In the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, President Donald Trump faced heavy criticism for his initial refusal to call out the hate groups responsible for the attack that left one person dead and dozens wounded. But as Trump waffled, religious leaders, many of whom are on the president’s Evangelical Advisory Board, were quick to denounce the alt-right, KKK, and white supremacists involved as evil, satanic, and antithetical to Christian values.
While most people would not object to likening the racist and hateful ideologies of such groups to the devil, the Washington Post published a curious op-ed on Wednesday that rails against Christianity, while arguing Satan is not to blame for tragedies like Charlottesville. Written by Lucien Greaves, founder of the Satanic Temple, the article chides politicians and religious figures for “fitting the events” in Charlottesville “into their preferred narratives.” Greaves calls out “Christian leaders” like Franklin Graham for having the audacity to suggest “Satan was at fault.”
“As the co-founder of and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, I’m naturally irritated by such comments,” he wrote. “To many casual observers, there seems to be a tendency to view condemnations of white supremacy as Satanism as a triumph of progressive thought among prominent U.S. Christians.”
“But such language is not harmless,” he continued. “It lets mainstream religions off the hook for some of the darker periods of American history, despite the deep connections between slavery and Christian theology. These leaders’ invocation of the eternal adversary as a scapegoat comes with darker implicit assumptions that should be confronted and rejected outright.”
According to Greaves, the colloquial use of the word “Satanic” is wrong not only because it mischaracterizes the beliefs of Modern Satanism but also because it simultaneously defines Christianity as the moral alternative.
In allowing the colloquial use of “Satanic” to stand unopposed as a blanket term to describe all that is reprehensible and morally corrupt, one also tacitly affirms the implied opposite, that Christianity defines all that is just and morally sound. Correcting this assumption is more than a matter of embittered punitive nitpicking; it’s a matter of maintaining fidelity to historical facts so that we might more appropriately confront the dire issues of the present. It’s a matter of undermining the destructive certainty of moral authority held by the superstitious.
Citing slavery as an example, Greaves states that while “religious authorities” believe their doctrines “have guided the rights of revolution,” religious teachings have “traditionally stalled and crippled it.”
Slavery in the United States was traditionally — and rather credibly, from a theological perspective — justified on scriptural grounds. The Ku Klux Klan is as much a religious Protestant sect as the Taliban or al-Qaeda are Muslim. The doctrine of the Christian Identity movement, with its spurious scholarship and militant apocalyptic urgency, forms the ideological backdrop of “virtually all white supremacist and extreme anti-government movements” in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League writes.
Allowing Christian leaders to merely disown Protestant radicalization by fiat absolves them of having to confront the problem. It’s one thing to disagree with the scriptural interpretation of a movement; it’s another to deny that the movement had any foundations in scriptural interpretations at all. Facing the problem of Protestant racism from within means acknowledging its existence and dedicating a certain amount of energy to maintaining a nonracist church, not merely claiming that such elements exist only when politically convenient.
Never mind the fact that, as Christianity Today reports, many of the Civil War-era abolitionists were Christian or the work of Christian charities and missions today are aimed at individuals and communities of all races, genders, and creeds, Greaves insists that America as a so-called “Christian Nation” is myopic and intolerant. Instead, he believes it is Satanism that is inclusive and respectful of individual rights and liberties.
Finally, it must be said that nothing could be more antithetical to modern nontheistic Satanism than racist ideologies. We embrace a large diversity of individuals from a wide spectrum of political and cultural backgrounds, but we’re all unified by our respect for individual rights and pluralism. It is axiomatic within Satanism that individuals must be judged for their own actions and for their own merits… We simply have no place for simple-minded supremacist, nationalist ideologues, and it’s impossible to interpret our tenets otherwise.
Ironically, much of what Moore and other preachers of superstition claim to know about Satanism is derived from a mythology constructed from libels against minority out-groups by Christian majorities. Pagans and Jews were early victims of violent purges, their practices deemed Satanic and intolerable. Native Americans and black slaves were often suspected and accused of Satanic activity in Early America. The vision for a “Christian Nation,” persistently fought for by evangelical theocrats, with its refusal to accept cultural diversity, holds that there is but one right way to live our lives, one lifestyle for all households, only one acceptable religious outlook that should be dictated to the nation at large, one god for one people. Is it really so mysterious that some among them might decide there’s a “right” race as well?
Read the entire op-ed HERE.
(H/T: Daily Wire)