Pastors call out 'far-right Christian nationalism' as a source of 'white supremacist' violence
The United States suffered yet another act of white nationalist or white supremacist terrorism when, on Saturday, August 26, gunman Ryan Christopher Palmeter fatally shot three people (all of them Black) inside a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida before fatally shooting himself. Palmeter, according to authorities, had been posting deeply racist messages online.
In an article published by Salon on August 31, two Christian pastors — the Rev. Serene Jones and the Rev. Dr. Lakeesha Walrond — argue that "far-right Christian nationalism" is encouraging domestic terrorism in the U.S. and cite the Jacksonville massacre as the latest example. Jones is president of the Union Theological Seminary, while Walrond heads the New York Theological Seminary.
"This distorted Christianity is at the core of our nation's deep history of racism," Jones and Walrond warn. "Starting from the very beginning of European settlement, colonists used the Bible to claim Christian explorers had a divine right to seize lands that were not inhabited by Christians. They also argued that they had a godly duty to bring the Bible to native lands."
The pastors continue, "These 'Biblical' missions left fields of blood and fire behind them. Then, as colonists took over the South, Christianity became a lynchpin of slavery."
Jones and Walrond stress that "distorted uses of the Bible," past and present, have played a major role in racist violence.
"Keep moving through our history," Jones and Walrond lament, "and you'll see endless examples of purported Christians using the Bible for racist ends: Enforcing segregation, blocking civil rights movements, forbidding interracial marriage, creating a racist incarceration system, committing yet more acts of violence, and more. Fast-forward to today, and far-right Christians continue their hateful crusade."
The ministers continue, "They have supercharged their white supremacist rhetoric and pushed for policies that uplift white communities and denigrate Black and brown ones…. And the violence continues."
The Rev. Serene Jones and the Rev. Dr. Lakeesha Walrond's full Salon article is available at this link.
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