Racism: the man behind the curtain

Racism need not be intentional or malicious for it to be.
Monica Harrold, Coordinator of the the Race and Culture Task Force, African Heritage Network of the Free Methodist Church.

Recently, Franklin Graham, the son of legendary evangelist, Billy Graham openly and publicly questioned President Obama's professed faith.  He has since apologized for his questioning and backed off his critique of the President quite a bit.  He adds his voice to the hundreds of pastors, talk show hosts, and politicians who seek more to discredit and diminish this president that encourage or build up Christian people in their faith and in their mission.

Ronald Reagan, who is hailed by conservative Christians as the "Holy Grail" of presidents, never confessed to be an evangelical Christian.  Yet, few Christian conservative leaders took the time to question his beliefs, his alignment to classical Christianity, or the authenticity of his brief and relatively few statements regarding his personal faith.

I want to say something that many will find unsettling.  It may seem hard for some to swallow.  Here goes:

Many of the faith criticisms of President Obama have nothing to do with his politics, faith, program directives, or strategies, but are simply veiled expressions of racism.

Christian author Lisa Harper writes a brilliant blog looking at the failure of many White Christians to be able to see the authentic expressions of that are culturally different while being Biblically based.  Using the framework of Sociologists Emerson and Smith (Divided by Faith, 2001), she eloquently describes how many conservative evangelicals lack the ability (Emerson and Smith call it the cultural "tool kit") to understand how Biblical values are manifest in anything other than individualized, personal salvation.  There is an inability to understand the broad Biblical themes of justice, equity, and peace on systemic levels.

President Obama has confessed an evangelical faith, been part of an evangelical community of faith, and has espoused values consistent with that.  Now, in saying that, I am not saying that he, nor any person is perfect or that their faith is without blemish.  Only by the grace of God am I!  However, I am saying that the criticism of his faith, by Christians is based upon something else more insidious and ugly.  It stems from a desire to discredit him.  Why discredit him?  Its not just his politics, as Jimmy Carter was a devout Christian whose policies were disliked by the conservative movement.  The movement spent very little time trying to discredit President Carter's faith.

You see, to attack his faith, is to attack his credibility, his identity, his being.  It is the same reason that a recent Federal Judge in Montana sent out racists emails about Obama.  He admits, he does not like Obama personally.  Not his politics, not his programs, not his strategies or appointments, but him personally.  That dislike manifest itself in racism, the belief that the President's race makes him undeserving of the dignity and authority of the office.

I am ashamed of the Christian leaders who can not see their own complicity in the perpetuation of racism.  I believe that all Americans have the right to critique and challenge his policies, procedures, and strategies, but it is unprecedented that Christian people who persistently and maliciously seek to malign his name in this way.

I recognize that some people will read this a vehemently disagree but I think its time that healing begins within the family of God, and it begins by first pointing out disease and disorder.

I pray (Using David Platt's phrase from "A radical Ideal") that the people of God, in the spirit of God, equipped with the word of God, would impact this nation for the Glory of God, and that extends to my President as well.

Praying for healing today,

Pastor M Traylor