Pastor David W. Swanson
David is the founding pastor of New Community Covenant Church, a multiracial congregation on the South Side of Chicago. He also serves as the CEO of New Community Outreach, a non-profit organization working to reduce causes of trauma and raise opportunities for equity in Chicago. He previously served as a Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Pastor Swanson says this –
White Christians: “I can’t support BLM because I don’t agree with everything the org believes.”
Same people: “I support Donald J. Trump even though I don’t agree with everything the president says and does.”
(Given the choice between Black liberation or white supremacy, we consistently choose the latter.)
Some of the comments he received from his observation follows :
“This is sadly true. And these people are blinded by their fear or so self deceived they actually think the allegiances they have chosen are on the side of righteousness.”
“And that’s why the call of the Christian community into accountability must continue. #RighteousAnger.”
“The saddest part is the damage that has been done to Christianity.”
“Long gone are the days when “character matters.”
On the their hand, some are saying:
“I support the meaning behind “Black Lives Matter” as they too are creations of God, but I believe we are already as equal as possible in regard to government legislation. What is wrong with America (and the world in general) is a heart problem that will only be solved by Christ. I don’t support Trump’s character, demeanor, or rash remarks, just like I don’t support looting, burning, and destroying people’s livelihoods in the name of “social justice”…. evil is still evil regardless of what message the enemy tries to disguise it with.”
“This is such a false dichotomy!!! As Christians, we are inherently in opposition to racism and not supporting BLM because of the beliefs of the organization does not mean that we are in opposition to the message that “black lives matter”. We whole heartedly embrace the message that racism is evil. Supporting the president despite his shortcomings is pretty much what people do with every single president. We believe that the policies and the people that have been put into place under Trump are significantly preferred to the alternative. Additionally, no one is supporting white supremacy! It is a disgusting and foolish statement to say that Christians are choosing white supremacy. The president is not supporting or promoting it in the slightest. Every single argument saying that he is, has been solidly refuted”
“First of all. There are no racist Christians. Those don’t exist. There are no Christians acting like black people are “less than”. There are a lot of people that call themselves Christians but aren’t…my source on that is bible and my eyes. If you go to their website you’ll see many things they affirm are what christians would affirm against…and none of that is even to mention how everything that happens is considered racist. Racist cops. As much as true Christians can’t be thinking black people are inferior, they also can’t be ascribing motive to people they don’t know and haven’t been proven. Both sin. Both equally damnable. What has BLM done for any black person? They’re sure raking in the money. What families have they helped? Have you heard of any? I haven’t. BLM exists to tear down. Not build up. As a christian, I would affirm against BLM. I would also affirm that black people should be treated and looked at the same as everyone else because we are all made in the image of God.”
First of all, thank Pastor Swanson for this spot-on observation. He is shining a light on the use of our rationalizations for what we deem moral, not support for one political party or the other. Why we claim “higher ground” for one and not the other. White Americans (I am generalizing, of course), including white Christians, have consistently chosen against the support of the “liberation” of Black people in this country. That is why there has been little resolution to the ethical, political and economic issues that have plagued us for generations.
I’ve posted about politicizing religion earlier, when commenting on this current movement: Rebuke [Catholic] Priests Who Claim It’s a Sin to Vote DemocratIc :
“This country is so divided; it’s pitiful. Some of our religious leaders have put aside God’s word and turned into sleazy politicians!! Democrats are soulless because they support a woman’s right to chose, while Republicans can commit every other sin on this earth and that’s okay! Our Christian leaders should be teaching us, instructing us to be like Christ, not dictating what political party we should follow.”
“More and more right-wing Catholic priests are falsely claiming it’s a sin to vote for Joe Biden. This isn’t just bad policy — it’s bad theology, and a distortion of both the Gospel and Catholic teaching. The truth is that Catholic teaching allows discerning Catholics to vote for any candidate. Both the U.S. bishops’ conference and retired Pope Benedict have acknowledged that voters must often weigh multiple moral issues at the polls — including workers’ rights, protecting the poor, and stopping racist behavior.” [ act.faithfulamerica.org ] September 5, 2020
It is a complicated, multidimensional issue. But as a Christian, you should examine your political views to include moral issues, not just follow the support a party. I would like to address some of the things brought up in this particular round of discussion.
