Jesus as the personal mascot of your own race, country, and specific brand of believing, is that what you believe loving your neighbor means? 

Yet again, I am trying to understand.

When a white conservative group of Christians decide to declare the Bible as infallible and their interpretations of that Bible as exclusively and divinely authoritative over and against all others… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Admittedly, I’m no superhero Christian, but doesn’t that seem more like trying to place oneself over and against your neighbor, instead of loving them?

Or, when a white conservative Christian, for example, like theologian John Calvin, decides to have his theological disagreers punished, maligned, and even murdered (in the case of John Calvin, he had them burned to death)… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” I’m truly curious, how is that white conservative Christians, even now, can subscribe to the theology of a man who apparently missed the highest admonition of Jesus in exchange for hating his neighbor to the point of melting them to death?  

When a group of white conservative Christians take the words of Jesus, “make disciples” and replace them with “make colonies” through the violent pillaging, rape, abuse, and murder of the native people who first lived in America… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Honestly, I’m trying to understand. Which  is why I’m wondering, doesn’t it disturb you that anyone could take the instructions of Jesus to, “make disciples” and twist them into, “mass murder people?” 

But hey, what do I know? 

Or, when a large, white conservative group of Christians decide to enslave black people, abuse them, discriminate, and (here we go again) murder them… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Let me guess, black people aren’t our neighbors? 

When white conservative Christians attempt to scrub the history books of their acts of religious oppression and rewrite them by putting lipstick on the pig of their undeniable bigotry, greed, violence, and immorality… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Please, I beg of you, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “loving your neighbor as yourself” mean making the truth about other people’s history just as important (if not more important) as your own, even if that truth reflects poorly upon you?  

Or, when a group of white, conservative Christians in 1945 unilaterally decide to reinterpret the biblical words long translated as “pedophilia” to now somehow mean, “homosexual”… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t a move like that seem more like a power play to spiritually justify condemning people you dislike? 

When white conservative Christians go out of their way to find fault and criticize a black President while giving a pass to the very same issues (and much worse) that are observed in a white President of their political persuasion… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe I’m way off base, but doesn’t “love your neighbor as yourself” actually mean to love your neighbor as yourself? Wait, black Presidents aren’t neighbors either? My bad.

Or, when white, conservative Christians label impoverished people as “lazy,” LGBTQ people as “evil,” and the unhealthy as “lacking faith”… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe what Jesus really meant was, “Love your neighbors who act, believe, and look like you and don’t threaten your power and privilege. Otherwise, you’re free to demonize, exploit, and lord over as you please.” Yes, now that makes perfect sense, right? 

When a majority of white, male, conservative Christians declare that our country has no responsibility to extend aid to immigrants and refugees… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

Better yet, when white conservative Christians seem to believe that they’re the only ones who truly want to protect the unborn, but are willing to support separating children from their parents at our border and place them in cages while promoting policies that foster homelessness in children… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Aren’t all people our neighbors, and aren’t all neighbors a part of life. Thus, doesn’t truly being pro-life mean truly being pro-everyone from womb to tomb?

Or, when white conservative Christians quickly demonize anything that fosters the emergence of true equality or solicits even the slightest reduction of their dominion and privilege in society… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” For does not loving your freedom mean loving your neighbor’s freedom as much as your own? Does not loving your place in society mean loving the place of everyone else in society, as much as you do your own? Does not loving your way of living mean striving to see people loving their way of living, as much as you do your own? 

You know… love your neighbor as yourself.

Dear white, conservative Christian… where does your motivation come from? Is it really from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” 

Asking for a friend.

Jesus.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Under His Eye : If Conservative Evangelicalism Gets Its Way

One of the most important questions facing our time in history is this… “If right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity gets its way, what would the world look like?”

Despite how various Evangelicals might respond to this question, perhaps the best vantage point for an accurate discernment of the answer is to observe pivotal moments in history where conservative Evangelicals (as a whole) have actually won their desires. For nothing reveals the true content of one’s aspirations like the results they bring when successful.

