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Old 02-04-2024, 04:56 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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I randomly turned on the TV while nursing my first coffee of the day yesterday, and CNN of all people was doing a reasonably good (if insufficiently in-depth) interview with a couple of evangelicals. One was a black guy who is so tired of expending the energy to explain that he's not "that kind" of evangelical (white, typically arch-conservative, against helping the disadvantaged) that he no longer accepts it as a label. The other one was hispanic.

Their point was that there are LOTS of black, hispanic (fastest-growing segment), Asian Evangelicals (particularly Korean), not just what we reflexively envision as overwhelmingly white. And while they share a lot of views with all evangelicals such as being against abortion, they tend to be significantly more liberal, both theologically and politically.

The number of white evangelicals is in decline; the number of brown/black/"of color" evangelicals is rising. And it's changing the demographic. Many evangelicals of color see themselves as ultimately saving evangelicalism from the depredations of what folks.

For example a black evangelical considers it central to their faith to fight for justice and equality of the races. White evangelicals, not so much.

One distinction the piece failed to make was that while fundamentalists are evangelicals, evangelicals are not all fundamentalists. When I was in Christian fundamentalism, we were happy to call ourselves evangelicals, but if you want to raise the hackles of an evangelical opposed to the not-so-subtle bigotry and white supremacy of fundamentalism, just try calling them a fundamentalist. They will not like that AT ALL.

Another distinction is that fundamentalism is a predominantly rural and suburban phenomenon. When they try to establish urban/inner city churches they either are laughed out of town or that congregation becomes less fundamentalist and more evangelical because now you have to start dealing with all those icky poor people and their icky problems (e.g., drugs) and you can't be remotely effective at that without developing some blasted empathy and compassion; approaches that emphasize blame and shame don't cut it.

At any rate, coming from a fundamentalist / wanna-be evangelical background, I tend to overlook these distinctions and the faint guttering candle of hope that evangelicals "of color" hold for that part of the Christian enterprise. And often when we discuss these topics I am as guilty as anyone of conflating the evangelicalism with white Christian fundamentalism (even to using the term "fundagelical", which I need to wean myself off of).

I hope this post provokes some more nuanced thinking about evangelicals in the US. We can't, sadly, discuss the political ramifications of all this but they are obvious unless you have been living under a rock; but also, it is just possible we might over time see a "kinder, gentler" evangelical influence in the church.

ETA: There's an argument this thread belongs in Christianity. I put it here because of the broader implications for religion but if the mods feel it should be in Christianity, feel free to move it.
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Old 02-04-2024, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Elysium
12,386 posts, read 8,149,420 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
.

I hope this post provokes some more nuanced thinking about evangelicals in the US. We can't, sadly, discuss the political ramifications of all this but they are obvious unless you have been living under a rock; but also, it is just possible we might over time see a "kinder, gentler" evangelical influence in the church.

ETA: There's an argument this thread belongs in Christianity. I put it here because of the broader implications for religion but if the mods feel it should be in Christianity, feel free to move it.
Ultimately it comes down to political tribe comes first and religious denomination is secondary for most people.
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Old 02-04-2024, 08:39 AM
 
7,342 posts, read 4,131,451 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Their point was that there are LOTS of black, hispanic (fastest-growing segment), Asian Evangelicals (particularly Korean), not just what we reflexively envision as overwhelmingly white. And while they share a lot of views with all evangelicals such as being against abortion, they tend to be significantly more liberal, both theologically and politically.

The number of white evangelicals is in decline; the number of brown/black/"of color" evangelicals is rising. And it's changing the demographic. Many evangelicals of color see themselves as ultimately saving evangelicalism from the depredations of what folks.
It's funny because coming from NYC, pre-1980, I always thought Evangelicals were Korean and other minorities. However, with Reagan and the rise of conservatism, entire press focused on 'White Evangelicals' as the silent majority or loose cannon who elected Reagan. It may seem strange in hindsight, but the 1980 election was a shock to the media and political insiders. No one called it, much like Trump's election in 2016.