Pastor Swanson’s conclusion should not cause shock and awe for anyone!! If this were not the case, there would never have been racial division in this country in the first place. This nation was founded on the pursuit of freedom, but it was always a given that the color of one’s skin dictated your status in this new nation.
White Christians drove Native Americans off their land and sequestered them in reservations.
White Christians owned slaves.
White Christians fought against integrating schools.
White Christians denied blacks the right to vote.
White Christians were and still are in charge of lending institutions that have different policies for blacks and other people of color in granting loans.
White Christians turned fire hoses on peaceful Civil Rights protesters.
White Christians have called me a nigger and told me I wasn’t welcomed there.
I need not go on and on; you get the picture. So now we have a new name, Black Lives Matter, for yet another movement designed to, once again, point out the need, the desire, the demand for equal treatment in this country….. and once again, white Christians justify why they can’t support something to that effect.
White Christians biggest excuse is that they can’t support rioting, and looting and destruction. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell you, WE DON’T SUPPORT THAT EITHER !!!! There have always been small factions that believe violence is the only way. There have also always been small groups that just promote violence for their own agenda. Their goal is to cause destruction because they want to steal or just destroy property. Sometimes this is done out of desperation, sometimes out of defiance. It has been proven that some individuals were doing this just so the BLM organization would be blamed for the violence. I’ve said it before – THE EXTREMISTS GET ALL THE ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA !!! And if you take to heart everything you hear at face value, you perpetuate the lies and the falsehoods that you chose to base your opinions on. So you WANT to believe that the BLM movement is based on violence and destruction, and now you can morally not support justice and equality for Black people. So the injustice and inequality continues….
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the champion for non-violence, yet riots occurred during his tenure also. In his own words on September 27, 1966 in an interview with reporter Mike Wallace, he said :
“I will never change in my basic idea that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to [Blacks] in [their] struggle for freedom and justice. For [Blacks] to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral. The cry of “Black Power” is a reaction to the reluctance of “White Power” to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for [Blacks]. I think we have to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? What it has failed to hear is that the plight of [poor Blacks] has worsened over the last few years. The mood of the [Black] community now Is one of urgency; one of saying we’re not going to wait. That we’ve got to have our freedom; we’ve waited too long. I would say that every Summer we are going to have this vigorous protest. My hope is that it will be nonviolent. I hope we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive. I hope that we can avoid riots, but that we would be as militant and determined, and next Summer and through the winter, as we have been this Summer. And, I think the answer to how long it will take will depend on the federal government, and the city halls of our various cities, and on white America to a large extent. This is where we are, at this point, and I think white America will determine how long it will be and which direction we will go in the future.”
When Wallace brings up the fact that other minorities, such as Jewish, Irish and Italians, have been able to rise up and make their way out of the ghettos, why have Blacks found it so difficult? King responds :
“No other racial group has been a slave on American soil. It’s nice to say other people were down and they got up. [Blacks] have had high visibility, and because of the prejudices existing in this country, [our] color has been against [us]. It’s been against [us] and they’ve used that to keep [us] from moving up. And the final analysis, when you say to a man that you are in this position because of your race or because of your color, you say to that man that you can never get out of it. Other racial groups have been able to, maybe, change their accents or change their names, but [Blacks] can’t.”
Unfortunately, what Dr. King said is just as relevant now! It sounds like it was spoken yesterday, not in 1966! That in itself illustrates how far we have NOT come since then.
King had an unwavering commitment to nonviolence. Most protesters today are non-violent. If you can offer a solution on how to separate the people that want to intentionally harm persons or property from the peaceful protestors, every law enforcement organization on this planet would be more than happy to hear your suggestion. That said, violent protests are not running rampant all over the country. You should not believe everything you hear or see without proof.
