Southern Baptist editor Kelly Boggs’ recent column in Baptist Press reveals why white conservative Christians are not taken seriously in needed discussions about race.
The editor of the Louisiana Baptist Convention newspaper, Baptist Message, addressed the controversy over a political cartoon in the New York Post that many considered offensive-believing it to portray President Obama as a chimp. These racial sensitivities are understandable since for generations such racist portrayals have been common.
But white-guy Boggs is quick to give his white-guy perspective with comments like: “I saw nothing racial in the Post cartoon.” “So long as some in our country see racism behind every wrong, every comment and in every cartoon, we will never make progress on the issue of race or be able to put the real racists in their place.” “I do not believe that the Post cartoon contained any racial message.”
Then Boggs quotes and agrees with the equally white, religious right figure Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council-who said that the solution to racial reconciliation is found “in a more aggressive church where we unite around ideals rooted not in skin color but in Jesus Christ.”
While such lofty affirmations sound so-o-o spiritual, they ignore the reality that white evangelical churches have been a major part of the problem, not the solution to racism. An “aggressive church” is where racial discrimination was theologically justified and its related prejudices were reinforced within the faithful for decades.
Evangelical Christianity was a major obstacle to America’s quest for civil rights-in which the “ideals rooted … in Jesus Christ” concerning human equality were ignored or misconstrued by bad biblical interpretations.
Therefore, the words of white (especially Southern) evangelical Christians ring hollow. And Boggs is in no position to tell African Americans what they should or should not find offensive.
On this subject in particular, white evangelical Christians need to shut up about how to “fix” the race problem and spend more time seriously contemplating why our own history of race relations is so deeply marred.
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