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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/17/18

White Evangelicals Stifle Values For Trump

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The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the Susan D. Morgan Distinguished Professor of Religion at Goucher College in Baltimore, posed a question in an article she wrote for Sojourners:

"What values were really at stake for the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for a presidential candidate {in 2016} who uses crass language and admits to engaging in coarse behavior, and whose campaign was marked by vitriolic hatred of various people, particularly people of color?"

Brown Douglas served as Professor of Theology at Goucher College from 2000 through 2018. She gave up this post this month and is now the first African American woman to become Dean at an Episcopal Divinity School (EDS).

The new dean is also the author of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (book cover above). Her book was written in the aftermath of the racial upheaval following the Sanford, Florida murder of teen-ager Trayvon Martin, on February 26, 2012.

Alice Woodson described the Brown Douglas book for Religious Studies Review as "a thoughtful and provocative analysis of the Trayvon Martin story and subsequent deaths of other unarmed African Americans at the hands of police brutality." Woodson writes:

"Douglas, a mother of a teenage son, 'highlights a mother's perspective' throughout the book while contrasting her pain with a sociohistorical analysis of what she has named America's stand-your-ground culture."

Brown Douglas does just that in her Sojourners essay, noting that the value proposition of the Trump campaign "was made clear in the campaign's 'Make America Great Again' vision. This mantra tapped into America's defining Anglo-Saxon myth and revitalized the culture of white supremacy constructed to protect it."

She continues:

"The Anglo-Saxon myth was introduced to this country when America's Pilgrim and Puritan forebears fled England, intent on carrying forth an Anglo-Saxon legacy they believed was compromised in English church and society with the Norman Conquest in 1066.

"These early Americans believed themselves descendants of an ancient Anglo-Saxon people, 'free from the taint of intermarriages,' who uniquely possessed high moral values and an 'instinctive love for freedom.' Their beliefs reflected the thought of first-century Roman philosopher Tacitus (quoted above), who touted the unique superiority of an Anglo-Saxon people from the ancient woods of Germany.

"In his treatise Germania, Tacitus describes these Germanic tribes as a people for whom 'good [moral] habits' were more effectual than 'good laws' and argues that they possess a peculiar respect for individual rights and freedom."

Brown Douglas notes that Germania has been called "one of the most dangerous books ever written." His words were used, she writes, "to undergird horrific movements, such as the Nazis' monstrous program for 'racial purity.'" She continues:

"Considering themselves descendants of these mythic Anglo-Saxon people, the Puritans and Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic with a vision to build a nation that was politically and culturally -- if not demographically -- true to their 'exceptional' Anglo-Saxon heritage.

"They saw this as a divine vision. They traced their Anglo-Saxon heritage through the ancient woods of Germany back to the Bible. They considered themselves the 'new Israelites,' carrying forth a godly mission. Central to this mission was building not simply an Anglo-Saxon nation but a religious nation -- one that reflected the morals and virtues of God, which in their minds were synonymous with the unsullied ways of their freedom-loving Anglo-Saxon ancestors."

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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