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Drag White Supremacy Out of the Prayer Closet

Robert P. Jones's book White Too Long hit me square between the eyes.

Jones and I come from the same soil, Southern Baptist boys who grew up in the South and were blind to the racism inherent in our White evangelical Christianity.

I'm older than Jones, which means I witnessed and participated in things he only knows through historical research, stories passed down. My being there when events unfolded adds to my shame because I realized at the time that what the church was doing was blasphemous.

Yet I didn't speak out.

When Dr. King was assassinated, I was sixteen, plenty old enough to have called bullshit on our church leaders and their tacit and spoken approval of MLK's demise. I remember thinking that if Christianity condoned violence, even murder, against my Black brothers and sisters, if these things fell within the biblical view of justice, then I wanted none of it.

Yet, I didn't speak out.

Jones leads us from the Confederacy, through the Lost Cause, to the present day, his exhaustive research taking a hammer to White Supremacist lies embraced for generations by those White people who identify themselves as Christians.

Yet, the White church doesn't speak out.

As a final note, Jones quotes James Baldwin from a New York Times op-ed piece in 1968:

I will flatly say that the bulk of this country's white population impresses me, and has so impressed me for a very long time, as being beyond any conceivable hope of moral rehabilitation. They have been white, if I may so put it, too long; they have been married to the lie of white supremacy too long; the effect on their personalities, their lives, their grasp of reality, has been as devastating as the lava which so memorably immobilized the citizens of Pompeii. They are unable to conceive that their version of reality, which they want me to accept, is an insult to my history and a parody of theirs and an intolerable violation of myself.

The way forward is not racial reconciliation, the easy path for Whites who just want everyone to play nice. Rather, as Jones says in his conclusion, it is the hard road of racial justice, where White Christians put their shoulders to the plow, forsake their privileged habitations, and work to make a just and lasting society.

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