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"They Segregated Churches from Christianity" - Monday Moment - November 6, 2023

Happy Monday, friends! Today we continue drawing inspiration from Bishop Gene Robinson’s address at Sewanee on October 6, 2023.[1] Gene said, “Number three, your generation's work and mine too is to secure democracy in this country. People of faith and people of goodwill believe in democracy because more than any other form of government, it seeks the most good for the most people. At its finest, democracy is a government of do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But white Christian nationalism is snake oil and it's poisoning this democracy and undermining it at every turn.”

Many of you have read my past reflections on Christian nationalism or heard me speak about them on podcasts. The use and even perversion of Christian beliefs to support slavery, oppress people of color, subjugate women, and attack the LGBTQIA+ community have long been a ploy of people in power in the United States and elsewhere. At their best argued and most thoroughly constructed, "They segregated Southern money from the poor whites; they segregated Southern churches from Christianity; they segregated Southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything.”[2]

Contemporary Christian nationalism, however, goes further, bastardizing the Bible and the person of Jesus. Christian nationalists seek to recreate Jesus in their own image and use a Bible that they neither understand nor have properly studied to give evidence to their claims. And so rather than a good shepherd who tends his sheep and lovingly searches for the one who is lost, Jesus supports guns, hoarding wealth for those who have “earned” it, and making sure that only the “right” kind of people get in.

Having reconstructed Jesus and the Bible, Christian nationalism begins to target mostly white adults who are already primed by myths that immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people are taking away not only their jobs and their money, but also the beautiful and patriotic America where good Christian people (read: “white people”) lived in idyllic harmony with each other. They long for a simpler time, a better time without acknowledging that every generation, every era, every epoch of human history has struggled with something and looking to an idealized, sanitized past is just as dangerous as forgetting the past. We have reached a point in our present where Christian nationalism has invaded our churches, our schools, our halls of government, and even our ballot boxes.

Bishop Gene is right to call Christian nationalism snake oil. It may feel like balm to some now, but it will be a bomb to all of us in time.

Where have you seen Christian nationalism show up? What are you doing to stop it?

Let us pray in the words of Dr. King which still speak to us today: “Let us therefore continue our triumph and march to the realization of the American dream. Let us march on segregated housing until every ghetto of social and economic depression dissolves [all people] live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Let us march on…schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past and [all people] study side by side in the socially healing context of the classroom. Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. March on poverty until no starved [person] walks the streets of our cities and towns in search of jobs that do not exist. Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, [local school boards], state legislatures, and the United States Congress [people] who will not fear to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God. Let us march on ballot boxes until all over [the United States] God's children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor. For all of us today the battle is in our hands. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways to lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. We must keep going.”[3] Amen.

Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.



[1] If you haven’t read the three most recent Monday Moments, I’d encourage you to go read those because they provide context for this reflection. You can always find all the Monday Moments at [2] Martin Luther King, Jr., “How Long? Not Long,” March 25, 1965. [3] King, 1965; with apologies to Dr. King for updating a bit of his language.


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