Donald Trump stated on August 31, 2020 in a press conference: “The entire city (of Portland) is ablaze all the time.” Authorities dispute Trump’s false claim about Portland : “We are not on fire.” The FACTS are :
- Nightly protests have happened in Portland since May. Some fires have ensued. In many cases, the fires have been set in trash cans and dumpsters and on streets.
- Authorities and local journalists disputed Trump’s claim that all of Portland is “ablaze.” The protests have been confined to a few small sections of the city.
- A Portland fire department spokesperson said none of the protest fires have required more than one fire engine to put out.
One of the comments made suggests that they, White Christians, “believe that the policies and the people that have been put into place under Trump are significantly preferred to the alternative.”
Specifically, what policies and ideologies involving race has Trump offered to his white Christian supporters? Trump himself has said he has done more for Black people than Abraham Lincoln. But the facts don’t support this assumption. No wonder one of my white church “friends” decided to “unfriend” me instead of giving me examples, as I requested, after she quoted him verbatim to me.
“What was said : ‘Nobody has ever done for the black community what President Trump has done.’ False. Even assuming that Mr. Trump was just comparing himself to other presidents and not abolitionists and civil rights leaders, experts said his claim was profoundly ahistoric. ‘This may well be the president’s most audacious claim ever,’ said Michael K. Fauntroy, a professor of political science at Howard University. ‘Not only has he not done more than anybody else, he’s done close to the least.’ ” [newyorktimes.com]
Let’s take a look at some of the things he has “done” for or to Blacks:
he called the black NFL players that were taking a knee against racism (for the record, this was NEVER done to disrespect the American flag) “sons of bitches.”
he demanded to see Obama’s birth certificate. He never insisted that Clinton, or Biden, or any white person produce proof of America birth. Oh, until black Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris surfaced….he tried that “birther” nonsense again to insinuate she may not have been born here also, but it didn’t float this time. Knowing him, I can’t promise the issue is dead yet….
he called Congresswoman Maxine Waters a “low IQ person”; if you want to read about all she has ACTUALLY done for Black people, check out her website. You might be impressed.
in his real estate dealings, it was proven that he refused to rent to Blacks. In 1973, he was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because his company would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans.
he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five rapists. “There is now ample evidence that the confessions were false, and in that sense, were not actual admissions of guilt. After they served significant years in jail, the real, solitary perpetrator confessed and the DNA retrieved was reams of evidence now point to the false nature of those confessions. Even the prosecutor said she agreed the rape convictions were rightly overturned.”
he has endorsed racists for public office. In 2018, he tweeted, “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia.” Stewart has a long history of making racist, anti-Semitic, and other inappropriate comments, and has championed white supremacist Paul Nehlen, a Republican U.S. House candidate from Wisconsin. Trump also tweeted in 2020 his support for Marjorie Taylor Green for Congress from Georgia. She also has expressed racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic views.
he said that four minority, liberal congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places (countries) from which they came.” Three of the women were born here, and the fourth became a US citizen as a teenager.
he called Haiti and African nations “shithole countries” and preferred that our immigrants to come from white countries like Norway.
he is against the removal and relocation of Confederate statues and other memorabilia, knowing how most blacks feel about the issue.
he announced in July 2020 that he was considering the elimination of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, a program designed to address racial segregation in suburban areas.
Okay; now let’s get down to the core of Trumps argument….