Or perhaps, we could examine their commonly held beliefs and the future those beliefs envision. To be sure, the true sum of one’s faith can be found most clearly within the impact their faith desires, regardless of what they may or may not claim to confess. We are responsible both for what we believe and the future those beliefs ultimately bring forth, are we not?

With that in mind, one of the prized accomplishments of conservative Evangelicalism is the election and continued support of Donald Trump as President. Say what you will about the politics involved, the bottom line is this—his character, priorities, and leadership are clearly creating a world where the wealthy become richer, the poor become more vulnerable, greed is expanded, bullying is desensitized, corruption is protected, white privilege flourishes, elitism is unleashed, minorities are further marginalized, racism is energized, sexism is normalized, the LGTBQ community is increasingly demonized, and right-wing Christian conservatism is prioritized.

Yet sadly, this is not by chance.

In fact, among many conservative Evangelicals, these realities are tacitly received as nothing less than welcomed results. For if this presidency was the first occasion in which conservative Evangelicalism has had influential success towards the fruition of these same kind of deplorable outcomes, then this moment in history would be less profound. However, from the slavery and lynching of black people to the belittlement and abuse of women, conservative Evangelicalism has long resulted in the increased spiritual justification of some of the most evil atrocities ever committed on planet earth.

In fact, now we have an administration, like never before, that increasingly creates economic systems that blatantly benefit the wealthy and exploit the vulnerable, brutally splits families with children apart who are seeking asylum in our country, aggressively sides with Israel in order to further the fulfillment of “biblical” prophecy, threatens to pull news press credentials over “negative” coverage, belittles and thwarts people with disabilities, and has dismantled highly important LGBT-protecting policies, all in the name of undoing the leadership and legacy of our first black President.   

Yet sadly, once again, this is not by chance.

Conservative Evangelicalism teaches its followers that faithfulness to God leads to financial prosperity and wealth. Having pastors with six figure salaries, churches with multi-million dollar facilities, and followers with luxurious lifestyles are seen as a reward from God not a departure from the ways of Jesus. In the mind of conservative Evangelicalism, if you are struggling financially or devoid of financial abundance, it is likely that some aspect of your faith life is askew. Ministry and Christian “success” is largely defined by the increase and accumulation of “more”—more money, more power, more influence, more campuses, more staff, more baptisms, more attenders, more planes, more speaking engagements, more followers on Twitter. In the world of conservative Evangelicalism, more is never less, more is always more—even at the expense of others.

Conservative Evangelicalism sees people primarily as spiritual projects for the ultimate goal of conversion into their faith system. Even helping the poor and hurting is largely seen as a means to a faith-serving end that builds their kingdom with more converts and satisfies their obligations of obedience to their faith. Poor hurting people are ultimately helped only to the extent in which it somehow serves the Evangelical faith system. In fact, within conservative Christianity, poverty (and even hardship) is often deemed as a result of unfaithfulness and wrong belief.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a territorial greed that desires to conquer people, groups, communities, perceived enemies, and the planet at large, not for the purpose of serving humanity selflessly, but rather garnering its submission to their faith system.  

Conservative Evangelicalism largely portrays Jesus as a white man. Not just a white man, but a white man who is a Republican, gun-owning, racist homophobic nationalist who is wrapped in the American flag.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a good-old-boy-club mentality for white male heterosexuals that gives them a hypocritical privilege, license, and authority over women, often leading to their sexualization, discrimination, control, and abuse. In fact, the only sins that truly matter in conservative Evangelicalism are the ones that are different from theirs and enable them to condemn those who would threaten their white male heterosexual Christian privilege and power.

Conservative Evangelicalism declares the Bible as being the infallible word of God and their interpretations exclusively faithful and accurate to the discerning of its meaning and truth.

