By Rudy Barnes,Jr., October 22, 2022
David Graham has confirmed what I have long suspected. Southern politics have escaped their geographical confines and gone nationwide to reshape the Republican Party. It’s now conservative, religious and dominant in America’s (red) heartland, while the Democratic Party remains dominant in the cities; and our polarized politics are hardening those partisan divisions.
I’m non-partisan, and I'm not ashamed to be a southerner. In 1960 I marched with the Citadel Corps of Cadets through downtown Charleston to the Battery to celebrate the centennial of the first shots fired in the Civil War at the Star of the West as it attempted to resupply Fort Sumter. Today cadets no longer wave the Confederate flag, but the past lives on.
I can relate to participating in that Civil War enactment without shame. The evil of slavery and the Civil War are part of America's history, and should never be forgotten--or glorified. Many of America’s founding fathers who signed the U.S. Constitution were southerners, and most of today’s contentious issues have echoes from those antebellum days.
The limited role of government advocated by Thomas Jefferson continues to conflict with more expanded federalist roles advocated by Alexander Hamilton; and states’ rights continue to have relevance in a democracy that is once again coming apart at its seams. Americans have never learned how to reconcile their deepest and most divisive differences.
The Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, is a reminder of the fragility of America’s pluralistic democracy. America’s churches are either unable or unwilling to promote the reconciliation needed in a divided America, even though it was a moral imperative taught by Jesus. In American politics the Satanic urge to hate seems stronger than God’s moral imperative to love.
In the greatest commandment Jesus taught that we should love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves. Jesus also taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24); and Lincoln cited that moral imperative during our Civil War, when American churches were split on the issue of slavery. When will we ever learn?
Slavery is long gone, but racism continues to plague the church and American politics. Racism is no longer a Southern issue, but has gone nationwide. Although we’re far from perfect in the South, we seem to understand racial issues better than large cities outside the South; but because I'm an old white southern male I’m sure that my views are considered prejudiced.
Today American voters are split in polarized partisan politics that are defined along racial lines. Most churches remain racially segregated, with most white Christians voting Republican while most black Christians vote Democratic. The church lost its moral compass when it put exclusivist church beliefs ahead of the altruistic teachings of Jesus, and there’s little hope that the church will reverse those priorities of faith.
On David Graham’s article, The United States of Confederate America, see https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/confederate-monuments-survey-race-religion-education-divide/671639/.
According to David Brooks, the dysfunction in L.A. Is What Happens When Race Is Everything. See https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/13/opinion/la-city-council-racism.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article.
The following commentaries from 2015 are on religion, race and politics:
(7/5/15): Reconciliation as a Remedy for Racism and Religious Exclusivism
(7/12/15): Reconciliation in Race and Religion: The Need for Compatibility, not Conformity http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/07/reconciliation-in-race-and-religion.html
(7/19/15): Religion, Heritage and the Confederate Flag
(3/12/16): Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America
(3/26/16): Religion, Democracy, Diversity and Demagoguery
(7/9/16): Back to the Future: Race, Religion, Rights and a Politics of Reconciliation
(7/16/16): The Elusive Ideal of Political Reconciliation
(10/22/16): The Need for a Politics of Reconciliation in a Polarized Democracy
(11/19/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation Based on Shared Values
(11/26/16): Irreconcilable Differences and the Demise of Democracy
(2/18/17): Gerrymandering, Race and Polarized Partisan Politics
(8/19/17): Hate, History and the Need for a Politics of Reconciliation
(11/11/17): A Politics of Reconciliation that Should Begin in the Church
(12/9/17): Religion, Race and Identity Politics
(1/6/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Diversity in Democracy
(10/20/18): Lamentations of an Old White Male Maverick Methodist in a Tribal Culture
(12/29/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Justice in Religion and Politics
(3/9/19): Musings on the Degradation of Democracy in a Post-Christian America
(7/6/19): Musings on Democrats, Busing and Racism: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again
(7/13/19): Musings on Sovereignty and Conflicting Loyalties to God and Country
(7/20/19): Musings on Diversity in Democracy: Who Are Our Neighbors?
(9/21/19): An Afterword on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics from 2014-2019
#258 (11/2/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Polarization and Reconciliation
(2/1/20): Musings on the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Altar of Partisan Politics
(2/22/20): Musings on Why All Politics and Religion Are Local (and not Universal)
(7/11/20): Musings on America’s Culture War, Racism and Christian Morality in Politics
(8/1/20): Musings on Echoes from 1860 as America Seeks Truth and Reconciliation
(8//8/20): Musings on Religion and Racism: Belief in a White Jesus and White Supremacy
(8/15/20): Musings on Racism, Reparations, Racial Disparities and the Federal Reserve
(9/12/20): Musings on the Demise of American Democracy: Is It Deja Vu All Over Again?
(9/19/20): Musings on Law and Order, Reconciliation and Racial Justice
(11/7/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Good and Evil in Religion and Politics
(12/5/20): Musings on the Preference of White Christians for Demagoguery over Democracy
(1/16/21): Truth and Reconciliation in Politics and Religion in a Maze of Conflicting Realities
(Govern 2/13/21): Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in the Wake of the Second Trump Impeachment
(2/15/21): Counterpoint: The Danger of Racial Reparations as a Means of Restorative Justice
(3/27/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Civil Religion in a Divided America
(4/3/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Overcoming Racism
(6/12/21): From Hammond and Tillman to Trump: A Legacy of Shame for South Carolina
(6/26/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project
(7/3/21): Musings on Slavery and Systemic Racism on Independence Day
(7/10/21): Musings on the Need for Racial Reconciliation in America’s Divisive Democracy
(1/29/22): Musings on the Inadequacy of Religious Moral Standards in American Democracy
(2/19/22): Musings on Reconciliation to Resolve the Dilemma of Diversity in Democracy
(7/16/22): Musings on the Standards of Political Legitimacy of “Woke” Millennials
(7/23/22): Musings on Moderating Extremism in American Religion, Legitimacy and Politics
(8/6/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Moderating Hatred in Partisan Politics