The Black Community in Alabama Saved Us From White Evangelicals
By John Pavlovitz, December 13, 2017 (updated December 14, 2017)
As news of Doug Jones’ victory came in last night I initially rejoiced.
Watching one of the reddest places in America turn blue, and seeing voters there reject one of the most reprehensible candidates in recent memory certainly seemed like cause for celebration. It felt in that moment like a victory for the nation, for the state of Alabama, and for the Resistance movement pushing back for a year against the bigotry of this Administration and badly needing confirmation that our efforts were bearing fruit.
Trump was Tweet silent and reportedly furious.
Steve Bannon was all dressed up for a nazi afterparty that never happened.
Roy Moore was quoting Psalm 40 and blaming the horse he rode in on.
Equality, Diversity, and Justice had won the day.
A bit of light was breaking through.
There was reason for dancing again.
I joined in that dancing.
Then I looked at the numbers, and the party was quickly over:
68 percent of white voters chose Roy Moore.
96 percent of black voters chose Doug Jones.
63 percent of white women voted for Roy Moore.
98 percent of black women voted for Jones.
80 percent of self identified White Evangelicals voted for Roy Moore.
In other words, black voters saved us all from white Evangelicals. By simply voting their consciences, in ways that may not have intended, they did something redemptive for all of us.
They almost singlehandedly spared us from a vile, hateful monster of a man—inexplicably, one that white Bible-thumping, God-is-love-ing, family valuing, professed followers of Jesus overwhelmingly embraced—again.
Just as they’d done in November of 2016, 81 percent of caucasian born-again Christians stepped into a voting booth and affirmed a man whose racism, homophobia, misogyny, and contempt for people of color was on full display in the weeks that led them there.
Excuse my language—but what the hell, white Evangelicals?
Alabama just gave you a chance to course correct from the God-awful decision you made a year ago.
You had a golden opportunity to stand in solidarity with marginalized people and to remind them that this is where Jesus would be.
You received an early Christmas gift in the form of an openly racist, brazenly homo/transphobic, historically predatory candidate—who you could and should have opposed as a no-brainer.
And to it all you said, “No thanks, we’re good.”
With his almost cartoony, nonsensical buffoonery, Roy Moore lobbed you all up a softball to at least ceremonially denounced bigotry—and 81 percent of you struck out swinging.
And you wonder why the Church is shrinking.
You wonder why people are fleeing organized Christianity in droves.
You wonder why more and more Americans see the term Evangelical as something devoid of Jesus and more akin to terrorism.
There will be all sorts of rationalizations proffered today and in the coming weeks; ways Bible Belt Christians will justify their vote, excuses evangelists and pastors will make, sermons about a perverse culture, conversations about whether people believed Roy Moore’s accusers—all in an effort to escape the obvious: White Evangelical Christianity in America is horribly broken and it may not be fixable. It is an exclusionary, divisive, deeply racist presence in a nation that wants and needs an expression of religion that doesn’t further divide an already terribly fractured people.
Those of us who are white and come from a Christian tradition, need to admit that White Evangelicalism is now the thing most antithetical to the message of Jesus.
We need to openly lament and condemn the supremacy embedded in it because the Jesus of the Gospels did.
We need to oppose it because it is now the very Roman Empire that Christ spent his days on the planet pushing back against.
Yes, Alabama is reason for celebration, but it isn’t only that.
It is an occasion to grieve the racism that still infects the blood stream of the White Evangelical Church.
It is a moment to lament how the message of Christ drifted in 2,000 years, from radical love for the poor and marginalized—into a haven for gun-waving bigots on horseback.
It is a moment to deeply express gratitude to the black community at large for affirming the things White Evangelicals should, but simply refuse to: compassion, equality, diversity, justice.
Alabama shouldn’t even have been this close, given the overt racism on display and the ugliness of the candidate.
Sadly, far too many white people still haven’t figured out that diversity is this country’s greatest asset—and that for Christians it should be a flat-out non negotiable.
Perhaps the most startling graphic in the Washington Post’s breakdown was this one:
White born-again Christians—and everyone else.
Everyone else seems to get it.
Everyone else seems to have this “love your neighbor as yourself” thing down.
Everyone else seems to realize how much White Evangelicals have lost the plot.
As a white Christian living and serving in the Bible Belt, someone who is trying to excavate Jesus from the ugly stuff he has been buried in, today I gladly stand alongside Everyone Else.
Thank you to the black community for representing Everyone Else—when white Evangelicals again refused to.