Busting a Myth of Evangelical Glory Days … and More, in White Supremacy Quiz

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Busting a Myth of Evangelical Glory Days … and More, in White Supremacy Quiz

Evan Derkacz

If American evangelicals can no longer point to the "glory days" when they were on the right side of history with regard to race, then it becomes much more difficult to avoid a reckoning.

Last week, Justice Not Jails surveyed its subscribers to gauge their familiarity with the history of white supremacy in the US. While it’s an informal survey, it’s interesting to consider the results in light of the fact that respondents are largely well-educated and left-leaning.

Questions range from the reasons behind Trump’s rise, to the 14th Amendment, to Affirmative Action. But what caught my eye was the fact that well over 80% of respondents believe that American evangelicals were by and large against slavery, and that they formed “the backbone of the Abolitionist movement.”

The context is important here… understanding the history in the context of white supremacy. If American evangelicals can no longer point to the “glory days” when they were on the right side of history with regard to race, then it becomes much more difficult to avoid a reckoning.

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Today’s white evangelical Christians clearly identify with Trump and with white nationalism, but in the 19th century white evangelicals advocated greater social and economic justice, even forming the backbone of the Abolitionist movement.

False. This is yet another tale that liberal white Christians like to tell themselves, but in reality a majority of evangelical Christian churches in the U.S. (and not just in the South) defended the “Peculiar Institution” of slavery, ostensibly on biblical grounds. There were certainly some notable evangelical Christians involved in Abolitionism, but they were a minority within the broader group.

Room for concern here. Again, the self-congratulatory history taught in our schools, and in our churches, bears a lot of responsibility for this popular misconception.

Read the rest of the survey here.