Saved and Prejudiced?

As I type this, a certain emotion is rising in me. That emotion is frustration, probably leaning more toward anger. The root cause of my frustration is ethnocentrism and racism. More specifically, their presence in the church. Before I go on to tell you exactly why I am so frustrated, I think it would be worthy to have clear definitions of each.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own culture. Ethnocentrism often entails the belief that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important and/or that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Within this ideology, individuals will judge other groups in relation to their own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity and unique cultural identity.

Racism, by its simplest definition, is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. People with racist beliefs might hate certain groups of people according to their racial groups.

Surprisingly, these are very similar in nature. The only difference listed is racism has hatred for other races.

Now that definitions have been provided, I will share with you why I am feeling the way I am. I feel this way due to several conversations I’ve had with people, who happen to be black and professing Christians, about the Presidential election and my stance against Barack Obama.

And because of my stance, on two separate occasions, my race and my “love” for my race has been called into question. Both instances were due to misunderstood comments I made about slavery, the history of the Republican Party and about how many ignorant votes are going to be cast for Obama by blacks simply because he’s black. By ignorant I mean people who are casting their votes for Obama without the slightest knowledge of his policies.

For the record, their comments toward me didn’t frustrate me.  Highly sensitive issues like politics tend to draw out comments rooted in emotionalism rather than objectivity, so I can overlook that.  However, what frustrates me is their attitude toward race concerning the election. Those attitudes are ethnocentric and racist. Need we be reminded of the horrendous fruits of these 2 sins? (i.e. Rwanda, slavery, Black Power, The Holocaust, etc.)

So it boils down to this : Is it right for professing Christians to be ethnocentric or racist?

The answer should seem obvious, but many believers are oblivious to either or both of these issues or are trying to justify these feelings.

Without going into unnecessary detail, the implications of ethnocentrism and racism does nothing to promote the true gospel. In fact, they are stumbling blocks to revealing the character of God and obeying the Great Commission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…

(Matthew 28:19)

God has created all tribes, tongues, people and nations and as His diverse “man” (human race) created His image (Gen. 1:26-27), by virtue, all of humanity deserves to be treated with dignity. But even more so as redeemed sinners from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:9) and part of a new race (Eph.2:14), we are to put away preferential or exclusionary attitudes in every aspect of our lives, even in the voting booth.

If you’re voting for or not voting for a particular candidate based on his skin color, you’re exhibiting traits of ethnocentrism or racism. Does any part of your life reflect ethnocentrism or racism? Does that point to the truth, beauty and love of Jesus Christ?

Grace & Peace,

d.

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3 thoughts on “Saved and Prejudiced?

  1. hey dave:

    there appears to be an inherent assumption on your part here that i’d call into question: it’s that people who are voting for senator obama because of his skin color are doing so because of a belief in the inherent superiority (see your definitions) of him based on that one attribute. i’m against skin color being the reason anyone would or would not vote for another, since flesh-hue has nothing at all to do with one’s ability to perform on that job, but it should at least be understood that what such people are doing is NOT a PROACTIVE “i’m voting for him because he shares my skin color and everyone knows we black folks are superior beings” but a REACTIVE “i’m voting for him because black folks in america were legally treated as subhuman from 1619 until 1965 and it’s about time that we be given opportunities never afforded us before since we’re just as capable as anyone else.” such folks don’t suffer from ethnocentrism (if anything, they tend to undermine their own efficacy because they, like most historically oppressed people-groups, tend to look through the eyes of the dominant ethnic group, which isn’t theirs at all) or racism (hence their reactive stance, not a proactive one).

    now, those who are voting AGAINST him because of flesh-hue DO suffer from the aforementioned vices. ethnocentrism, because their outlook tends to start with the efficacy of their own ethnicity, not to mention an antiquated perspective of black folks that, even on the old days, was misguided; and racism, because of the belief in the inferiority of others based solely on the color of skin.

    now, clearly, those who would not offer real REASONS why they’d vote for someone (or who would criticize your choice, for which our ancestors were often hung and scorched over firewood) are misguided and i actually feel pity for them. i just wanted to clear up the issue of motives.

    (sorry for my caps … there’s no “bold” feature in the “comments” section!)

  2. Thanx, Eve. Thanx for sparking further thought in me on this subject and it looks like I might feature my reply as a separate post! I think it will be interesting. Thanx for thinking, sis!

    d.

  3. Hey Guys:

    If I may :), I’d like to chime in with a response to sister Eve’s insights as to “other motivations” that may have been driving black people (even Christians) to vote for Brother President Obama! Just more food for thought:)

    Sister Eve said:
    REACTIVE “I’m voting for him because black folks in America were legally treated as subhuman from 1619 until 1965 and it’s about time that we are given opportunities never afforded us before since we’re just as capable as anyone else.”

    I totally see that as valid and one reason why I’ve not been up tight when a Christian person tells me they voted for Obama. Although, my heart takes a dip–if that same person tells me they absolutely disapprove of homosexual marriage or abortion while maintaining staunch support for a man who has a strong record of supporting these things.

