Culture David Gushee: Christians, Conflict and Change Ethics Faith Opinion

Charlottesville: What I said from the pulpit yesterday

Flowers and other mementos are left at a makeshift memorial for the victims after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the day in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(RNS) — Readers: I continue my service as pastor of First Baptist Church of Decatur, a predominantly white Baptist congregation outside Atlanta. When I took the pulpit yesterday, this is the statement that I offered about what happened in Charlottesville this weekend and what it means. I am happy to report that the congregational response was overwhelmingly positive. That says much about the kind of congregation that it is my privilege to serve.

The statement:

Genesis 1 says that all people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28), the pinnacle of creation.

Genesis 4 teaches that we are our brothers’ keepers, and when human blood is shed it cries out from the ground to God.

Genesis 9 says that there must be an accounting whenever human beings harm or kill each other.

Psalm 8 says that human beings are just a little lower than the angels, cherished by God.

Luke 10 says that to inherit eternal life, we must love God and love people as ourselves; we must be neighbors to those around us.

Christian faith ought to be, and often has been, a very powerful force for human equality, for compassion, justice, love, and belief in the sacredness of every human life.

But especially since the days when European settlers came to the New World in the name of European Christian civilization, Christian faith very often has been distorted by an unholy religious-racial-civilizational pride.

European Christian settlers came to define themselves with the label “white” and to believe that they were by God’s design superior to other peoples, such as Africans and Native Americans (and others too, including Jews, who were objects of a longer hatred). They came to believe that they were free to subjugate, enslave, and often, kill these others, and free to believe and act as if others not like them (us) were inferior human beings.

Both European and American history are deeply marked by this ideology, which is best labeled “white” “Christian” supremacism. Recent decades of our history have been marked by powerful counter-pressures to repudiate this ideology in the name of a different vision, of equality, justice, and respect for all, of a multiracial society in which all are valued equally. I have spent much of my career attempting to advance this latter vision.

In Charlottesville yesterday, the forces of a resurgent white Christian supremacism converged to rally. They got what they wanted: national media attention and counter-protests by people representing the opposite agenda, some of whom were trained in peaceful nonviolence and others of whom were there to confront the protesters. Tensions ratcheted up and finally an assault by vehicle occurred with many casualties. Three people are dead, 34 injured.

I speak today to lament this hateful ideology, which is fundamentally contrary to Christian values but remains in our bloodstream for periodic resurgence. I lament yet another incident of ugly conflict, violence, and murder in our streets.

I declare that First Baptist Church Decatur utterly repudiates racism, and seeks to stand for biblical values of equality, justice, and respect for all. I pray that white supremacist Christian nationalism will be clearly repudiated and rejected by all responsible national leaders — and by all Christian people, in the name of Jesus Christ.

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David Gushee

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  • So we are going to allow racists to be labeled as Christians? It is time the whole of Christendom to state, as we hope Muslims and other religions would do when fanatics and haters warp a faith, that racist groups are not Christians. That by holding on to their evil beliefs they have cut themselves off from Christ. They, like other groups and faiths, cannot use God/Jesus as a means to legitimize their hate and violence. It is blasphemous. Let every Christian, pastor, preacher, priest, condemn their blasphemy, and state unequivocally that those who support or hold such beliefs are not Christians and therefore face condemnation until they repent and change their ways.

  • Well said. If that is Christianity I’m not sure what would describe my beliefs because those acts are a fornication of my beliefs.

  • Well David since your church is largely white you all must be racist too, or you’d have figured out how to integrate yourselves – or is it desegregate yourselves (harrumph! “integrate is so ’50’s and desegregate is so ’80’s – what’s the latest pc catchword? – is it inclusive? or is it diverse? I forget].
    Please, for the rest of us post your vision and goals and action plan to desegregate your church. Include benchmarks. Or is it just another “Do as I say not as I do,” lecture?
    If you REALLY wanted to demonstrate some cred you’d resign your cushy suburban church gig and go to the inner city and enter into the “struggle”.

  • Anyone who can speak of “both sides” at Charlottesville either needs their head examined or is a lying piece of crap neo-nazi/apologist for them. As it appears the only fatality/serious injuries were caused by an act of domestic terrorism by the racists. Making it worse is that they condoned such actions and applauded Cheeto for ignoring the incident entirely.

