The Unfortunate Vindication of the Alt Right
In recent years several major Christian denominations have been dealing with questions related to race and racial reconciliation. Two of the denominations are the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). At the recent annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention there was a controversy over a motion to condemn the so-called alt right. The motion was eventually approved. I will not attempt a definition of the alt right other than to say that it is a movement which bears many of the hallmarks of white supremacy or, at the very least, white identity politics. Any ideology which advances racism or racial separatism is not compatible with the Christian gospel.
A Southern Baptist minister who is African American announced his departure from the denomination in an article published by the New York Times. Disheartened by what he believes is continued racism in the SBC Lawrence Ware has decided to forfeit his ordination. He believes the rather messy debate over the alt right, the presence of Trump voters, and the refusal to back the “Black Lives Matters” organization proves that the SBC is fundamentally racist. He also laments what he believes is homophobia in the SBC.
What is getting the most attention however is what I would describe as Ware’s poker-tell near the end of the article where he writes: “I love the church. But I love black people more.”
Being a pastor I am understandably concerned about the possibility of seeing similar sentiments grow in the denomination in which I serve. I have been encouraged by some of the conversations regarding race going on in the PCA. Even where we may disagree there are men and women of good faith with a common commitment to God's Word and the gospel who are having helpful conversations about race. But I am in equal measure concerned when I see influential voices in our denomination endorse Black Lives Matter (an anti-Christ organization) and write positively about segregation.
Rod Dreher points out that the ideas coming from Ware give an unfortunate claim of legitimacy to the alt right:
See, this is the kind of thing that vindicates some on the alt-right, who say that it doesn’t matter what you believe or why you believe it, they’re still going to hate you and accuse you of being one of us. So why not be one of us? (they say).
I reject categorically the racial idolatry of the alt right. I reject with equal force the religion of race held by Lawrence Ware and Black Lives Matter. The religion of racial idolatry is a dead end for reconciliation and poisonous to the gospel. I pray it will be rejected in the PCA.