“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. – Matthew 23:29-31
Much is being written today about intolerance in the USA toward Christians. I even read the term Christianophobia today. There is some partial truth to the claims in certain sections. But, it is also equally true that Christians in the USA have earned themselves a reputation among progressives as being those who will oppose change now but maybe even embrace it a few decades from now, claiming that if they lived in those days, they, “… would not have been partakers with them …” in opposing what is now social change supported by Christians. It is that reputation that is causing us problems now. Let me take you for but a quick tour of the problems.
Slavery – slavery was strongly supported by pastors in the South and many parts of the North. “Slavery, Ordained of God” was written by a Presbyterian pastor and used a literal interpretation of Scripture to show that even the New Testament did not oppose slavery, but only governed it. So strong was the support of pastors and congregations in many parts of the country for slavery that no Christian needed to fear being excommunicated for upholding slavery. Entire denominations split over the “Biblical” issue of slavery, and its being considered a doctrine primary enough that it was necessary to split the Church.
Women’s suffrage – women’s suffrage was often opposed by Christians. The Roman Catholic Church was one of the strongest opponents to the vote for women, arguing that giving women the vote would be tantamount to dishonoring the role of the Virgin Mary in salvation. But they were not the only ones. Many Christian groups opposed women’s vote.
- In the late 1880’s Congress actually passed a law, later upheld by the Supreme Court, that took away the women’s right to vote from the women of Utah, who had been given that right by their Mormon men!
- “God meant for women to reign over home, and most good women reject politics because woman suffrage will destroy society,” (Rev. John William – Episcopal priest).
- “Suffragism [is] Gripped by Feminism. … lust and immorality … Must men put on the iron glove?” (Adolf Hult – Lutheran pastor).
- The Nebraska Men’s Association even argued that it was the Founding Fathers’ original intent that women not have the vote. [Note: that is why I am so against original intent arguments. They inevitably are wildly misused and quote only a few Founders.]
Miscegenation – there were many pastors publically against marriage among different races. The most frequent argument was that God had created us to breed after our own kind, and that to marry outside our own kind was to not believe in a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. In the 1950’s over half the states had anti-miscegenation laws, openly supported by the churches. Please note that miscegenation was not overturned until after I was already in high school in 1967!
- “Although there is no verse in the Bible that dogmatically says that races should not intermarry, the whole plan of God as He has dealt with the races down through the ages indicates that interracial marriage is not best for man,” (Bob Jones University, 1998).
- “…moral or social equality between the different races…does not in fact exist, and never can. The God of nature made it otherwise, and no human law can produce it, and no human tribunal can enforce it. There are gradations and classes throughout the universe. From the tallest archangel in Heaven, down to the meanest reptile on earth, moral and social inequalities exist, and must continue to exist throughout all eternity,” – Georgia Supreme Court, 1869.
- “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races show that he did not intend for the races to mix,” (Judge Leon M. Bazile of Virginia in 1963 in a ruling upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court).
Various laws, all supported by Christians – I could collect the quotes, but instead let me give you a list of some things a woman could not legally do by herself in most states in the 1960’s. These are quoted from this helpful article.
- Get a credit card: In the 1960s, a bank could refuse to issue a credit card to an unmarried woman; even if she was married, her husband was required to cosign. As recently as the 1970s, credit cards in many cases were issued with only a husband’s signature. It was not until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 that it became illegal to refuse a credit card to a woman based on her gender.
- Serve on a jury: It varied by state (Utah deemed women fit for jury duty way back in 1879), but the main reason women were kept out of jury pools was that they were considered the center of the home, which was their primary responsibility as caregivers. They were also thought to be too fragile to hear the grisly details of crimes and too sympathetic by nature to be able to remain objective about those accused of offenses. In 1961, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Florida law that exempted women from serving on juries. It wasn’t until 1973 that women could serve on juries in all 50 states.
- Get an Ivy League education: Yale and Princeton didn’t accept female students until 1969. Harvard didn’t admit women until 1977 (when it merged with the all-female Radcliffe College). With the exception of the University of Pennsylvania, which began accepting women on a case-by-case basis in 1876, and Cornell, which admitted its first female student in 1870 (also offering admission under special circumstances), women couldn’t attend Ivy League schools until 1969 at the earliest.