  • Hey Spuddie, congratulations sir! You and your friends at the PC Police Department got exactly what you wanted today.

    The AP says that President Trump gave a public statement today to “call out the (KKK-Nazi hate) groups by name” — but unlike the last time, he did so WITHOUT equally pointing to the clear and crazoid violence of the Alt-Left hate groups that were there. He didn’t even say the names of the two biggest Alt-Left offenders — Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

    He didn’t reveal their names, nor their violent deeds to the American public, although photos and news reports show that they were equally guilty as the the KKK-Nazi’s. All sides contributed to the loss of life. But now you got the one-sided PC narrative that you wanted. C’est la vie.

    By the way folks, if you look at Gushee’s 3rd paragraph from the bottom — the one that starts off “In Charlottesville yesterday” — you’ll see that HE knows there were violent left-wing, angry, hateful, bigoted, weaponized hate groups there confronting the Neo-Nazi’s. But HE doesn’t say their names either. Doesn’t denounce their violence either. One-sided PC narrative.

  • Except he did nothing of the sort. The Neo-Nazis congratulated Trump’s effort.

    From David Duke:
    “This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said
    Duke in video uploaded to Twitter by Indianapolis Star photojournalist
    Mykal McEldowney. “We are determined to take our country back. We are
    going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed
    in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to
    take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.””
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/david-duke-charlottesville-rally-trump_us_598f3ca8e4b0909642974a10
    [and every other news outlet, before you start going all “fake news” on me]

    “He didn’t reveal their names, nor their violent deeds to the American
    public, although photos and news reports show that they were equally
    guilty as the the KKK-Nazi’s.”

    None of the “extreme left” committed an act of domestic terrorism there or condoned them. You have no news reports or photos which show anything close to what you are claiming about them. Even the neo-nazis have no accounts of serious injuried at the hands of the counter protesters.

    You have vague accusations and absolutely no factual support from the news for your victim blaming. I have every account of the act of domestic terrorism all over the news, Trump ignoring it and David Duke applauding it.

  • Gushee brands himself as a “public intellectual”/pastor/professor, which means he doesn’t have to “produce” anything – he just gets to tell everyone else what they need to do. He is pastor of First Baptist church but he doesn’t tell you it is not the SBC – but is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The CBF are the disgruntled former-SBCers who were kicked out of their leadership positions back in the ’80’s-’90’s when the conservative SBC folks took back their denomination. The CBF got mad, took their marbles and went elsewhere. Good riddance. They were willing to stay in the SBC as long as they held the leadership positions but as soon as they were booted they left. LOL. Sore losers.

  • The greatest commandment?

    By God know your place, and put others in theirs with all your heart mind and soul.

    Thanks for the lesson.

  • YOu are welcome. LOL. Greatest Commandment absolutely – but sometimes Love hurts.
    Now GJ you should really reflect on the truth of what I said. Be tolerant and put yourself in others’ shoes. But perhaps the “truth” of what I said hit a little too close to your home.
    I taught in the urban core [read ghetto schools – not my term but the students’ term for their school] for 27 years. What has Gushee done – teach college, pastor a “predominantly” white church, be known as “a public intellectual”, and write articles about what others should do.
    Like I said:If you REALLY wanted to demonstrate some cred you’d resign your cushy suburban church gig and go to the inner city and enter into the “struggle”. And that goes for you too GJ.

  • 30+ years working side by side with the people you claim to have taught. Do not try to pull that b.s. on me.

  • LOL What “bs” are you talking about? You got heart burn that I called Gushee on his lack of cred. So what?
    And you “claim” to have worked with urban core people side by side for 30 years – you CAN’T pull that horse hockey on me. What did you do?
    You really shouldn’t take up someone else’s offense. But you prog libs are all alike – you squeal every time one of your guru’s are brought up short. LOL.

  • An important distinction made between comments on a political level and that on a religious level. Saw screenshots of prayer posts from a League of the South participant that made my skin crawl. And a nice point as to the expectation that the entire Muslim world publicly denounce terrorist attacks.

  • Hairy, I think I hear a hint of professional jealousy coming from you when it comes to Gushee. As for me I worked in the commercial tire business for over 30 years and had first hand exposure to people from all social economic backgrounds.

  • I was an English teacher in inner city middle and high schools and an administrator for 4 years in the same district so I worked with urban core parents as well as their children. You don’t believe me? I don’t care.

