Paula White is a thin, white, barbie-like preacher who became popular by learning to preach like and appeal to black churchgoers. She’s been married three times (full disclosure: I’m divorced myself). She divorced her first husband soon after becoming a Christian. Along with her second husband, she started what grew to be a megachurch, largely attended by black folks. Paula’s lifestyle grew to include million dollar condos, private jets and so much swag that even Congress felt the need to investigate her. Paula now pastors another majority black megachurch and still makes her living from black dollars. She also became the latest high profile endorser of Donald Trump. So why are those negroes in her church still?
Over the past week, Kim Davis again surfaced in the news. A federal judge ordered the governor of Kentucky to decide whether marriage licenses altered by Davis are valid, given that Davis changed them by dropping her name from the forms. Davis, as you know, first galvanized the nation because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, as the law dictates that she must. Citing her Christian beliefs, she refused to do so and was jailed and ultimately released. Such conviction. Such bravery. Such bullshit.
I was raised Pentecostal and learned very early that the Bible was everything to folks around me. I always struggled with that. The Bible seems to say much about a lot of things. Problem is, if you have a belief you’d like to support with scripture, there’s a good chance you can do that. Do you believe slavery is morally wrong? So did my ancestors, who found inspiration in the Exodus story. Do you believe slavery is okay? Exodus 21 is a quick fix: you can own and beat the hell out of a slave, so long as they recover within a couple of days. No worries! In the aftermath of the Pope’s visit, I’m again wrestling with how religion and public policy intersect and if they should in the first place.
There is a long history in the U.S of masking crimes, hatred and atrocities with a thin veil of Christianity. That tradition goes all the way back to eradicating an indigenous population and “Manifest Destiny,” in the name of God. I could go on, the record is replete. The evangelical movement is but the latest cloak for evil. Despite all the talk of God, faith and values, the subtle (and not so subtle) machinery of white supremacy and bigotry is evident in the movement, nationally.