Ben Carson declined to back President Donald Trump’s claim that he has done more for the African American community since Abraham Lincoln. In an interview on June 14, 2020, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary said he “did not want to get into an argument about who’s done the most” during his appearance on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “Carson, the only African American cabinet secretary in the Trump administration, instead listed the president’s successes in supporting the black community, such as pushing for prison reform and restoring funding for the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.” [abc13.com] (Continue reading, and I will point out Trump’s actual role in these claims.) “It’s hard to compare that with Lyndon Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting [Rights] Act, Ulysses S. Grant sending in troops to take on the Klu Klux Klan, President Eisenhower sending in troops to enforce Brown v. Board of Education,” Stephanopoulos said.” I would concur.
he supports “School Choice” — a movement that hurts public schools and disproportionately hurts African American children. The school choice movement, which supporters say seeks to expand alternatives to traditional public schools for children who have poor educational options in their neighborhoods, gives parents a choice in their children’s education.” [washingtonpost.com] Sounds great, doesn’t it? However the truth of the matter is that school choice plans continue to provide more choices and practical options for more affluent parents and students. [idra.org] “The urban centers Trump has denigrated throughout his presidency have some of the highest minority population rates in the country.” [stltoday.com]
he claims “full credit for achieving the best economic figures for black people. That is not accurate. Black unemployment rates did reach a low in 2019, but much of that was due to the progress that came during the Obama administration. The household median income also was higher for blacks prior to Trump taking office.” [washitonpost.com]
he signed the First Step Act into law in December 2018. “The law shortened mandatory minimum sentences, scaled back the federal “three strikes” rules and gave judges more leeway in sentencing nonviolent offenders. It also made the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. The Fair Sentencing Act, signed by Obama, reduced the difference in sentences that were imposed for crack and powder cocaine — differences that often overlapped with the race of the defendants — but applied only from 2010 forward. The First Step Act extended that backward. It’s worth remembering, though, that the vast majority of black Americans aren’t directly affected by its provisions. Black Americans, thanks in part to the unevenness and bias of the criminal justice system, are disproportionately likely to be incarcerated.” [washintonpost.com]
he signed a tax bill into law in 2017. “Its provisions reward investment in impoverished areas by deferring taxes on the sale of stocks and other holdings if the assets from those sales are invested in certain high-need geographic areas. The problem, as the New York Times reported last August, is that the benefits have largely gone to wealthy Americans who have often made investments with no obvious benefit to the surrounding communities. And, again, even if 100 percent were targeted to the needs of poor Americans, that still only affects a fraction of the black community.” [washingtonpost.com]
he noticeably doesn’t include healthcare for Blacks in his rhetoric. His aim is to “change the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by expanding the ability of insurers to provide less expensive — and less comprehensive — coverage. The Affordable Care Act had reduced the number of uninsured black Americans by a third, thanks largely to the expansion of Medicaid. Trump’s administration supports a legal effort to eradicate the law entirely, erasing its provisions including the mandate that insurers cover those with preexisting conditions.” [washingtonpost.com]
he did “sign the bill for [fiscal year 2020] which provided record HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) funding. It was the result of bipartisan work in the Congress; the president simply signed it as part of the overall budget for the nation. He additionally signed the Future Act — passed by bipartisan voice votes in both chambers — providing additional financial support for the institutions by continuing a program started under George W. Bush. Signing this law mirrored an action taken by Obama after the funding stream was set to expire during his presidency. At other times, Trump has claimed that he “saved” HBCUs. That’s not the case.” [washingtonpost.com]
he did not focus on black concerns, when it came to the discussion of reforming police practices on June 16, 2020, but on “ensuring that police were comfortable with his proposals.”
Now, let’s talk about the people that Trump has placed under him…..
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, said in an interview with “Axios on HBO on June 3, 2019, that Trump’s presidency will be remembered for two major things. One of which is as follows:
“Changing the types of people who come to work in Washington — ‘people who never would’ve been in Washington before who were not qualified by conventional standards … have brought great results to this country both economically and from a national security point of view.’”