    For now a diagnostic question needs to be posed, and that is, where is your total allegiance? I’m treading very carefully here not to make sweeping statements or haughty judgments about people I’ve had little to no interactions with to see evidence of fruit. As I, too, have proven to be embarrassingly blind and double minded, and on some things just proudly “selective,” relative to obeying God. So I’m really empathetic in this critique–lest I fall.

    So even as innocent as, “hey its about time, we made it, we finally get respect in the country that stripped us of our dignity for so long,” there are still significant reasoning problems with any person voting under that conviction, while at the same time, claiming to hold true to biblical values like the integrity of marriage (man & woman) and the sanctity of life.

    It looks the same as basic ethnocentrism to me. And worse, it looks like elevating race above significant biblical mandates or the centrality of Christ in the life of the believer. But for the sake of semantic integrity to the definition cited in the post, we could call it “black reactive ethnocentrism.” You’ve coined a new phrase sis 🙂

    For much of what I hear from blacks surrounding his win is “Finally got somebody in the white house that looks like ME.” ME? But are we, Christians, looking for anyone who looks like Jesus?

    Take a look at this real life illustration of it in these news sources. They document the reactive double mindedness by Christians (any color) and blacks (of any religion): Here is a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 6:

    “…It also trumped racial identification. While Obama publicly backed the “No on Prop. 8″ effort, African American voters had no trouble voting overwhelmingly for the man who will be the nation’s first black president and then voting 70 percent in favor of Prop. 8, exit polls showed…”
    See full article here:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/05/MNH413UTUS.DTL

    Hear the LA Times speak on it:
    “For Trevor Healey, a 46-year-old gay man from Glendora, Tuesday’s election was bittersweet. He was thrilled that the nation elected its first African American president. But he was disappointed that black voters, traditionally among the most reliably liberal in the state, voted overwhelmingly to ban same-sex marriage…”
    See full article here:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gayblack8-2008nov08,0,1601616.story
    ____________
    What? It trumped race? So why didn’t it this biblical (or moral for some) allegiance trump the Presidential race? So in your same spirit sister Eve, to give our people the benefit of the doubt as to other potential motives (I think Dave pointed some of these out already in his blogging as well as many other bloggers) could it be that black Christians:

    1)Have no solid root in Biblical Theology?
    2)Are simply so emotional they are not thinking clearly?
    3)Have not done the due diligence to know what Obama really stands for?
    4)Are amply aware of what he stands for and willfully turned a blind eye to it because of black reactive ethnocentrism?  “Or I just can’t see myself voting for Palin?”
    5)Needed those issues to be written out in black and white right next to Obama’s name on the ballot in order to vote their conscience?

    Are the election results (as it relates to Christians–especially black) a result of the cess pool of unsound self-centered theology that is standard Christian diet in this country? As it is documented black voters know how to discern issues (spelled out clearly) and vote their conscience over allegiance to race. It is documented we are moral church going people? The million dollar questions are: Where is our allegiance? Who is our Master? At the end of the day do we fear God or man? Will we be faithful to Him?

    I say that trembling and trusting Him to provide us Faith, and literally, keep us from falling away. For, I was swayed and tempted to go with the majority early in this race (after his speech on race). And at the root of that sway was I bought some of the all inclusive rhetoric. And on some levels, I did not want to suffer more alienation in my life. I certainly did not want to be thought of as betraying my race, holier than thou, narrow minded and all dat. Early in the race, I was ignorant of the issues and felt convicted that before I made up my mind, I’d better find out where these guys stood-minus the spin. And, when I did that research, my decision was easily made.

    I know many will point to how Bush and other republican administrations were not godly. That is true and undisputed. Their ungodliness is well documented. The argument seems to go, “well what about all the dirt republicans did for 8 years or whenever they were in office to dishonor God.” I hear you and to those who make this argument, for me, the point is the difference between having say a King Saul or Solomon, (half heartedly upholding the laws of God, often self serving,, who had idols on the side and did not take down the high places) or King Jeroboam, Ahab, or_____ for President (kings who totally rejected God & with no second thought provoked Him to jealousy worse than their predecessors by approving specific behavior God said he absolutely hated).

    The point is they both were NOT pleasing to God. They both were judged and stripped of power! You can switch and insert democratic administrations on the King Saul and Solomon side if you like  as I’m not equating republicans with godliness (see my blog on that problem). I’m just trying to articulate an informed black Christian’s rationale for not voting for Obama.

    I don’t know how much God holds one accountable for how they vote. I’m not comfortable saying voting for Obama is sin but I am saying it may be sin for some, and for those, they would simply need to repent (James 4:17). Hey, I voted for Bill Clinton 1996 and Bush twice. So we all make mistakes—right? LOL!

    See the link below from the biblegateway commentary on James Chapter 4. Itss exhortation is very appropriate to the heated Christian discussion surrounding this election as well as other areas of our lives.

    Click here: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/?action=getCommentaryText&cid=13&source=1&seq=i.66.4.1

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