Dear Tanenbaum Community –
Crosses, Shofars, and Christian flags were carried into the halls of Congress yesterday, as we witnessed Christian white supremacy at its purest and most dangerous. So what does it mean when the followers of someone who preached about “turning the other cheek” and “loving thy neighbor” stage an armed coup of an entire branch of government to disrupt the democratic process?
Many are “stunned” and “shocked” at the events which unfolded on the steps and in the halls of our Capitol yesterday, but we need to stop being surprised that white supremacists are among the most violent elements in America, so we can actually address and end the brutality.
While Christianity itself is not reducible to what happened yesterday in the nation’s capital, this invasion does add a chapter to the history of white Christian supremacy in the United States. Many faith leaders from around the world condemned these events and called for an end to the violence. However, this display of white power, and cultural and religious misappropriation is not without precedent. These practices have histories rooted in this country’s founding.
If we want to create a world that promotes justice and builds respect for all people, including those whose religious beliefs differ from our own, then we have to understand where these tactics come from, how they function, and why they still exist.
Below are resources to help better understand the ways in which white Christian privilege is impacting the ongoing events of the day:
- Mark Fowler with Dr. Khyati Joshi: Professor of education at Fairleigh Dickinson University, discusses Christian privilege, normativity, and hegemony in the United States.
- Mark Fowler with Robert P. Jones: Ph.D., CEO and Founder, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) explores the relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy. Drawing on compelling historical analysis and Dr. Jones’ own research, this conversation illustrates the ways in which the long and fraught intersection of race and religion in the U.S. continues to shape the present.
White Supremacy: An Overview: A comprehensive fact sheet about the varied white supremacist movements and groups.
Religious & Spiritual Approaches to Anti-Racism: Religious and spiritual communities are actively engaged in anti-racism work. This fact sheet highlights organizations and initiatives working to move the needle toward justice.
We have to interrogate the structures that maintain white Christian supremacy in our houses of worship, in our schools, in our communities, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our health care systems, and most importantly, in ourselves. Our democracy needs us not to be surprised by the events of yesterday.
Rev. Mark Fowler
Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee- Getty Images