    And you worked in the commercial tire business? LOL! Hardly comparable, GWhiz.

    I have no idea why you think I am jealous – lacking of respect of a lily white pseudo intellectual who uses the pulpit as a platform to propagate his prog lib agenda – yes.
    The title of his essay: “Charlottesville: What I said from the pulpit yesterday.”
    Condescending and patronizing tone of voice from his predominantly white suburban Decatur church.

    Instead of the sermon title “What I Said…” how about “What God Says about Charlottesville”.

    So after he gave them a history lesson a la David Gushee about how bad their ancestors were [in fact drawing a straight line from their ancestors to the scum bag white racists], he said, “I am happy to report that the congregational response was overwhelmingly positive. That says much about the kind of congregation that it is my privilege to serve.”
    Oh, wasn’t that nice? You insulted their ancestors and they thought it was just swell.

    Is this what sociologists refer to white guilt?

    I can’t believe his congregation let him get away with that! LOL.

    But then his predominantly white congregation could experience a catharsis and go home feeling so much better about themselves. After all see how far they had come from their racist background. And just think – they never even had to step foot into an inner city church where they were the minority.

    Thanks DG for your arrogant self important essay.
    Two thumbs down on this nothingburger.

  • “Two thumbs down on this nothingburger”

    I ever I had a doubt about someone being an English teacher that line ends all debate. Please, please turn your prose away from me, your intellect too great for my blue collar mind.

  • Gwhizz, I resent you denigrating blue collar minds. Some of the smartest people I know are blue collar. My father was blue collar; my mother too. Neither were dummies. Please compare your intellect to something else more fitting – like a box of rocks. ;-D And I’m just kidding.
    You worked for 30 years with the public – I can respect that.

    And you’ve never heard the term “nothing burger” before? Well, I swan…

  • As always, this heathen thanks David Gushee for his forthright honesty and unequivocal stance for equality. It’s no wonder he’s so despised by Evangelicals. The silence from so many Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. to the neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists and their rally in Charlottesville is telling.

  • Yeah, you gotta respect someone who can use every pc word and hit every pc base in a single essay. ;-P
    So many words, so little actual content.

  • It is evident that your understanding of Christianity is deeply flawed. Do not tar the ancient faith with the accretions of misguided human cultural misperceptions. How about using such scripture as, “By their fruits you shall know them,” or “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew…etc..” Your phrase, “white Christian supremacism,” is a non-sequitur. The is no such thing as a white Christian supremacist. Such a creature does not exist. There are white supremacists and there are Christians, but there is no intersecting nexus. You need to define your terms more carefully and accurately.

  • Wish sandwich, yes. Nothing burger, nope. Box of rocks, yes. Well I swan, nope.
    It was more business to business dealings than it was dealing with the public. At the end of the day your dealing with people though, it does not matter if they are representing themselves, companies, or school districts.

  • No, if the leftist protestors were as equally guilty as the right-wing protestors, there would be several dead and seriously injured Nazis after an Antifa protestor rammed them with a car. There is a time and place for everything (Eccle. 3:1). The aftermath of a domestic terror attack is not the time to say, well, there was violence from the other side too.

  • Took it back, or took it over? The SBC conservative resurgence was a real thing, you can’t blame the more liberal members for leaving if they were, in your own words, kicked out.

  • As you called it: resurgence. And you know the SBC was very conservative until moderates (liberals) acquired political power and then little by little they appointed their political cronies to leadership positions. Their liberalism trickled down to the seminaries and then the seminaries began to teach liberal theology. The conservatives rebelled against the liberal agenda and took back their denomination. The libs were just fine to take the conservatives’ money, but when they were booted out of power they left. [The libs weren’t booted from membership just from their cushy jobs in which they got to tell conservatives what to do.] They liked to rule but they don’t like to serve. They formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – which is a joke. Btw as I recall the SBC is the only evangelical church that went from the brink of a complete liberal takeover back to a conservative church.

  • They certainly do, and I’m prepared to argue with them from scripture that they are either deceived or willfully ignorant. The terms used are mutually exclusive from a biblical perspective, and I’m prepared to defend that position to anyone.

  • No Arbustin, there’s only ONE guy, one individual, whose solo actions increase his personal and legal guilt above the three violent hateful armed gangs.
    That one guy is in jail, and Trump clearly supports him being locked up.