I have not even taken you on a tour of all the things African-Americans could not do until the various civil rights laws. But, if you are wondering why African-Americans consistently vote progressive, let me tell you that it has nothing to do with wanting hand-outs. In fact, that reason is indeed one of the more racist statements there is because it buys into the “lazy, shiftless” stereotype about blacks that conservative whites love to hold on to. It is because of all they suffered under a white conservative Christian interpretation of what God and Scripture want.
Domestic violence — under this heading, I am somewhat flabbergasted. This one comes from the Russian Orthodox Church and was posted just a few days ago, however, it reflects Christian attitudes present in the USA several decades ago.
- “A Russian Orthodox archbishop who heads a patriarchal commission for children’s and mothers’ rights has criticized advocacy campaigns against domestic violence, arguing that they constitute ‘anti-family propaganda’ and pose a threat to society. … While data on domestic violence is scarce in Russia, statistics presented by the State Duma Committee on Public Health in 2012 showed that some 40 percent of all violent crimes in Russia were committed within families.”
- Now, lest you think that this is just those Russians, an USA website called Christian Domestic Discipline states,
- “Did you notice? There are more verses which could be interpreted as relating to the discipline of adults, or interpreted as relating to the discipline of either adults or children, than there were verses which specifically related to the discipline of children? Do these verses unequivocally state that God would literally cut a switch or grab His belt and physically turn each person over His knee? Of course not. However, while these verses do not command the physical discipline of adults, they do not condemn it either.”
- One of their articles from their forum states: “Well I finally got my first Spanking! Thanks to a suggestion and my loving HOH’s permission it was a ‘test’ spank. I think he probably smacked my bottom about 10 times (bare bottom, OTK, with his hand). AND GUESS WHAT?? I WASN’T SCARED!!!! Now I have a renewed confidence in our decision to live a CDD lifestyle. Ok, I know what you’re thinking…… It’s pretty easy to accept the spanks when you get to control them. Yep, it sure is! Hubby also informed me that we are going to be working on a habit I have that he can’t stand. He is giving me enough leeway so I am not really stressed about it, and since our ‘test’ spank, I know what I’m in for if I fail. That alone gives me a strong desire to please him.”
Catch what both the Russian archbishop and the CDD website are saying. Some level of domestic violence is actually OK and something that God wants/allows and Scripture supports. The idea that a husband had the right to physically discipline a wife was much more common in the middle of the 20th century. But, as you can see, there are still those who defend it today as being appropriate and godly. And, no, all progressives are not going around saying that you cannot physically discipline children. That is a separate subject. But, they are correctly saying that there is no excuse for physically disciplining adults and that physical discipline of children needs to have enough limits to ensure that child abuse is not happening. If you think that child abuse is not a problem among Christians, I urge you to go talk to any law enforcement officer, and they will quickly disabuse you of that notion. Yet, it is conservative Christians, even today, who have most claimed that attempts to control child abuse are simply hidden ways to control “innocent” Christian families. In most cases, this ranges from being a wild exaggeration to being an out and out fabrication.
But, let me return to my original point.
As Christians many of us behave as though we have done absolutely nothing to earn the type of verbal beatings that we often get from secularist progressives. We claim that it is because they are anti-God. There is no doubt that some secularists are anti-God. But, many secularists are simply looking at our own social history in this country, a history of supporting the worst parts of our country, a history of supporting inequality, domestic abuse, and racism. And, every time, we have done it in the name of being faithful to God and Scripture. And every time it has been more than some tiny minority doing the supporting.
Finally, we have a tendency to respond exactly like those people whom Jesus addressed. Oh, we say, if we had lived in those times, we would have been against slavery; we would have been against miscegenation laws; we would have given women the vote immediately; we would have had integrated counters; we would have [fill in the blank]. But, secularists today look at our record. And, the conservative Christian record in the USA to this day is one of opposing social change in the name of God and Scripture. This is not to say that all change is godly or good. I am pro-life and pro-marriage. But it is to say that one need only look at who is leading the conservative charge today against almost any change proposal. Whether it is immigration reform, equal pay protection, environmental laws, anti-gerrymandering laws, minimum pay reform, benefits reform, social security overhaul (real overhaul, not merely gutting the system), election and voting laws, pension law reform, domestic abuse, there are conservative Christians saying that all those matters are matters in which God and Scripture insist that they must be dismantled and not handled by any government.
Is it any surprise that secularist progressives look with great disfavor upon conservative Christians? It is not because they hate God. It is because they dislike the policies that are being supported and they assume (based on history) that 50 years after the change in social policy Christians will be saying that they support those policy changes.