After Reagan's election, there was intense focus on 'White Evangelicals' as a voting block to the point where all other types of Evangelicals were ignore. It did a disservice to Evangelicals. Goes to show that mixing politics and religion does neither group any good.
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Old 02-04-2024, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Elsewhere
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Proceed carefully. We don't want this thread to turn political; however, there are some political references mentioned as historical context. Please keep the discussion to Religion & Spirituality. Thank you.
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Old 02-04-2024, 10:13 AM
 
63,808 posts, read 40,077,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I randomly turned on the TV while nursing my first coffee of the day yesterday, and CNN of all people was doing a reasonably good (if insufficiently in-depth) interview with a couple of evangelicals. One was a black guy who is so tired of expending the energy to explain that he's not "that kind" of evangelical (white, typically arch-conservative, against helping the disadvantaged) that he no longer accepts it as a label. The other one was hispanic.
<snip>
One comment only about the straw man "politically-charged" characterization in the bold. It is not true of even the most fundamentalist of the fundamentalists, IMO. They disagree about what is "helping them," as defined by the liberal elite who don't want to be "bothered with them" just throw money in their direction, (how is that for a "politically-charged" characterization?).
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Old 02-04-2024, 12:12 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma
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I kind of see the fundamentalist-evangelical thing kind of being similar to the pentecostal-charismatic description. To a large degree you are describing groups of people who have something in common... but they are separated as much by social, financial and education level. This of course is on a general level.

As far as the racial part of the schism among so called "fundamentalists". When did this not exist? Black fundamentalists have always been at odds with their white ones regarding the social agenda. The fact that a Black man has to "explain" how he is not like "those (white) kinds of evangelicals" is maybe a new phenomenon. But I am curious Mr. Mordant can give us an idea of who he the man claimed was asking for an explanation in the article.

Quote:
One comment only about the straw man "politically-charged" characterization in the bold. It is not true of even the most fundamentalist of the fundamentalists, IMO. They disagree about what is "helping them," as defined by the liberal elite who don't want to be "bothered with them" just throw money in their direction, (how is that for a "politically-charged" characterization?).
I find this post fascinating within the context of the OP in that I have observed that from a political perch... Neither side wants to give the other side credit for the "help" that they provide to people. The OP says that fundamentalists are against "helping the disadvantaged". Meanwhile, Mystic's post says that liberal types (for this board let's say liberal Christians)... just want "money thrown at the problem" and don't want to get their hands dirty. Or they are derisively called "do gooders"... if they actually do get their hands dirty.


I have observed all kinds of people/organizations with all kinds of beliefs step up to help the needy. We have several programs around here that are arch conservative Christians that help people... and we have some that are the opposite who serve people. Heck, when the atheist convention was in town here a few years back, before they dispersed they all assembled 2,000 box lunches for the needy here in OKC.
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Old 02-04-2024, 12:28 PM
 
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Personally, I’m tired of the media and certain politicians always dividing/separating us up into these various different identity boxes.
If a person is finding that the teachings of and a personal relationship with Jesus is transforming and guiding their life in some positive way who REALLY cares what race or denomination they are? besides the politicians and the media…..
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Old 02-04-2024, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
50,806 posts, read 24,310,427 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainrose View Post
Personally, I’m tired of the media and certain politicians always dividing/separating us up into these various different identity boxes.
If a person is finding that the teachings of and a personal relationship with Jesus is transforming and guiding their life in some positive way who REALLY cares what race or denomination they are? besides the politicians and the media…..
What they do in their private lives is one thing.
What they do in their public lives is something else all together.
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Old 02-04-2024, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
19,995 posts, read 13,475,998 times
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Originally Posted by eddie gein View Post
As far as the racial part of the schism among so called "fundamentalists". When did this not exist? Black fundamentalists have always been at odds with their white ones regarding the social agenda. The fact that a Black man has to "explain" how he is not like "those (white) kinds of evangelicals" is maybe a new phenomenon. But I am curious Mr. Mordant can give us an idea of who he the man claimed was asking for an explanation in the article.
He claimed he gets asked it all the time by all sorts of people but he was not pressed on details.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie gein View Post
Neither side wants to give the other side credit for the "help" that they provide to people.
Yes the definition of "help" is key here.

