Black. Southern Baptist. Pastor. Alone these words seem simple descriptions. Tied together – Black Southern Baptist Pastor – the same words produce irony. We would only need a good Southern Baptist historian, maybe Bart Barber, to help us learn the historical scandal of such a description. They do exist. My friend Dwight McKissic is a Black Southern Baptist Pastor.
Lost amidst a recent piece Dwight penned and then was reposted at SBC Voices seems to be this nugget,
For those who ask, how can President Obama be a Christian and hold non-Christian views on abortion and gay marriage?: The answer is the same way Anglo Baptists/Evangelical slaveholders were Christians but wrong about slavery and denying women the right to vote. Make no mistake about it: President Obama and the Democrats are wrong on the issues of gay marriage and abortion. But just as Billy Graham is willing to declassify Mormonism as a cult in order to promote Romney, Blacks have prioritized economic and justice issues in order to elevate poor and historically oppressed people.
McKissic is calling for a more robust Christian vision for all of life. Candidly Dwight locates issues of abortion, slavery, women’s suffrage, poverty, and historically oppressed people along the same plane. His readers do not tend to see it that way. It shows up in the disconnection between party platforms, candidates and the absence of any real action. It matters little that no real challenge has been brought to Roe v. Wade since 1973 – and that with approved platforms and campaigning candidates decrying the decision.
Remember, for many heresy is found in what is said, not what is done. An excursus on the whole Dinesh D’Souza affair would be appropriate here. But, it would derail the point and lengthen the post beyond the normal attention span.
We tend to make political decisions, if not all other decisions, in order to keep things the same, protect our perception of the way the world should work, and extend privilege to some people, generally including ourselves, over other people. These moves require an inherent myopia – the world seen only from my vantage point.
I feared for McKissic. Rather than capture the aforementioned nugget, he found himself defending his belief President Obama is a Christian against sure-footed commenters who know the President could not possibly be a Christian. On other occasions he faced the criticism that we must stop looking for racism under every rock. What he intended was answering the question, how is it black Christians tend to vote the way they do knowing the Democratic platform supports abortion and same-sex marriage. The issue is perspective, context.
Dwight offered his context – the shape of the world he grew up in,
Finally, I was born into a world where the hospital that I was born in was determined by my skin color. The neighborhood in which I lived and the schools and churches I attended was determined by my skin color. The public school textbooks handed down to me–second and third hand–had the names of White students written in them, because they were given to the Black schools and students after they were worn out, and sometimes outdated. I sat in the balcony at the movie house in my hometown, because only White movie-goer’s were allowed to sit on the floor. My sister was unmercifully beaten by a White police officer–because she excercised her constitutional right not to sign a traffic ticket without the advice of counsel. The officer committed suicide a few days before the trial was to begin to hold him civilly accountable for his physically abusive offense. My race was designated on my drivers license when I first started driving. The BGCT loan funding committee in Texas were given interest free loans to White and Hispanic churches while charging Black Churches 6 % interest until the late 90?s. I would not have believed it if I had not been serving on the committee approving the loans. In part, because I protested this blatant racism, they later abandoned that practice. I could go on and on and on; but I believe you get the picture. Therefore, I was trained by the society in which I was birth in to think racially. The problem we have with integration today is we don’t have this dialogue with each other; therefore, we don’t understand each other.
Exactly. We talk past one another on our way to making our own point. We often do not listen to the other. In fact, when Jesus described, in his words, the reason for his coming he prefaced it by noting that his followers would do what he does – serve all. What would it mean if we voted with that in mind? How may we serve others?
Dwight did not vote for President Obama in 2008. He will vote for neither candidate in 2012. Texas allows write-in candidates. He will write in Jesus Christ knowing his candidate will not win.
And, Jesus does not win when we become the gatekeepers to His Kingdom, exclude all issues of life for the sake of one, and dismiss a brother whose perspective is different than our own.