Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals)

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The Scriptures that contain the stories of Israel, the Messiah Jesus, and the early church have long shaped how I viewed the world. It was the bible that affirmed black personhood in the face of an Alabama that did so much to stamp it out. It was Jesus who taught me to love the poor and oppressed. It was Jesus who told me that his coming was good news for people like me, people easier to ignore than to love. The Bible lifted up the vision of a great society consisting of every tribe, tongue, and nation. And I believed every word of it. I have dedicated my life to seeing that vision become a reality.

I thought that my bible loving Evangelical Christians would look into the bible and see the same vision (and be willing to give everything to see it happen in their lifetime). I thought that maybe they just didn’t know how black folks suffered. I thought that if I told them they would listen. I thought maybe that nobody commended Revelation 7:9 to them as the hope for the church and the world. I argued with my black friends who said that white Christians did not care about black people. I said that they were woke Evangelicals who wept and marched alongside us when Tamir Rice was taken from us. I presented the multi-ethnic church as the hope for the world.

Then Donald Trump happened. Let me be clear, I am not saying that everyone who voted for Trump was motivated by racism. That would be silly. I know Christians for whom the pro-life cause was so important that all other issues could be pushed aside in order to secure Supreme Court Justices. I disagree, but I understand. I also understand that some believed that Hillary Clinton was so corrupt that voting for her was unthinkable.

But can we at least admit that the health and well being of people of color did not seem factor into the calculus of the scores of Evangelicals who swept Trump into the White House. For most black folk, there was never a robust embrace of Hillary (I did not support her). Instead we feared Trump because we found his statements about Women, Blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims deeply disturbing. This was not the result of media spin. We heard it and we were afraid. We were afraid because every time he spoke about black people, he displayed at best a deep and abiding misunderstanding of the black experience. We were afraid because we thought that his election would mean that our call for better treatment at the hands of some (not all) police would go unheard. We were afraid that the racial animosity that undergirded some (not all) elements of his campaign would rise. We were worried because we thought that when the chips were down the whole church would support us. Now we are afraid that we are alone. I hope that those fears prove to be unfounded.  We shall see.

For years we have asked the Evangelical Church to partner with us in our calls for justice, and we have consistently been told to wait until more important issues were settled first (marriage, abortion, and apparently jobs for the white working class). Yesterday, it seems, that we were told to wait longer still.

I hope that I am wrong. I hope that in the coming years the church does the work God has given us to do. I hope that we continue to preach the good news of the forgiveness of sins and salvation through faith in Christ. I hope that the church raises its voice to stand with oppressed people of color. I hope that we articulate the Christian faith in such a way that racism and sexism, in all its forms, finds no succor in our communities.

I have often heard the conservative church lament its failure to stand with black folks during the Civil Rights Movement. Well, we are in the middle of yet another reckoning in the United States. What is Evangelicalism going to do?

Although I am worried, I am not afraid. I choose hope over fear because when black folk sang we shall overcome, it was not because we believed that twelve percent of the country could, of its own power, triumph over racism. We did not hope because we had the support of the whole church or society. We hoped and sang because Jesus said that in this world his people would have many trials, but to be of good cheer because he had overcome the world. Or to put it in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “If God’s got us, we gone be alright.” God does have us, and because he reigns, I will press on. I will continue to collude with the coalition of the willing, who believe in the coming kingdom that was bought at the price of the blood of the Son. The hallelujah is weary, but I can still shout it.

 

30 thoughts on “Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals)

  1. Pingback: Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals) | CREATION to ESCHATON

  2. Esau, as a white, female, Christian sexual assault survivor, I share so many of your sentiments and my pain, though different from yours, is so similar. The evangelical church has also ignored and disregarded my voice and the voices of others like me, and we are many. We fall into another marginalized segment of Christianity whose intense fears do not count. My heart hurts for you and for me and for so many whose voices have fallen on the deaf ears of those evangelicals who cannot hear. God bless you, brother. Let’s stand in hope together for the hearts of God’s people to change and to love the poor and the broken.

