The Virginia Republican Party evinced an odd and offensive notion of Christian values when it attacked a Democrat for speaking out against white supremacy.
Much as they have tried over decades to make it seem so, the Republican Party does not have a monopoly on faith.
But the Virginia GOP sure appears to think they do, unleashing a crude — not to mention ahistorical — attack on a Democrat who spoke out, from a Christian perspective, against white supremacy.
Tom Perriello, a former Virginia congressman, had recently taken to Twitter to call out his fellow white Christians who chose to ignore the issue of white supremacy while cloaking themselves in the mantle of their faith.
Any white pastor or priest not preaching this weekend on white supremacy as blaspheming the image of God in another is part of the problem.
— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) August 18, 2017
If you have a white pastor/priest who doesn’t preach on white supremacy as blasphemy against image of God in another, please say something.
— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) August 20, 2017
Rather than even attempt to address the substance of Perriello’s statements, the Virginia GOP chose instead to attack him. And as if it prove his point, the crude nature of the attack betrayed a stunningly narrow-minded view of who gets to lay claim to religious values, and in what way.
Retweeting a previous tweet from Periello in which he called out “White evangelical leaders [whose] whiteness is the golden calf you choose to worship and idolize, in blasphemy of God’s word,” the Virginia GOP’s Twitter account actually called him a “Christian-hating bigot.”
— Virginia GOP (RPV) (@VA_GOP) August 21, 2017
It is quite a strange tack to take, labeling someone who has worked as consultant to the National Council of Churches of Christ and helped launch faith-based advocacy organizations as a “Christian-hating bigot.”
Furthermore, opposition to white supremacy has long been a bedrock principle for many people of Christian faith, going back to abolitionists in the 19th century.
Not that all abolitionists were orthodox Christians, though a large proportion were. But even those who had left the church drew on unmistakably Christian premises, especially on one crucial point: slavery was sin. Sin could not be solved by political compromise or sociological reform, abolitionists maintained. It required repentance; otherwise America would be punished by God.
And even if that history were too far back in time for the Virginia GOP to recall, surely it is aware that Martin Luther King, Jr., did not speak only from street corners or stages, but from the pulpit as a Baptist minister.
Supporting the equal humanity of all is a moral issue, and pushing back against ideologies which seek to oppress people of color in the name of faith is in no way “hating” Christianity; it is championing the same biblical values of those who fought to end the horror of slavery and the repugnance of Jim Crow.
The Virginia GOP attacking a Democrat for using Scripture to call for empathy and equal justice is a perversion of the faith it claims to be defending.