Last week, in a sermon aimed at defending a country whose racist legacy has been properly and thoroughly criticized over the past two weeks, Pastor Rod Parsley urged everyone to respect our Founding Fathers.
But didn’t they have slaves? he asked hypothetically. He responded with this stunning claim: “Every one one of them freed their slaves either during their life or upon their death.”
That’s a lie. And the subsequent outcry, according to the Christian Post has been severe:
Professor and Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity Yolanda Pierce also argued on Twitter that Parsley’s comments were insensitive and historically inaccurate.
“Rod Parsley’s latest message was historically inaccurate, insensitive, and patronizing. When you know better, as he does, you should do better,” she wrote.
Terrence Chandler-Harrison, lead pastor at The Liberty Church-Clarksville in Tennessee, argued that racism should not be characterized as a birth defect but a “most egregious sin” that it is.
“Racism was NOT this nation’s ‘birth defect’; racism IS this country’s chief, most vicious, and most egregious sin. It is the deliberate and systemic subjugation of all non-whites that extends beyond mere bias and preferential treatment,” he wrote in a thread on Twitter.
It should go without saying that the people criticizing America’s heritage of systemic racism don’t hate the country. Rather, they’re pointing out historic faults to suggest how we can do better. Parsley, of all people, should know that since there’s a similar concept in Christianity when rebuking sin: If you love people, you’ll lovingly point out their wrong or harmful behavior.
To simply say the Founders were “flawed people,” as he does, is an understatement. (Even if some of them did release their slaves only after death, it wouldn’t exactly be a “win” for their characters.) Just consider how the Declaration of Independence’s pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” only applied to white, Christian men. Even their attitudes toward slavery were hardly enlightened at the time. They should not be immune from modern criticism.
Parsley seems to be aware of how awful his words sounded to people who know better since he apologized on Monday:
“As a white man from the hills of eastern Kentucky, I can’t possibly identify with the plight of people of color in our country. But what I can do is speak out. And I can also admit when I make a misstep. Especially when it hurts, disappoints, or confuses those I love and am called to serve,” he said.
“So let me be unequivocally clear: Slavery was and slavery is a blight on our nation and the world. It was and is an egregious, heinous, despicable sin that grieves my heart and the heart of God. I would never attempt to defend the indefensible atrocities inflicted upon people of color by our founders and generations after them.“
Notice he didn’t specifically talk about his earlier mistakes or explain why he said the lies to begin with. Saying sorry without acknowledging what you’re sorry about isn’t worth much.
Unless he tells people why he was parroting David Barton-esque revisionist history, there’s good reason to believe he’ll do it again in short time.
(Featured screenshot via YouTube)