Back in the day we ran "rescue missions" in "skid row" areas and how we "helped" people in that instance was to provide them a place to sleep and some food in exchange for listening to an evangelical sermon. The implication was that if you admit you're a dirty rotten sinner you will be saved not only from hell but from the grip of your addictions. We actually believed that, and of course when it comes to addiction disorders, shame is actually driving the problem, so if you lead with shame you are going to tend to make matters worse. This particular way of helping was also not 100% "no strings attached", as attending the service was mandatory.

Similarly social justice concerns like racial or economic equality would be seen as virtuous by, say, a black congregation, and as evil, pernicious, the "social gospel" and, nowadays, likely, "woke" by many white congregations. I believe someone in this sub-forum not long ago mentioned a failed attempt at cooperation between the Mormons and the Church of God involving distributing food to the needy, where the COG folks felt they were just enabling laziness or whatever, and the rank and file people overturned whatever high level decision had been made to cooperate with the Mormons. There were concerns about doctrinal differences as well IIRC, but it was also a difference in what constitutes the set of things that "help" a particular issue.

Mystic correctly points out that "helping" might be purely donating money to a cause which might at times be in preference to actually engaging with the disadvantaged or pushing for change that would actually get at root causes, but in other cases might be truly be the best someone can offer to the situation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie gein View Post
The OP says that fundamentalists are against "helping the disadvantaged". Meanwhile, Mystic's post says that liberal types (for this board let's say liberal Christians)... just want "money thrown at the problem" and don't want to get their hands dirty. Or they are derisively called "do gooders"... if they actually do get their hands dirty.
We've had, for instance, Baptists come here claiming (and I for the most part believe them) that they have no-strings-attached public good works that they do in their communities and it's part of their culture. Other churches, not so much (and I speak from personal experience here with my own fundamentalist tribe of origin; that kind of thing simply wasn't on our radar).

It is tricky to make reasonably accurate generalizations here. All I mean is that in general the more authoritarian a group is, the more insular they are, and therefore the more suspicious they are of tending to physical and mental suffering our of compassion apart from the evangel. Exceptions tend to prove the rule rather than undermine it. But you can't put any one individual, and often any one church, in a box as part of a monolith. I think the point of the news item I was citing is that evangelicals of color tend to be more theologically and/or politically liberal with certain exceptions. And since evangelicals of color are increasing in numbers and white evangelicals are decreasing, the overall demographic is becoming less rigid and dogmatic. Even if we confine our discussion to the religious or social impact, it will be substantial.

It remains to be seen how this will play out but it also fits with my understanding of moral evolution in religion vs in society. I think that religion is pushed by society to less simplistic and more enlightened (and pragmatic) moral positions on various issues. Fundamentalists of the 1920s would consider most fundamentalist of the 2020s to be a bunch of degenerates ... the women are showing leg and cleavage; fundamentalists now go to popular entertainments and listen to popular music styles including very lurid ones by the standards of 100 years ago ... therefore even fundamentalism is forced to evolve because most flavors of it don't want to forego technology, modern styles of dress or modes of living so they gradually rationalize changing their behavioral standards. They feel they are taking a stand for morality by simply being perpetually 20 years behind the times. They speak in terms of absolutes but don't actually hold to literal absolutes.

One thing I don't know much about is the degree to which evangelicals of minority/color identification are less literalist, whether they tend to hold to things like young earth creationism or not, etc. You hear stories of Christians who are stalwart believers that, say, LGBTQ people are moral degenerates -- until one of their children comes out of the closet, and then they become very quiet or even change churches rather than shun or sanction their child. Maybe that is all this is ... if you're evangelical and happen to be black, for example, you will tend to fit the theology to your personal experience of the injustice of discrimination, but otherwise you go with the same defaults as everyone else.
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Old 02-04-2024, 01:54 PM
 
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Mordant — any news on your wife’s condition yet? We are all hoping the best for you !
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