Conservative Evangelicalism interprets the Scriptures as condemning the LGBTQ community, labeling them as “abominations,” cancers to our society, enemies of procreation, and deviants destined for hell.

Conservative Evangelicalism once asserted a biblical justification for black slavery and murder, and the demonization of interracial marriage.

Conservative Evangelicalism portrays a god who is justified in killing his enemies, destroying entire of groups of people, and sentencing disobedient non-believers to a hell of eternal torment.  

Make no mistake, what we see unfolding before our eyes is nothing less than the manifestation of the dystopian dreams of much of conservative Evangelicalism. No matter how much they might sprinkle it with spiritual glitter and dress it up with stage lighting and smoke machines, the finish line of their faith understanding is a violent Armageddon that ushers in a kingdom where anything that does not prosper white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege is eradicated from the earth. Spiritually rationalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, nationalism, greed, violence, and hypocrisy are all merely pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

This is put on display perhaps in no more profound fashion than through the current television show produced by Hulu, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based of the novel by Margaret Atwood. This prophetic drama puts forth many images, occurrences, and realities that can be easily seen as reflecting the dystopian fruition of the fundamental beliefs and values of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.  

The truth is, this powerful show does not require a suspension of current reality to understand its message, but merely a gaze into the future of what could be if conservative Evangelicalism continues to gets its way.

In fact, what should be most alarming to us all is this—if conservative Evangelicals were asked to publicly denounce every action and faith confession of the oppressors in “The Handmaid’s Tale” that they believe are contrary to their faith system, I suspect many would find little of which they could accurately object and honestly deny. In fact, nearly everything displayed in this prophetic drama is already currently taking place in one form or another, largely at the hands and influence of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.

Read the Bible the way they read the Bible. Pray the prayers they pray. See the world the way they see it. Believe in God the way the believe in God. Spiritually justify what they spiritually justify. Then you will see, through a simple glance down the hall of its future, the kind of world conservative Evangelicalism envisions. For if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way, make no mistake, this is what the world would look like. To be sure, being “under his eye” won’t point us to the face of Jesus, but rather to the face of their evil.

Keep your soul vigilant, these are dark times for sure, and they’re only getting darker. Hear the call of Jesus upon your heart, “take up your resistance and follow me.”

America will die at the hands of men who exchanged a brown Jesus for white Christianity, and quite frankly, it’s beginning to seem like that’s just part of their plan—if they get their way.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

photo courtesy of Hulu

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Anti-LGBTQ : The New Racism of the 21st Century

I once was full blown, anti-LGBTQ… but not anymore. Not even close.

I have met extensively with LGBTQ people, many of which were already friends. I have read, studied, and dissected every biblical passage on the matter. I have sought the counsel of scholars, scientists, church historians, all from various sides and angles. In the process, I have come to a place of level rest and resulting peace that LGBTQ is no more “sin” than having flat feet. You can’t choose it, and you can’t lose it. Heterosexual, or gay. Straight, or LGBTQ. It’s what you are, or aren’t.

I fully understand the complexity of this issue and all the spiritual, religious, and relational strings attached. This is tough stuff. I am well aware of the nature verses nurture debate and the reparative therapy discourse. The science of gender variances in human biology is compelling to stay the least. Yes, there are those who may “try to be gay” for various reasons. But that is far from the norm, nor the reality for the overwhelming majority.

For the LGBTQ person, there is nothing to be repaired, changed, overcome or transformed. It is… who one is.

As a Jesus follower and pastor, long before I became LGBTQ-affirming, this reality first confronted me when feeling the difference in my Spirit between counseling a person involved in something like abusing alcohol verses counseling a person in regard to their sexuality. Guiding a person abusing alcohol in applying the power of God’s Grace to overcome, fit hand in glove with the heart of Jesus. Doing so with a LGBTQ person left my Spirit deeply unsettled and conflicted. Something didn’t add up. At the time, I couldn’t put words to the disconnect, but I can now.

