John Derbyshire: A White Flight From Christianity?
My video clip of the week, perhaps the year, is this one of Vincent Stewart, a/k/a/ Reverend X, preaching God’s Word. The whole thing is 13 minutes, but here’s a flavor:
(1m26s, responding to a phone-in caller): Repeat it after me, bitch. I come in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. God Almighty, you know? Ruler of heaven and earth and every goddam thing in between…
(3m38s, different caller): What do you know about the Lord? [repeated twice.] Now tell me. I come in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s stay focused. You wan’ see [?] you own flesh. You wan’… ’Cause you see flesh an’ s–t, and whitey always told you, “Oh, a man can’t be God.” Huh? What you callin’ me for? I told you what I’m about. It’s about getting lawyers and training them up in the word of the Scriptures, and we’re going to help the poor, the fatherless that can’t afford…that can’t afford they, um, legal…legality. See, they can’t…they can’t afford justice. I know you all live for justice, huh, just like the white supremaciss, huh. White supremaciss preachin’ justice fo’ yo ass to spare you from the noose, blaaack maaaan! . . .
(10m52s, different caller, who had accused Rev. X of “corrupt communications”): Your motherf—–g communication is corrupted! Whatever! Whatever! Then I’m wrong! You got me now! [repeated twice.] You figured me out! You f—–g nincom-f—–g-poop! . . .
You get the idea. It’s a down-market version of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The same things are there, only more coarsely expressed: the everlasting rancor of the black, his hatred of “whitey,” the crude socialism and talk of “justice,” the obsessive imagery of nooses. This is Black Liberation Theology for the ghetto crowd.
That Wright is a revered preacher in black America also tells us that, far from coming together, we Americans are further apart than we were in the 1950s, when Negroes could be described as Christian, conservative and patriotic. Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad did not speak for black America then. Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young and Dr. Martin Luther King did.
I pulled that Reverend X clip from a posting at the Occam’s Razor blog. The blog’s author, Alfred Clark, is arguing that Christianity is becoming a ghetto religion, with less and less appeal to white people.
This would be a remarkable development, if it’s actually happening. Of the three Abrahamic religions, only one is tribal—that is, yoked to a single ethny. The other two are universalist, and have been for centuries.
The main body of the Christian Church has of course been European since the early centuries, but the Gospel of Christ has been preached successfully in Beijing and Bombay, Nairobi and Nagasaki, Samoa and Seoul. My vague impression—I can’t claim to be well-informed about this—is that Islam has been even more successful in maintaining its appeal to many widely different peoples.
Not that there weren’t always tribal divisions within Christianity. The Greek-Latin split, though always described as doctrinal, surely had an ethnic component. So did the Reformation: The Germans were restive under Papal authority long before Luther showed up—think of the last act of Tannhäuser.
[English people’s] self-identification as Christians has very little to do with Christ or the Bible. They were no more Christian than British Astronomer Martin Rees (nowadays Lord Rees), who told Richard Dawkins that he goes to church “as an unbelieving Anglican . . . out of loyalty to the tribe.” (Compare English über-patriot George Orwell`s remark that “I like the Church of England better than Our Lord.”)
—We Are Doomed, Chapter 8.
Still, believing Christians worldwide read the same Bible, worshiped the same God, and acknowledged Christ as his son and their Savior. Christendom held together somehow as a European-dominated religion.
If Alfred Clark is right, that centuries-long universalism may be drawing to a close. Much of Europe is no longer significantly Christian, and the same corrosive trends are present here. Pew Research reported last October that
The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
If—it is hard to tell from the Pew numbers—the decline in faith is stronger among whites, it will become self-reinforcing. Christianity will, as Alfred Clark is predicting, fall prey to white flight.
Leaders of the big organized Christian churches seem to be trying to accelerate the process. The response of Pope Francis to the rising tide of economic migrants from Africa trying to break into Europe was to visit the overwhelmed Italian island of Lampedusa and criticize the “indifference” shown to the Africans—as if their journeys were not perfectly voluntary, and the besieged Italians of Lampedusa were not entitled to feel themselves victims of Papal indifference.
Over in England, meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the churches founded by Caribbean immigrants as “the strongest in the country.” Ann Corcoran at Refugee Resettlement Watch has a long paper trail on the strenuous efforts by the Lutheran Church to assist in transforming the demography of the U.S.A.
That third Abrahamic religion—the explicitly tribal one—has, at least in its homeland, taken an approach directed more to ethnic self-preservation than to self-annihilation. How long can it be before this is generally noticed?
When I wrote We Are Doomed five years ago, I assumed that we would see a general ebbing of “organized, churched religion,” leaving us with “vague dreams of transcendence.”
At that time I had not read Eric Kaufmann’s book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? (because he hadn’t yet written it). Kaufmann crunches the demographic numbers, noting the very high fertility of fundamentalist Christians, Mormons, Jews, and Moslems. He concludes that, yes, the religious shall inherit the earth. However, as I noted in my Takimag review:
The religion dominating the world of our grandchildren will not be the subtle intellectualism of Christian seminaries—of a Tillich, a Niebuhr, a Küng. It will be the literalist-fundamentalist obscurantism of Muslim Salafis, Jewish “Ultras,” Young Earth Creationists, and Mormon splinter sects. In a world dominated by these closed-minded babblers, what place will there be for literature, science, free inquiry, or freedom of any kind?
God help us! Though of course, if fanatical devotion is what He wants, He’s more likely to help them.
I guess that would include the Reverend X.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
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