I think this chart says how well that has worked out………
Robin DiAngelo is the author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. The book came out in 2018 and is back on the bestseller list as protesters once again are calling for an end to police violence against black people. “Racism is what happens when you back one group’s racial bias with legal authority and institutional control. …When you back one group’s collective bias with that kind of power, it is transformed into a far-reaching system. It becomes the default. It’s automatic. It’s not dependent on your agreement or belief or approval. It’s circulating 24/7, 365. Racism is the foundation of the society we are in. And to simply carry on with absolutely no active interruption of that system is to be complicit with it. And in that way, we can say that nice, white people who really aren’t doing anything other than being nice people are racist. We are complicit with that system. There is no neutral place. We’ve been taught to think about a racist as someone who consciously and intentionally seeks to hurt people based on race. And if that’s what you think it means to be racist, then of course it’s offensive that I would say you were racist. That’s not what I mean by that. … All of the racism I’ve perpetrated in my life was neither conscious nor intentional, but harmful to other people nonetheless. When you change your understanding of what it means to be racist, you will no longer be defensive.” When you change your definition, it’s actually liberating. … It’s transformative. You know, you can stop defending, deflecting, denying, explaining away, giving all the evidence for why you are different and couldn’t possibly have been impacted by the society you live in.” [npr.org] June 9, 2020
Now, let’s address the controversy around Black Lives Matter itself. Currently there is a “contentious distinction” over what Black Lives is :
“There are at least two versions of BLM. There’s the BLM network founded by the three black female activists who created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Then there’s the BLM Movement, a more amorphous (structureless) collection of racial justice groups. Where the BLM Network is structured and has 34 chapters, the BLM movement is decentralized and relies “almost solely on local, rather than national, leadership. The movement eschews (abstains from) hierarchy and centralized leadership.” [influencewatch.org]
“The Black Lives Matter Movement’s collection of groups has come to take a variety of forms and political shapes, from groups that favor protest and have no intention of supporting candidates, to others that have begun lobbying candidates and elected officials on legislative issues, to others “hoping to use money to make a difference in elections.” [influencewatch.org]
“Black Lives Matter wants to make clear: despite what you may have seen in viral social media posts by right-wing activists, none of this money is going to the Democratic National Committee.” I have commented on this in a previous post. All of you donations go directly to the chosen organization. Laws actually prevent the organization from diverting the money directly to the DNC. BlackLivesMatter.com uses the platform ActBlue to process donations. ActBlue is popular among Democratic politicians and progressive nonprofits. A similar service, WinRed, is utilized by Republicans for the same mode of donation collection, but neither political platform has any control over how funds are allocated. I am not acting as an advocate for any particular organization. If you donate funds to ANY group for any reason, you have to do your own due diligence in deciding what you want to support and where you want your money to go. The person who commented the he hadn’t heard how BLM has helped one black family was probably waiting for that information to magically fall in his lap. If you want to know how ANY organization is utilizing their funding, look it up!! If you discover something shady or not to your liking, then don’t contribute…or better yet, then comment on it!!
Many people, black and white, Christian or otherwise, who say they support Black Lives Matter, aren’t supporting a specific group or specific policies. They are supporting the realization that racial inequality does exist. And more importantly, they want to do something about it. What that actually entails is varied and does not mean there is only one path to achieve the goal. Nothing in life works that way. To doing nothing makes you complicit with things remaining the same. And that “sameness” supports the supremacy of whites.
“I would affirm (strongly assert) against BLM. I would also affirm (strongly assert) that black people should be treated and looked at the same as everyone else because we are all made in the image of God.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where a strong assertion of something made that something true? Can you be a Christian and strongly be against the published goals of Black Lives Matter? That’s your prerogative; not everyone agrees with all the goals and policies of any organization. Can you be a Christian and not support that black lives matter? That’s between you and your God. But you can’t be a Christian and assert that blacks be treated the same as whites and make that come true by just saying God intended for it to be that way. That takes changes in attitudes, in hearts, in legislation, in laws, in practice – all this requires action, not just thoughts and prayers.
“I see no color” is not the goal.
“I see your color and I honor you. I value your input. I will be educated about your lived experiences. I will work against the racism that harms you. You are beautiful. Tell me how to do better.”
… That’s the goal.
– Carlos A. Rodriguez, The Happy Community