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  3. You are not alone and you are right in saying that so many other issues have taken precedence over this one. May the white evangelical be humbled in remembering that Jesus himself chose to be born in an oppressed and persecuted race. He feels your pain and there are those of us standing with you who carry this burden in intercession and prayer with you. Thank you for lovingly sharing your heart. My heart is hopeful because of humans and believers like you.

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  4. Great article, but I left wondering, “What is it that you want Evangelicalism to do?” Is there some piece of legislation you are looking for Evangelicals to support? I didn’t vote for either candidate, but I wrote in a candidate. What can I personally do to stand with oppressed people of color?

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      • David,
        Don’t you think it is unfair to ask someone how to solve a problem that they didn’t create the day after they experienced a trauma? Would not the first place to start be empathy rather than asking for a solution from me? Isn’t there someone else you could have asked? Black Christians have been speaking and writing about solutions to racism and systematic oppression for decades. Information was available and has largely been ignored. Secondly, it is not the job of the new testament professor to advise on details of public policy and government. My job is to tell folks what the bible says and the vision of the kingdom it represents. The rest of the body of Christ takes that information and puts it into practice in the areas of influence such as business, government, education, health care, etc. New Testament Scholars do not have to be omnicompetent. So as I said not my job, especially today.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi David! I understand that feeling of wanting to do something but not being sure what to do, and I’ve been there, too. If you don’t mind me jumping in, if you’re looking for some ideas, you could check out this book by Brenda Salter McNiel, “Roadmap to Reconciliation” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWNXKS8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 Also this book is a great tool for small group discussion at churches -Pondering Privilege by Jody Fernando: https://www.amazon.com/Pondering-Privilege-Toward-understanding-whiteness-ebook/dp/B00IPZSYD2
      Both of those books contain many practical ideas for the church. Maybe also connect with churches in your area that are led by African American or Latino/a pastors and listen to what they see as important issues for the church. Putting ourselves under leadership & not calling the shots on what we think is important but listening & learning can help. I think through doing that, you’ll come to see what issues are important and maybe start getting some ideas of action steps that can help support our black & brown brothers & sisters.

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  5. Thank you for sharing, Esau. Praying & thinking about how i can get more active in my own circles of influence to help people move forward on the racial justice journey. When I saw this election, I realized I really had not done enough, and thought too much about myself and my fears of alienating people rather than risking and moving people forward.

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    • Thank you Esau for your second response to David above. I’ve read your post and this thread with a heavy heart in which I want to feel hope. As a white person, I am comfortable saying that we don’t usually recognize white privilege (including the privilege of having someone else give us immediate answers to our demands) for what it is. Christians like you prophetically remind us of the truth.

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  8. Esau your words are very well stated and thought provoking! As usual you have allowed the words of the Lord to flow from your heard (Matthew 16:17). Unfortunately I believe that too many of us will ignore the resounding cry of the people who not only disagreed with President Trumps opponent, but wholeheartedly agreed with HIS perspectives. My grandma always told me that if someone shows you who they truly are…BELIEVE THEM. The masses have spoken, and it is extremely clear that the discontent and frustration expressed by our new President resonates with many of our neighbors and friends. Why must we continue to bear the burden of reconciliation. Why must we continue to uphold the purest ideals of our nation when history and current events have shown us REPEATEDLY that “they are who we thought they were” to borrow a line for the late Coach Denny Green. Like many Americans, the shock has still not worn off personally. God tells us that our hearts should never be filled with hate or anger or distress, and I’m 100% in the Amen chorus with Brother Kendrick, but right now, I’m in more of a Deacon Chance the Rapper mindset…”If one mo label tries to stop me…

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  9. Pingback: Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals) – mikemattice

  10. Esau, this was clearly expressed, and I posted it on my blog. I would call myself an Evangelical. I am a pastor. But I was unaware that Trump had the support of any Christian organization at all. I shuddered every time the man opened his mouth.
    However, no leader is placed in a position of power without God allowing it. The Lord has throughout history used corrupt government to purify and activate His church. That’s the way I’m looking at this mess.

