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There is a reason, perhaps less in importance but perhaps just as insidious, why Christian communities of faith need to stop in their tracks and post a new life-sign about the end of racism in the Church. That reason is the growing, venomous, and potentially culture-crushing development in the USA of White Nationalism.
Perhaps you don’t know about it, and I confess I didn’t until I read Vanderbilt University’s Law School professor, Carol M. Swain’s book, The New White Nationalism in White America. Her piece of research that is also well-written (and these are rarely combined) investigates the growth of white hate groups in the USA. I admit, the book frightens me.
Here’s the view of white nationalists: “Contemporary white nationalists draw upon the potent rhetoric of national self-determination and national self-assertion in an attempt to protect what they believe is their God-given natural right to their distinct cultural, political, and genetic identity as white Europeans” (16).
Three factors provoke white nationalists in the USA today: affirmative action (and Swain is about as level-headed as anyone I’ve read on this topic), immigration policies that are driving the inner city African-American community, especially males, into unemployment, crime rates — and these are enveloped in the ideology of political correctness (which drives legitimate discussions underground). (I don’t know much about the immigration problem, except that I know it is serious.)
White nationalists play the diversity card insidiously — arguing that they are entitled to their ideology. Identity politics is the name of the game. Hate groups are all over the USA (she has a map of them on pp. 78-79).
“What we need to do,” she says, “is to refashion a collective identity that can transcend race and therefore thwart our increasing drift toward tribalism” (252). What she is saying here is exactly what Jesus says in the Kingdom vision: Who are we? We are God’s Kingdom people who are called to perform the gospel in our world for the good of others and the world. A clear calling for the Christian of the USA is a summons to create an alternative community with a collective identity where racism is is a category that once was.
Swain believes the gospel has the power to create that alternative society. Here these words: “Once a devotee to New Age religions, I have become a born-again Christian water-baptized by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ according to the dictates of Acts 2:38” (420-421). She’s also seen it all, for she is an African American who, like the Delphic oracle, knows whereof she speaks.
Tomorrow I will detail her recommendations, which are numerous — and numerous within what I would call a Kingdom vision of the gospel.