Being LGBTQ isn’t a problem to be fixed, a sin to overcome, a temptation to subdue, or a stronghold to break. It is the person’s beautiful, God-imaged reality, unchosen and inseparably interwoven into their personhood. There is nothing to change, that can be changed, that should change. It’s like asking a tree to become a mountain. Why would you do that? Both are simply different, and wonderful in and of themselves.

Racism towards black people essentially began during the Renaissance and Reformation. Europeans were coming into increasing contact with people of darker skin in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Merely because of the skin color differences among a minority of people, judgments against blacks were increasingly asserted. From this biological condemnation, a rationale for enslaving Africans developed. Because of their darker skin color, a spiritual scar was branded upon them, declaring them “heathens.” Many used the Bible as their justification. In most instances, a story regarding Noah and his sons is referenced. Ham finds Noah drunk and naked in Noah’s tent. He tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who then proceed to cover their father without looking at him. When Noah finds out what happened, he curses Ham’s son Canaan, declaring he will be ”a servant of servants.” In the biblical account, Noah and his family are never described in any sort of racial terms. But as the story morphed over the centuries, falling into the hands of the religious, Ham became widely portrayed as black. Blackness, servitude and the construct of racial hierarchy emerged.

From simple, unchosen biological differences in a minority, to labeled demonic spirituality, to judged inferiority, to active slavery, prejudice, and abuse. Racism against blacks is born. Much of which, in the name of God and biblical faithfulness.

“[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” –Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America

“…the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”Richard Furman, President, South Carolina Baptist Convention

Enter LGBTQ.

From an unchosen, biological difference among a minority, to labeled demonic origin, to judged deviancy from the divine, to active condemnation, isolation, inferiority, and prejudice. Anti-LGBTQ is born. Much of which, in the name of God and biblical faithfulness.

“[homosexuals are] brute beasts…part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.” -Jerry Falwell, Christian Leader

“Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated. Such conduct violates both the criminal and civil laws of this State and is destructive to a basic building block of society — the family….It is an inherent evil against which children must be protected.” -Chief Justice Moore, Alabama

“Build a great, big, large fence, 150 or 100 mile long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified till they can’t get out. Feed ’em. And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.” -Charles Worley, Christian Leader

Sound familiar?

Anti-LGBTQ, the new racism of the 21st Century is here.

This, my friends, is what we have, and it ought to shake you to your core and sound off every alarm in your conscience and creed.

Maybe for you, like many who lived in the midst of the racial history of the past seven centuries, you don’t see it that way. There are too many cultural, spiritual, and religious biases and presumptions constricting your view. For many, you are simply trying to navigate from what you have heard and long been taught. But just because you don’t see it now, doesn’t it mean it isn’t true now.

I know some of my readers will consider this line of thinking as an atrocity. How can LGBTQ today be symbiotic with the racism of yesterday? Yet, I find it interesting how what are often deemed in history to be theological atrocities of the present later become Christian apologies of the future.

What is a different color of skin on the outside for some, is a different sexual orientation on the inside for others. At the core, it’s as simple as that. No choice, no sin, no different than the color of your skin.

“We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the homophobia that is present.”Desmond Tutu

Wake up America, wake up Christians. Do you really want to be on the wrong side of history, biblical interpretation, and the manifesting of God’s heart for our culture yet again? Do we really want to be connected to and the catalyst of atrocities being committed towards LGBTQ people not unlike the ones we once (and even still) asserted towards blacks?

Let’s surprise even God Himself, and go ahead and write that letter now, apologizing to the LGBTQ community for our role in demonizing, marginalizing, and damaging their lives. A letter, mark my words, we will most certainly construct, sadly years from now, when we finally realize our error and grow the fruits to admit it, in the same way we did with racism, slavery, interracial marriage, and might I add… divorce and women in ministry.

The new racism of the 21st Century is here. It has a name… anti-LGBTQ.

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