Trumpism: Black Americans Can Never Be American Christians

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Let’s turn to an event that’s rocking Trump’s base. It happened yesterday when Christianity Today, which was founded by Billy Graham in the 1950s, and is considered to still have a powerful presence in the evangelical world, called for Trump’s removal.

Mark Galli: “The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

For anyone on the left, nothing in this editorial is shocking. It’s obvious that Trump is corrupt, and that his politics and policies can hardly be called moral in any normal sense: separating children from parents, cutting food stamps to the poor, generally siding with the interests of a class of people who have so much wealth that their entry to heaven is restricted to the eye of a needle.

No, what has caught many on the left by surprise is that the criticism came from a writer whose publication is in the mainstream of a religious movement that massively supports the president no matter what he says and does (grabbing pussy, bonking porn stars, whatever). Over 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump, and many GOP representatives have very publicly interpreted the impeachment of the president as the persecution of a Christ-like Christian.

Trump could not let this CT article pass in silence. He had to say something. Today, he fired tweets that claimed CT is a leftist rag, and that Christians should support his presidency 100% because, without him, the US would be run by “a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns…” He also pointed out that CT is doing poorly. But what is really interesting in all of this is that Trump is clearly speaking only to white American Christianity, and not to other the Christianities of this nation, such as that of black Americans.

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The idea that Trump has even read a page of the magazine is laughable. Anyone with anything like a brain knows that Trump has zero to no relationship with the “Old One,” as Einstein called Him. Trump only sees this: Evangelicals are white and numerous. This is why his response to the CT’s editorial is directed solely to that group of Americans. As for black American Christianity? It does not exist. It is not even Christianity.

But a large section of Black America appears to be as religious as white evangelicals, but they largely do not support Trump. How is this possible? They read the same book, eat the same flesh of Jesus, drink the same blood of Jesus, and pray at night to the same holy Father. But after praying, eating Jesus, drinking blood, they look up and do not see the same president. Black Christians vote overwhelmingly to the left. Indeed, only 3 percent of black American women support Trump.

And these women are in a group that’s “more likely than the overall public to be Christian.”

Pew Research: Nearly eight-in-ten black Americans (79%) identify as Christian, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. By comparison, seven-in-ten Americans overall (71%) say they are Christian, including 70% of whites, 77% of Latinos and just 34% of Asian Americans. Meanwhile, about seven-in-ten blacks are Protestant, compared with less than half of the public overall (47%), including 48% of whites, roughly a quarter of Latinos and 17% of Asian Americans.

Indeed, Black Americans “are less likely than the U.S. public as a whole to identify as religiously unaffiliated – that is, as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular.'” And yet they do not support Trump.

Why is this so? Which Christianity, black or white, is correct, closer to God? I want to suggest that black American Christianity exposes what white evangelical Christianity actually is, namely a potent form of American patriotism. Trump’s association of guns with Jesus was no accident. He knows exactly the button he is pressing: you are white, you are patriotic, never forget this. So, it’s not really about Jesus and His sayings (something of great importance, for historical reasons, to the black church). It’s about a conception of American identity that begins, first and foremost, with the white man. Anything else beyond this point is for the “nonbelievers.” According to this standard, Christianity Today, which probably feels Pence much, much more, than Trump, is no longer Christian. According to this standard, blacks are not patriotic.

Who is Christianity in the USA? According to the state religion, as presented by Fox, a Jesus that does not see the white man as fundamental, is not Christian. This also goes with Spanish-speaking Americans. Their Christianity does not matter, as has been made clear by the treatment brown people at the US border. You are with God if you’re with the whitest man in the White House. That’s Christianity today.

I want to dedicate this post to the late and great James Cone, whose seminars I attended while in college in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. I still keep his 1969 book Black Theology near my bed to this day.