Arthur E. Farnsley II, the research director of Religion and Urban Culture 2.0 at IUPUI, wants us all to stop picking on the real victims during these politically turbulent times: White evangelical Christians.
Sure, roughly 81% of them voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and plan to do the same this time around despite clear evidence of Trump’s corruption and incompetence. Sure, there’s been a Muslim ban and forced hysterectomies and refugee child separated from their parents. Sure, not a single book written by a former Trump administration official has been titled (to quote Seth Meyers) He Was Very Nice & That Was Fine.
But why are you all treating white evangelicals like they’re awful people?!
I do take issue with these legitimate criticisms becoming a license for others to marginalize, even demonize, white evangelical Christians. White evangelicals are routinely and unfairly stereotyped, lumped together in the basket of deplorables with the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville and other supremacists. Some may think it’s not possible to be bigoted against a group that is so closely associated with the historical trajectory of power in America. I disagree.
They’re lumped in with horrible people because many of them are horrible people. This isn’t complicated. It’s not an unfair stereotype, either. That’s why websites like this one don’t have to take white evangelicals out of context to make them look bad. We play the video. We show their tweets. We point to things they themselves are celebrating.
Many prominent white evangelical churches are defying COVID restrictions, suing over them, or pretending like they’re being uniquely persecuted. They’re hosting gatherings with Trump and his surrogates.
Maybe the worst argument from Farnsley is this paragraph, attempting to argue that evangelicals are good people:
… many evangelicals, far from seeking out division, are the salt of the earth. They donate time and energy to their churches, but also to strangers, including strangers in other countries, where they are well known for fighting sex trafficking and providing clean water. They are conscientious parents, church members and Little League coaches. They are honest businesspeople. If racism is systemic, well, they are not the elites who own the systems. They don’t see themselves as racist because, to them, racism is a matter of personal attitude. They don’t see themselves as nationalists either, or if they do, their definition is more akin to what the rest of us call patriotism.
They love strangers! (But they’ll vote for Trump despite the immigration restrictions and refugee bans.)
They’re not racist! (But they’ll vote for the guy who thinks Africa is full of “shithole countries” and exacerbates racial divisions.)
They’re not white nationalists! (But they’ll vote for the guy who uses a Somali-born lawmaker as a punching bag at rallies.)
Farnsley seems to think it’s impossible to be a racist unless you openly declare your racism. Bullshit. Everyone else gets to decide that, not you. The vast majority of white evangelical voters are either openly racist or (more likely) not bothered enough by an openly racist president to withdraw their support for him.
Same difference in the end.
Trump-loving white evangelicals may say they’re against the “neo-Nazi marchers… and other supremacists,” but they sure as hell plan to vote the same way as those people. Those white evangelicals may not all “own the systems,” even though plenty of them do, but they sure as hell plan to vote to keep those systems in place because they’re the beneficiaries of the status quo and they know it.
How ignorant do you have to be to excuse white evangelicals from everything they’ve said and done over the past few decades? These aren’t differences of opinions. White evangelicals who vote for Republicans have spent decades marginalizing everybody else. It’s what they do whenever they have the opportunity.
To put it another way, if Muslims with power ever acted the exact same way white evangelicals do with political power, what does Farnsley think the FOX News crowd would say? If white evangelicals were just patriotic decent people who make our country better, there should be no problem with Muslims echoing their actions and rhetoric, right?
Farnsley also claims, with utter delusion, that white evangelicals have “rarely been at the center of American power.” If that’s the case, I would love to know which group has more power. When 88% of Congress is Christian, you’re not going to find a magical center of power in that 12%.
How ignorant do you have to be to think white evangelicals have it rough? And how arrogant do you have to be to put that in writing?! You have to live in a bubble to have any of these thoughts — which also happens to be another privilege of being a white evangelical. You can insulate yourself from the consequences of your votes while everyone else suffers.
Ultimately, no one has to “demonize” evangelicals. All we’re doing is quoting them directly and holding a mirror to their own actions for everyone else to see. If they don’t like how they look, they should blame themselves.
(Image via Shutterstock)