Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is Methodist, said last week young people are leaving the church because Christianity is too “judgmental and alienating.”
“A lot of young people are leaving the Church, in part because the way they understand what Christianity has become … so judgmental, so alienating that they think to themselves, ‘Well, I don’t need that,'” Clinton explained on her podcast, “You and Me Both.”
In response, her guest, far-left activist preacher William Barber, said churches need to do a better job of explaining the transformative nature of Christianity, because younger people “are very open to faith that is about transformation, about love, about justice, about equality, about the essence — the essence of what it means to be people of faith.”
Earlier in their discussion, Clinton and Barber talked about the Black Lives Matter movement. The 2016 presidential candidate argued the three-word phrase is a “theological statement” because “Jesus and justice are the same thing.”
Clinton went on to claim Republicans have tried to co-opt Christianity.
“When you think about the very deliberate, concerted effort by one political party to basically try to own Christianity, and it overlooks the role of the African-American church, it overlooks, as you say, a lot of theology, a lot of history,” she said. “It also overlooks this moment in time. ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I view as, you know, very profoundly a theological statement.”
Barber explained that the U.S. once had a theology of “slaveholder religion” but has also espoused the “religion of the abolitionist,” which he linked to today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
He argued the protests across the country now are “birth pains” of what he described as a “third reconstruction.”
“We’ve had two reconstructions: one between 1868 and 1896, and then we had the second reconstruction, 1954 to 1968,” Barber said. “And I think America needs a third reconstruction. I think this is the birth pains of it.”
The preacher said Americans are in a place in which we can “come to terms not just with systemic racism as it affects black people, but systemic racism in all of its manifestations against brown people, against First Nations people, but also systemic poverty and ecological devastation and the war, economy and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism.”
He also urged people to run further to the left, echoing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) comments last month, when she said it’s not acceptable to be politically moderate.
“It’s going to require people that may run for office to be moderate, to recognize we’re not in a moderate moment, we’re in a reconstruction moment,” he said. “We’re in an FDR moment. We are not in normal times. And God help us if we blow this moment. That’s the way I feel about it.”