    But all the REST of the clowns (Antifa, BLM, Nazi-KKK) are indeed EQUALLY guilty of participating in and inciting violence — violence that led to one guy escalating over the top and grabbing a car as a weapon, as sometimes happens in violent public fights. None of the groups have clean hands on this.

    They all collectively acted a foolio — more specifically, like foolios who happened to be armed with every conceivable weapon from flying plastic bottles, to baseball bats to chemical agents to Semi-Automatic weapons to a Flamethrower (the ghetto version, as it were).
    So Trump IS evidence-based correct: Violence on ALL sides, blame on ALL sides.

  • No, Trump is not correct. No one is correct when calling Nazis fine upstanding people. None of these groups may have clean hands, that doesn’t mean they’re equally guilty. The Nazi and KKK marchers at that rally want to hang you from a tree and put me in ovens. Why you feel the need to defend them is a mystery to me. Also a mystery is your need to defend a president who, before the election, you considered the lesser of two evils. Now you go out of your way to say he’s doing a great job. Did something change?

  • “I swan” is used as a rough equivalent to “I do declare,” what linguists call an “exclamatory asseveration” of surprise, and it seems to have originated in northern England as a dialectical pronunciation (probably originally “Is’ wan”) of “I shall warrant,” meaning “I declare” or “I swear.” (A related form, “I swan to man,” is a euphemistic form of “I swear to God.”) Although the dialectical pronunciation that produced “I swan” from “I shall warrant” comes from England, “I swan” itself is considered a US phrase because it became so common here after it first appeared in the early 19th century (“I swan if it warn’t enough to make a feller dry to see the hogsheads of rum and molasses,” 1844). At about the same time, the related English dialect phrase “Is’ wan ye” (“I shall warrant you”) produced the US slang verb “swanny,” meaning “to swear or promise” (“‘Capt. Center, didn’t I tell you Van Buren was not the man?’ ‘Yes you did, I swanney’,” 1839). This “swanny,” by the way, is not related in any way to the Swannee River immortalized by Stephen Foster in his song “The Old Folks at Home.”
    http://www.word-detective.com/2013/09/i-swan/

    nothingburger
    something lame, dead-end, a dud, insignificant; especially something with high expectations that turns out to be average, pathetic, or overhyped.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nothingburger

    Just thought you’d like to know I wasn’t feeding you a load of road apples. ;-]

  • I never said that the KKK-Nazi’s were “fine upstanding people.”
    But I did say that Trump’s evidence-based assessments of…

    (1) Violence on all sides…….(2) Blame on all sides

    …in Charlottesville, are correct. Media-reported, video-driven correct.

    The three national extremist gangs are Equally Guilty of the tragic violence at Charlotteville, with the higher exception of the car driver. They ALL had their weaponized fun, and now there’s blood on each gang’s hands.

    Hey, I’d love to believe that BLM and Antifa are morally superior and physically safer for you and I, than the evil KKK-Nazi’s. Apparently you believe it. But that just ain’t true, Arb. Every bit of googling I’ve done on various BLM incidents and Antifa incidents, suggest otherwise. I might not get a rope and you might not get an oven, but those gangs got OTHER toys to give to us !!

  • Morally superior, probably not. Physically safer, likely, if only because they are less likely to own firearms. Be that as it may, it was your President that said there were many fine upstanding Klansmen and Nazis at the rally. You of course did not say this. But he’s not bright enough to come up with these ideas on his own. They’re being whispered to him by fascist apologists like Gorka and Bannon. What the EOP needs most right now is an Ivanka/Jared Bat-Signal. I can only assume they’re on vaca.

  • No shit Sherlock. My next door neighbor growing up, not sure his origin or where he heard it, but if my neighbor doesn’t refute alt right thinking he is wrong.

  • I can tell you for sure, you are NOT physically safer from getting killed or injured (vis-a-vis Nazi protests) when it comes to big-city-based BLM protests.
    Mm-mmm.

    Although BLM never claims or accepts responsibility for the slightest injury to anybody occurring during a protest or incident, it is absolutely clear from Ferguson on down, that Guys With Guns can be “out there somewhere.”

    There is a REAL undercurrent of hate and anger in those street protests that nobody should ignore. Just like that one white Nazi car driver who went over the top, you or me could be in the wrong place Arb, when a BLM guy grabs a gun.

