Recently, I quietly removed the designation “Unashamedly Christian” from my Twitter bio because…I am ashamed indeed.
I adopted this “unashamed” mentality from Lecrae, who has spent the past two decades making it cool to worship Jesus Christ. However, Christianity in America has not looked cool at all lately. Since 2016, the American Church has sustained irreparable damage for reasons that should be obvious.
“If I take the religious landscape, and I sort religious groups by their support for one candidate or the other, what inevitably happens is that there are no two groups further away from each other in that sorting than white Evangelical Protestants and African-American Protestants” ~ Robert Jones, author of The End of White Christian America.
Exit polls from the presidential election that year indicated overwhelming white evangelical support for a thrice-divorced candidate who fostered popularity despite his penchant for unvarnished misogyny and racism. His appointment of known white supremacist as his chief strategist likely secured the white vote. #45’s subsequent behavior, such as failing to denounce the white nationalists in Charlottesville, describing of nations where black people are the majority as “shithole countries,” victim-blaming Puerto Rico for the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused (he not knowing that PR is a US territory is bonus embarrassment), and lambasting large cities where black people represent large populations for rising violent crime rates when in actuality, violent crime is at an all-time low, further alienated minorities over the years. This is not even a comprehensive list of his transgressions.
In the face of white evangelicals betting the whole farm, silently approved. In response to their silent approval, churches with mixed demographics have suffered an exodus of black worshippers, a trend that apparently has not phased them. In the past four years, I, too, have changed churches twice—the first time because I did not feel safe due to its lack of diversity, and the second time because I desired more diversity than a church that was predominantly white could provide (note that white people do not go to black churches to create “multiethnic” settings; these types of churches always begin as predominantly white).
Meanwhile, I kept my head down while writing for a ministry called Geeks Under Grace. At that time, GUG was a progressive project, valorizing geeky media like video games, movies, and comics. It’s more black, Puerto Rican, and multiracial staff members were more than just token representation. But over time, they atrophied, and we never managed to replace them. The ministry, reflecting American churches, became less diverse.
The combination of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the continued silence or belated responses from white evangelicals on everything from the protests to police violence to COVID-19 impacted the core of my being. Prayerfully, I published “Racial Battle Fatigue and the Church,” which became the most-popular, most-circulated anything that I have ever written during my six years at GUG. The organization showed its support, as that was the trendy thing to do.
Yet over time, the popularity of BLM waned, and what an organization or institution champions does not necessarily reflect the opinions of its individual participants. Throughout the year, the same kinds of people who claim to be pro-life had expressed skepticism toward COVID protocols—not unlike the man they voted for (now twice). As the 2020 election approached, those individuals became increasingly bolder in their worldviews that defy reason and science. It was then that I realized the well of the white-faced American Church had been poisoned in a way that would require a miracle to remedy.
Writing on racial battle fatigue and the church was a necessary exercise for me; there were some promises and commitments that I had made to myself that I had forgotten, and now I remember. I do not desire, nor am I amble, to single-handedly change a religious institution; it would be unhealthy for me or any number of individuals to bear the burden of reminding hegemonic institutions of minority perspectives at every turn. Because I feel compelled to write as both a hobby and a divine gift that I would be dishonoring God if I abandoned the practice, I (and my wife) feel that the best thing I can do is to create some distance between myself and structures that signify who I call White Jesus the Colonizer.
Thus, I will be spending 2021 de-colonizing my theology. I want develop and nourish my faith the best I can outside of a white worldview, if not also a westernized one. So much of how I think in terms of faith is rooted in WASPy tendencies. I wish to divorce myself from that, where thinkers do not perceive critical race theory as satanic in the eyes of White Jesus.
I have noticed that there are dozens of blerd (black nerd) communities, but to my knowledge, thus far, none of them are faith-based. As I launch this blog site, I am hoping that it might become a starting point to decolonizing my faith, as well as a refuge for those who desire likewise. Ultimately, I hope that instead of feeling the need to publicly indicate that I am a Christian/Christ Follower/Believer, etc. on social media, I pray that strangers will know me by my love, that I would be a light in the world, and that my efforts would bear good fruit.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!