Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"Antebellum Evangelicalism" Has Theological Roots in Slavery

The thoughtfulness  of Southernleveller’s  Politicized White Fundamentalists of the U.S. Religious Right vs. "True Evangelical Faith"  inspired me to write this short diary to clarify the Evangelicalism of the likes of Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins.  His diary described:
. . . giving “mulligans” to Drumpf’s adulteries and other immorality and defending him as “godly."  These folk, who also supported pedophile Roy Moore, are not “evangelical,” which means “good news centered” (referring to the good news about Jesus of Nazareth).….. 
 I even decided to give this particular religious brand a name: “Antebellum Evangelicalism”.  It was in fact the  Southern Evangelical movement that broke away from the Northern movement in the early 1800’s over the issue of abolitionism.  Remember, mainstream Evangelicals originating in Europe were profoundly against slavery.   One of their most well-known spiritual leaders was John Newton, the slave trader who had made that extraordinary conversion experience and later penned the beautiful and sublime “Amazing Grace”.  This is who the Evangelicals were.  The Black Evangelical movement in the U.S. represents the legacy of this spiritual tradition.
But Southern white Evangelicals broke away and created their own theology.  It was one of riffling through the Bible looking for literal citations of slavery from societies of 2,000 years ago. It did so in order to claim that Christianity justified slavery.  These churches repudiated “love thy neighbor” Christianity for any verbiage they ripped out of context in order to justify the existence of bondage  in ancient society. This presumably meant that God justified the institution.
Recent DNA evidence also reveals that what we politely call “chattel” bondage was actually sexual slavery in the antebellum South. Sexual assault and forced impregnation of female slaves was endemic to the institution. Slave owners, some of whom were clergy, sold their mulatto daughters to brothels when finances were tight.  This thriving trade was known as the “fancy girl market”. 
The moral authority (or lack thereof) in such a system was one of patriarchal amoralism. The patriarch defined reality. Right and wrong, truth, reality, versus fake was a function of the patriarch’s declaration.  If  he said that a mulatto child with the same color eyes and dimples was not his, then his wife demanded apologies from anyone who would have besmirched his honor.  The patriarch decided which sex acts the community would condemn as scandalous, according to his political or personal agenda. Truth was defined according to the dictates of the patriarch.
In searching for answers to the behavior and thinking of Trump’s supporters, a  person can quote the Bible if they wish. But patriarchal amoralism, not the Bible, not Christian teachings,  is the foundation of this Evangelical sect.  After slavery, it justified the lynching of blacks, segregation, and the vile hatred that we see being fanned today in such churches.  Being patriarchal and authoritarian, it has never in America’s history supported nor nurtured the values of democracy.  Thus  Its “religious” leaders convey the theological values needed to prepare its communities for fascist rule.  This thread has always existed within American society.  It is not new. It is not superficial. It will not disappear. America made a moral compromise at the beginning of its existence. Every century or so, the reality of it gets thrown like acid into our faces. 
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