    (And if either you or I are wearing a police uniform…the deal is sealed. They blindly hate the police– of ALL races and ALL genders — far worse than the Nazi’s do.)

    And don’t let Antifa off the hook either. They will stomp on you and me too. The sheer fury, anger, fire and chaos of their post-election DC protest should serve as Distant Early Warning for all of us.

  • The only movement that has any currency with me is Jesus’ movement.

    What is the Biblical teaching on race?
    Revelation 7: 9 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
    “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,…”

    People from every people group will be in heaven.

    Paul the Apostle said in Galatians 3:26 You are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, and there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    What did Jesus think of all the hate groups? He told the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate His belief:
    Luke 10:30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

  • Given your logic the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a democracy because they say they are.
    Naivete.

  • So the author is the wrong kind of Baptist therefore you are more righteous quoting your verses than he his?
    What is it about racism that you understand that qualifies you to denounce it with scripture where the original author is unqualified to share the same opinion?
    At the end of the day you have taken me on a merry go round ride to a place where you agree with what the author is calling for in the first place.
    What’s up with that anyway? Why do we Southern Baptist have to disagree with what we should agree with in the first place?

  • So many words so little content…
    And that goes for you too, GJ

    Want to walk into prison with me Monday night? Is that least of these enough? How about doing the job that the working poor does for a day? Not because it’s your job but when you tell someone I won’t ask you to do something I haven’t done it needs to be a truth they can believe.
    As a pastor is it David Gushee’s job to do that? Or is it his job to equip the saints to do it? I’m just guessing at what the Bible might say here.

    So many words so little content..and that goes for you too GJ. That was what you intended to say when you said that right? I do not want to mis represent you. As a pastor Mr Gushee needed to be put into his place, and me a guy dumb enough to agree with him, I needed to be put in my place also. Okay reviewed, I think I’ve got it.

  • Really, GWillikers, you’ve got to stop advertising that you’re dumb. People might start believing you. I don’t – but others may.
    And you still didn’t get my point to begin with – but you’ll have to re-read that for yourself.
    Now your feelings are hurt…what did you expect when you so rudely rebuked me for my original comment. I replied to you in kind and now you’re all sensitive. Put your big-boy pants on.
    And like I said before, “Don’t take up someone else’s offense.”

    As far as prisons go: I worked in one for a short while. And I have preached in homeless missions, too. So don’t try that shtick with me.
    LOL. Man up.

  • We know (because our resident atheists have told us so) that there are certain exceptions to the No True Scotsman fallacy. Atheists who do things that embarrass other atheists, for example, are not true atheists.

    Logic has nothing to do with it of course, but no doubt it’s the only “sane” conclusion. ?

  • I’ve never understood why the color of my skin or anybody else’s either has anything to do with anything. Or at least why it should.

  • Sorry about the pants. Everything passive aggressive was dirty.
    So your telling Mr Gushee and GJ to get real?
    Boy do I feel dumb.

  • Who is in charge of this physical ReAccounting, for those who love THEM and those who obviously don’t? and the hypocrites, consider that black nationalism is not as destructive as white nationalism. when they, are both idolatry.

    equality in this world that hates ELOHEEM and THEIR Son. all at, different levels of hatred really, really! now. with all the antichrists, claiming to be the only true church of christ. with no one church, true to ELOHEEM and/or THEIR Son.

    not one innocent person was involved, all claiming our side or another was innocent. falsely claiming it was the statues that got up and hurt everyone. when the statues, were more innocent and harmless than any one there. so that even choosing a side, makes you a prejudiced liar and idolater hating G-D.

    nobody, was there to defend ELOHEEM or THEIR Son. they were all there, to defend their own individual mental demon-ism of prejudiced choices. the ignorant alleged innocent masses does not matter, when it is driven by false extremism on either or all ends.

    you all wanted your antiG-D society, now you all whine and complain now that you can see what this is really like. bowing to everything, the devils have convinced you all is their best for you. without understanding the physical consequences of ignoring ELOHEEM and/or THEIR Son.

  • And be fair. 1 -Groups such as Black Lives Matter are no different. It is just as wicked and evil. 2 – There are millions upon millions of non racist white people out there that are tired of being lumped into the same pile as a handful of extremists

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