In my work, I deal with a troubling reality – and that is that both oppressed and oppressor worship, supposedly, the same God.
We don’t make the distinction in our speech. All of us, white and black, say “God.” We refer to the same passages of scripture found in the same Bible. And yet, there is something wrong: the god of white nationalists is not the god I worship.
I am using a small “g” intentionally.
The God of the Bible is a loving God, a deity who demands justice for the marginalized, the downtrodden, the lost and the dispossessed. This God, supposedly the father of Jesus the Christ, we learn sent Jesus to the earth so that the “Word” would become “flesh.” Jesus, very God and very human, was sent to earth to show us how to live within the will of the One Sovereign God.
The goal was the creation of a beloved community.
But along the way, something has happened. The God described in the Christian Bible was dissected, and re-created, put together by different groups so that God became “a god,” created and manipulated by culture. This god is not concerned with justice for all, but instead turns its head from the “isms” of this world: racism, sexism, classism – and condones prejudice and bigotry. This god demands not adherence to sacred and ancient scriptures, but instead demands obedience to cultural norms.
This god sanctioned and approved of not only of slavery but of the treatment white people meted out to black people, slave and free. This god sanctioned selective sexism, meaning white men, while purporting to believe in the sanctity of women, regularly raped black women, knowing they had no recourse. This god allowed white people to do all they could to make sure black people were never granted equal rights as American citizens, even as they took advantage of the labor of black people to build this country’s economy.
This god allows people to speak in tongues while simultaneously oppressing people of color, working to take away their rights as human beings; this god allows people to violate basic tenets of the US Constitution which followers say they hold sacred.
This god put in the head of a man named Hitler that it was all right to kill millions of Jews and other people he deemed to be imperfect; this god allowed the eugenics movement in the United States to be so powerful that the Nazis borrowed the knowledge provided by Americans in the field to create their own monstrous project of mass extermination.
This god has stood by while white nationalists have run roughshod over the rights of people of color; this god has made white nationalists, or those who might not call themselves white nationalists but who certainly do not believe that blacks are entitled to the same rights as whites, kill people for trying to exercise their right to vote, and/or put laws into place to keep black people from voting. This god has allowed and led some white pastors to advocate for the preservation of the “closed society,” where whites are supreme and blacks are commodities.
This god understands exactly what “make America great again” means and is in agreement with it.
This god keeps those in power in a place where they cannot and do not care about how their racist policies affect not only black children, but poor children in general. This god not only sanctioned the lynching of black people in the past, but stands by as modern day lynching continues in the form of shooting and killing of unarmed black, brown and poor people This god allows a flagrant violation of the “due process” provision of the US Constitution when it comes to protecting the rights of black people; this god has allowed all-white juries to convict black people of crimes everyone knows they didn’t commit and this god has allowed lawmakers to create a system of mass incarceration which keeps black people in bondage, in spite of the Emancipation Proclamation.
This god allowed police officers in the South to put dogs and firehoses on black people, primarily women and children, whose only crime was that they refused to accept their status as property and second class citizens. This god allowed white men to kill black men on the spot for merely being accused of looking at or whistling at a white woman.
I don’t understand this god. This god is not the God I learned about in Sunday School.
As the white nationalists in office work to undo gains made by black people over the past 50 years, I shudder. As the president reveals his racism, I shudder, even more as I hear white Christians talk about how he has “found God.” Whose God? What does God stand for? Is there One God, who stands for justice and righteousness, mercy love and grace, for all people, or are there several gods, based upon which culture to which one belongs? It cannot be that the One God is really the One God…because that God would not allow such a debasement of one groups of human beings by another group.
The One Sovereign God would not condone the actions of white nationalists. The One Sovereign God would not be pleased with racism or sexism or classism or homophobia or xenophobia. The One God is not a white supremacist.
Or is he?
The god of the oppressor is not the One Sovereign God of the oppressed, the God that Jesus, the Palestinian Jew came to earth to represent. The god of the oppressor is a deity I do not know and cannot follow; that god stands for white nationalism, and all that white nationalism represents.
The god of this president is not my God, nor can it be the God of oppressed people who must believe in the goodness and fairness of God. The god of the oppressor is neither.