by Ross Decker Sr
Some time ago, during President Obama’s first term, my brother-in-law wrote a blog post that I vehemently disagreed with. He claimed that white Christians across the nation were angry with Obama’s policies because of one reason. He was a black man. And the thing that riled these Christians the most in my brother-in-law’s eyes was that “there was a black man in the White house.” Now, my brother-in-law, being an enthusiastic man, didn’t say “black man.” He used the “N word” just like he was Obama podcasting from a garage. He did not use the euphemism. He claimed that white, evangelical protestants were using that word too, in their own homes, in their small groups and in their prayer groups.
I was sure he was wrong. And I told him so. After all, he didn’t know any Christians except for me and my family. And we never used the word. I have never heard any of my friends use that word in a small group or prayer meeting. So, he was wrong. Or so i thought….
At the time he wrote that piece I was only on theTwitter. I hadn’t gotten to The Facebook yet. And Twitter was fairly recent. People were fascinated then just by their ability to send out random thoughts, stream of consciousness style. John Mayer used his Twitter account to hawk Sodastream. Demi Moore used hers to promote Kindle. And Ashton Kutcher used his to shill for everything. But back then, no one was using Twitter for politics or social issues. Then, I made the jump to Facebook.
Facebook seemed to me to be the home ground for causes. People were posting memes about everything they loved. And everything they hated. And one thing they hated a lot was the black man in the White House. My Facebook timeline was flooded with anti-Obama posts. There were posts about blacks getting a free ride from “Obamaphones.” There were memes where Obama and, much worse, his family were photoshopped to have chimpanzee mouths, Obama eating a banana, the president dressed as a witch doctor to show what Obama Care was like. I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t Renig in 2012.”
My Twitter feed has a lot of variety. My Facebook feed is full of Christians. Full of Christian bigots. They all, of course, said that none of it was racist. They were angry and and they were insulted that I thought they were. And, of course, the debate has to end there. When someone says they aren’t racist there is nothing else to be done. There were a few, actually two, who argued on. One said that her experience as an emergency room nurse gave her the opportunity to see blacks as they really were. They came to the ER in taxis, wearing expensive sneakers and the carrying the latest IPhone. They were getting over on society. Another told similar conclusive stories about being behind “Welfare Queens at the supermarket and checking the carts for cigarettes and beer. And Pop Tarts. It really bothered this woman that someone would use their welfare benefits on something as unhealthy as Pop Tarts.
Lately the big thing is the demand to drug test welfare recipients. Cancel their benefits if they fail. And cut off benefits to anyone exercising their right to peacefully protest, exercising their right to free speech by burning a flag. And their kids? Well, they haven’t thought it out that far.
I went to a week long seminar with my church awhile back. A bunch of us guys were walking from the seminar site to our bed and breakfast. We were all complaining about how grouchy the B&B owner was. All the guys, including me, had an example. But, my friend, Bill Modrich spoke up. “Guys,” he said,”we’ve spent this whole week learning how to solve conflict based on Biblical principles. Now, none of us can deal with this without talking behind this lady’s back?” I pretty much laughed out loud just before I realized that Bill was serious. And it really hit home with me that, despite what I claimed about my religion, I really had a disconnect between the theory and the practice. Bill’s said that if we really believed what we said we did, our actions would be so much different. I’ve gotten much better at narrowing that gap but I still need to work on it daily.
Sometimes I think that many Christians, finding God, find a God whose political and social views are pretty much in line with theirs. To me, that seems a pretty good indicator that what you’ve found isn’t God at all. Or at the very least, not the one who can deliver the life altering changes the Gospel promises. Sometimes it seems that, instead of becoming a new creature in Christ, we have just invited Christ on to our side to ride shotgun through our daily living. It isn’t at all like Abraham Lincoln saw it. When he was asked if he thought God was on the side of the northern army he answered that it was his fervent hope that the north was on God’s side.
So, Christians, we can’t act like this. We didn’t sign up to be mean and nasty. We didn’t sign up to degrade our fellow humans. We signed up to follow a Lord who loves everyone. We signed up to serve a God who created man in his image and gave each one human dignity. That’s one of the basic teachings of Christianity. Humans, all humans, are created in the image of God and have a right to be treated with dignity. More directly, when we try to strip another of their God-given dignity, we actually strip ourselves. Who can read a blatantly racist post without seeing how hateful and needy the poster is. The post reveals to all that he has voluntarily thrown off the mantle of dignity that God wants to cloak him with. He means to degrade the target but he degrades himself.
Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace
Barry McGuire wrote those lyrics from “Eve of Destruction” fifty years ago. I don’t think all that much has changed. I know I am speaking from my own limited perspective but I think most of us, in America at least, are racists, We learned recently that even Atticus Finch is a racist! We see color. We have deep seated fears and mistrust about other people which are based on their color or nationalities. There isn’t much we can do about that. It’s what we think. The real problem is when we act on it, When we use our fears to hurt others, That’s where we can be blamed,
So, Christian racists, I want our next President to be a white man. I want him to be a white man so I can go back to my naivete. I want a white president so I can believe my words when I tell my brother-in-law he’s screwy. I want to be able to go back to a time when I was blissfully ignorant of what the guy a few pew rows back thinks about his fellow man. I want to go back and play pretend. So the only way I see to solve this, short of picking up our crosses and following Christ, is to go back to electing white guys.