The Religious Right, Theocracy, and White Supremacy RACISM WILL RULE

Article excerpt

Many people have asserted that spirituality must be at the center of any serious effort to uplift the black community. Some black conservatives, such as noted author and scholar Glen Loury, believe that black salvation lies with the Religious Right. But what would America be like for blacks if the Religious Right successfully established a theocracy?

Progressive religionists have long been in the forefront of struggles for human rights, church-state separation, and other worthwhile pursuits. But more often than not, they have tried to solve the problems that were created and/or exacerbated by their reactionary counterparts. For example, progressive religionists have opposed slavery and sexism. If not for the fact that the Bible sanctions these evils, however, such problems would at least be much easier to combat. Ironically, religious progressives continue to edify a sacred text that is often hostile to progressive causes.

Historically, white, reactionary Christians have consistently opposed humane efforts to liberate black people. Fundamentalists used several passages from the Bible to support slavery (e.g., 1 Timothy 6:14) and to beat slaves (Luke 12:47-48). Indeed, as the great nineteenth-century freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll observed: "The Bible was the real auction block upon which the Negro stood during slavery." Books such as Forrest G. Wood's The Arrogance of Faith and Larry E. Tise's Proslavery make this point abundantly clear.

The Southern Baptist Convention began in 1845 for the purpose of defending slavery. That same year, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established for the same reason. During and after the war, many white Southern clergymen argued against freedom for blacks. They maintained that Southern whites lived better when slavery was legal. They taught that Southern whites were intellectually superior to blacks and morally and spiritually superior to Northern whites. As James Hill writes in "How We Got the Bible Belt" (FREE INQUIRY, Winter 1991/92, p. 37):

The three Southern Evangelical churches [Southern Methodists, Southern Baptists, and Southern Presbyterians] achieved great success with this message, and by 1890 they accounted for 95 percent of all Southern church members. And their heritage lives on. Today we are still confronted with Southern Evangelicals who claim that belief in the literal truth of the Bible, the subordination of women, the physical abuse of children, and a narrow view of the role of the state as merely a system of criminal justice have all been ordained by God. And none of them will acknowledge--nor do many even remember--that their religion arose from the theological defense of slavery.

During the Civil Rights movement, Religious Right leaders such as Jerry Falwell railed against integration. And like his religious counterparts in South Africa, Falwell argued in defense of the white, minority government during the days of Apartheid. For example, Falwell debated Jesse Jackson on ABC's "Nightline" in the mid-80s, arguing for "constructive engagement" with the South African regime.

Some influential right-wing religionists have embraced the racist aspects of creationism. Henry Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, fosters the "myth of Ham" (Genesis 9. 22-27). According to this legend, the descendants of Ham, the biblical son of Noah, were cursed with servitude because Canaan, the son of Ham, saw Noah drunk and nude. The Hamites--especially blacks--are regarded as less religious, intelligent, and philosophical than whites. This myth was especially popular in antebellum days.

The aptly named Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is one of the most controversial groups of the Religious Right. Like their predecessor, the White Citizens Council, it has promoted the idea that the white race is the crowning achievement of humanity. The Council has hosted such powerful political figures as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and U. …