My strategy for finding topics to write about is to go to youtube and enter the words church and race in the search. This time in my search results, a clip from a Voddie Baucham sermon appeared about two spots down. This excited me because it’s been on my heart to consider and write about the thoughts of a person who is on the other side of the conversation than I am.
Critical race theory (crt) is the topic covered in the video. I just recently heard of this theory maybe within the last year and a half or so. I’ve heard it used as a counter to accusations of racism and calls to actively fight against discrimination. For example, I might say that black people experience police brutality at a higher rate than white people. To this, I can expect a dismissive response sort of like, “That’s critical race theory, which contradicts the Bible and can’t be taken seriously” - as though the lack of love and concern shown by that response completely aligns with Biblical principles.
I’m not writing this to make an argument for crt or against it, I’m just responding to the video. I did watch the full sermon but will only be responding to the clip in this writing. Side note - Voddie’s beard is really cool and I’m very jealous.
The Lego Movie
Voddie starts off by explaining what the principles of crt are. The first principle is, racism is normal. To help us remember this Voddie sings a song inspired by the Lego Movie. The tune Everything is Racist would be sung and met with laughter from the crowd more than once.
The use of humor here is strange. First of all, everything is racist is not the same as racism is normal. Voodie's giving a tool to his students to incorrectly remember something he’s teaching! Second, people are dying, souls are being lost, image bearers are searching for answers, and in this church they find mockery.
I’m mixed, half black and half white, and I grew up in a diverse community. Me and some friends and family would have no problem with this principle. Saying racism is normal is like saying water is wet. I also have friends and family who feel the opposite and cling to whatever arguments can be made to justify their position. So, there’s very real tension in our world that is aggravated right away by this first principle.
Do tensions or divisions make a principle wrong? My Christian senses are telling me to invoke Matthew 10:35-37, but I feel that I might be taking that scripture out of context if used here. I’ll do the next Christ-like thing and answer the question with a question. What about this principle creates tensions or divisions?
What is America
Over the years we’ve heard America being called different things. America is a free nation, a racist nation, a Christian nation, or one of the best movie lines ever, America is a business. So what is America? Exploring this might help us understand some things.
Voddie talks about the 1619 project, which is a contraversal series of essays examining the legacy of slavery and its impact on modern American life. The controversy addressed in this clip is the assertion that America was founded on slavery. This is refuted by claiming that America’s true founding was either on the Declaration of Independence, or more concisely the Constitution. But even after the creation of these documents, race based slavery would continue in America for nearly a century.
There are other issues historians have with the 1619 project that weren't mentioned. Some argue that slavery acutally began closer to the 1500’s in the America’s. Others feel calling slavery America’s original sin overshadows atrocities suffered by Indigenous people. Voddie cited neither of these as reasons to discard the study, allowing him to sidestep the harm that the 1619 project is attempting to bring attention to.
The story of America being founded on virtuous principles alone is a story that excludes mine. I’m asked to forget my ancestors' story so legacies of white men can be protected. Honest rebukes of Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, or Robert E Lee have been as much fodder for violent protests as anything. This version of history and the absence of BIPOC contributions is yet another reason for ominous clouds of inferiority to form in the little mental skies of black children - to quote MLK. It may be wise to suspect that this altered version of history has the opposite impact on the minds of white children, and to consider what that will mean for them.