The Highlander Center, one of the most important retreats for social activism, had a major fire over the weekend. It was one of MLK’s favorite places to decompress. https://t.co/JE6M86XuXt
— Ray Winbush (@rwinbush) April 1, 2019
— Kathryn Julian (@kjulian_history) March 29, 2019
“How can ‘Christians’ support the current pResident?” is a question we’ve all heard over and over again. I, however, think it’s the wrong question, or at least a question that is asked without benefit of a particular type of historical background. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to provide some of that background through stories of past and current “unholy alliances” with the hope that they point to a path for recognizing the tactics used, re-centering conversations, and reclaiming our right to weigh in on issues of morality (whether defined as “Christian” or not).
Barbara Jordan was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Texas and the first African-American elected to her state’s senate.
Rep. Barbara Jordan was not only a trailblazer but a great American and a great advocate for both small d and big D Democratic principles.
Speeches can contain words to live by, words that call us to action for an important cause and words that connect to our deepest feelings about fairness and compassion.
Last week, I wrote about the early history of the Spiritual Mobilization organization, a group whose activities were largely limited to pamphleteering. Although Spiritual Mobilization at one point sent tracts to more than 70,000 pastors across the United States, in 1944, only 400 ministers were formally affiliated with the group. With the influx of corporate funding and the addition of staff with one foot in the corporate world, the focus would shift to actively enlisting spiritual leaders in communities (although Spiritual Mobilization was overwhelmingly Protestant Christian, Jewish and Catholic leaders were a small portion of their ranks) to join with the corporate financial backers in defeating the New Deal. (Source material is One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse, unless otherwise stated.)
Several months ago, I mentioned in a comment that the story about the addition of the words, “under God” to the pledge of allegiance was more nuanced and more detailed than most of us know; it’s a story that starts well before the Eisenhower years. I’ve been wanting to do a post about the topic ever since, but it’s a difficult topic to write about, because it’s so far-ranging and over so many decades. In his book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, author Kevin Kruse spends the first 64 pages laying out the groundwork before even getting to the 1950s, so I knew one post would be either too superficial or insufficient. I needed to find the right “hook”; today this tweet gave me the impetus to start:
Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
When Individual 1 tweets about religion in America, it’s obvious that it doesn’t come from a deep, faith-based place, and that’s true of so much of the public religiosity in our country…and has been for decades. Today I’m writing about one of the groups that masked their politics with religion and helped bring about the rise of the “Religious” Right and the myth of the Christian nation.
Iowa Rep. Steve King is facing criticism after he defended white nationalism and white supremacy in an interview. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said to The New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” (bolding mine) Iowa Rep. Steve King under fire for remark on white nationalism and white supremacy
I haven’t read the full NYT interview, because I avoid the NYT like the plague. So when the news of Rep. King’s abhorrent comments came out, I initially only heard about the first part of his comment and not about the second half, bolded above. When I finally did, it was a full-blown smack-my-head moment. It is obvious to me, and to anyone not invested in white nationalism, that the reason he (and most of us) learned about the merits of “our” history in the classroom is because our country is built on the existence and promotion of white supremacy. In previous years (especially pre-2008), much of the language and goals were coded, but it wasn’t always that way any more than it is now. Perhaps Rep. King would have benefited from reading some of the primary sources which make explicit the embrace of white supremacy as a guiding principle. I doubt knowing history — unprotected, unhidden, and unvarnished — would stop Rep. King from being an out-and-proud racist at this point, but one can hope for others.