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  11. Thanks David, i really hope it helps! I also just want to clarify- my jumping in was by no means meant to be a condemnation of Esau not jumping in. I simply jumped in because I could see Esau, like many other black and brown friends, are weary of saying the same things repeatedly, and we place an unfair burden on them when we white folk expect them to always help us understand and figure out racism. That’s something we white people need to be helping each other with (another thing you could “do” to help with this issue, actually! :D)

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  12. Hi Esau. I’m Kurt. I love Jesus and so love people of all races. I despise sinful behavior and sin’s warping of my consciousness. I think you have let the media shape your reality (it is identical to theirs) and it is as wrong as their predictions of the election outcome. For instance, I greatly respect what I know of Dr Carson and have learned that he is working with Pres Trump to fix the Obama Care mess. This is one of Trump’s first leadership decisions, hiring a black man. I am sure there will be many more. When he was beginning to gain traction in the bid for nomination I listened to the personal testimony of a black woman, who is the executive in charge of his family’s charitable foundation, who testified of his loving friendship toward her. His family all shared the same love and respect to her. Neither of these are the actions of a racist hate monger.
    He has declared that he will be the President of all. He holds the Executive office in the government. That means that he is tasked with executing. carrying out, the laws of the land. That means that illegal aliens are illegal, law breakers. That means that he must defend us from terrorists who try to immigrate while enemies of America. He must defend us from real threats. With this responsibility in mind I hope Trump does mandate law enforcement to deter illegal entry into our country AND stop or severely limit immigration of known threats. I do not anticipate that he will do so hatefully but responsibly The Constitution does not guarantee rights to illegals but to citizens. When he is sworn into office he will swear to defend the Constitution. The Constitution, (and Declaration of Independence) is what I hope Trump follows and it provided the mandate for all men to be free for the first time in the history of world governments. This marvelous event in history happened because men influenced strongly by a faith in Jesus framed it.
    Nobody is perfect. Neither were the Founders. We can find all kinds of evil movements and atrocities that have occurred in our country. The Civil war resulted in 600,000 deaths! The war in Chicago is our second largest and has cost over 300,000 black lives murdered by other blacks over the last 30 years. So it is not Trump that should cause you fear! It is the evil inside men, even of your own color. Black-lives-matter focuses on a hand full of cops who have shot black people, some wrongly (this is a terrible thing and punishments should be levied) and others deservingly. But they ignore ‘their own’ murdering their own in vastly larger numbers. Why? Sinfulness? Yes!
    I think you should pray about getting involved solving real issues rather than media enhanced issues. Worry about today and work to resolve the evils today. Work to stop instances of whites being pulled from their car and beaten by black men because they voted for Trump. Work to end the threats toward Trump supporters by first reevaluating your mind set and then helping others to do the same. Ask for Jesus to help you to do that and then work for the welfare of President Trump and his supporters today. Go to Chicago and begin influencing peace among Blacks within the city. Let it spread to other cities. God bless you as you pray and work for peace.

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  13. This post encouraged me to be fearless yet loving. That even though my natural instinct is to shy away from the mic as The Marginalized Evangelical – issues like this must be addressed and the church must be corrected.

    After Trump won, a lot of my white Christian friends gloated at the fact that modern day Jezebel didn’t win. Hand in their pocket, whistling their favorite tune- type of gloat. Shooing away the concerns of the marginalized community and coating it with phrases like “God is Sovereign” and “We’ll be alright.”

    Who’s we?

    Now is not the time to be insensitive. Now is not the time to tell the widow and the orphan that “Everything will be alright”. Now more than ever is the time to love in action.

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  14. Pingback: Consider others… | Jen Underwood

  15. Pingback: Life as a Minority and a Christian After the 2016 Election - Urban Christian News

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