Ed Stetzer is still trying to find his way around Woke Christianity. After committing the offense of expressing his support for President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he quickly had to make it up to his woke brethren by giving space on his blog for a condemnation of Kavanaugh. Stetzer bent over backwards to make it clear his support would not diminish his wokeness: “I will continue to advocate for compassionate care for refugees, for better healthcare, for comprehensive immigration reform, and for much more.” #Resist. Nevertheless, space was provided to Stetzer’s colleague, John C. Richards, Jr., to explain how troubling the nomination is.
Richards wasted no time appealing to racist stereotypes. “As a Christian person of color, however, I approach Brett Kavanaugh, our President’s most recent nominee for the Supreme Court, with a bit less enthusiasm than my colleague.” As if black opposition to this nominee ought to be self-evident. He also warns his “White brothers and sisters in Christ to temper their celebration a bit.” As if white support for this nominee ought to be self-evident. Apparently Richards believes a person’s skin color determines their political convictions. Richards appropriately referred to himself as a “Christian person of color” because his political identity as a POC appears to be a more determinative factor than his Christianity. He appeals to diversity to help “us to look at issues in Evangelicalism through a different mirror” but his diversity doesn’t go far enough. A more robust diversity acknowledges diversity of thought among ethnic groups. Assuming another Christian’s opinion on a Supreme Court nominee based on their skin color is racist.
Richards attempts to pull a fast one by referring to the Dred Scott court as a “conservative court.” This rhetorical sleight of hand distracts from the fact that only two of the nine Dred Scott justices were Republican. Pro-slavery Democrats “held that people of African descent could not be U.S. citizens.” It was Democrats who violated the Constitution in order to further their pro-slavery agenda. Similarly today, the Democrats have no qualms trampling on the Constitution through the courts to advance their culture war initiatives. Its actually the play they like to run most. The Republican Party has many problems but it is the only party (of the two major parties) that at least pretends to not legislate from the bench. Richards appeals to the myth that Republicans and Democrats switched sides on race issues. Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, explodes this myth here. “The myth of the Southern Strategy is just the Democrats’ excuse for losing the South and yet another way to smear Republicans with the label ‘racist.’ Don’t buy it.”
Richards longs “for the days when Supreme Court judges weren’t viewed as representing a particular ideology.” Those good ol’ days have never existed. There has never been a time when Supreme Court justices were “devoid of political influence.” If you’re looking to move the court in the direction of fairness and neutrality, a judge with an originalist track record is as good as you’re going to get. Richards ought to be celebrating a nominee like Kavanaugh but, judging from his favorite hot button issues he cites in his piece, he didn’t really want non-political nominee. He wanted a liberal one.
A Different Gospel
Richards points to Stetzer’s “strong stance on immigration issues, the #MeToo movement, and mass incarceration” as keys to gospel witness in this world. He wants the right to life to be remixed into a “womb-to-tomb” political program. Immigration, health care, and labor laws are “essential issues evangelicals should care about.” According to Richards, our gospel witness must include immigration issues, #MeToo, mass incarceration, NFL players taking a knee, health care, labor laws, and the war on drugs. He says such a witness “is neither conservative nor liberal, but distinctly reflects the robust, multifaceted nature of the gospel and its implications.” I’m guessing, however, that the neither-conservative-nor-liberal “Christian” witness on each of these issues looks strikingly similar to something out of the Democrat Party platform. Is the nature of the gospel and its implications “woke?” This is one of the next great debates for evangelicals. One that will greatly determine the future of the movement. Earthly speaking, that is.