Lesson 12: Overcoming Our Political Divisions (Part 2)

Rev. William Barber IIWhen I began this series on the church and politics about 3 months ago, I am not sure I even knew the term “Christian Nationalist.” As the media has recently discovered this group, more and more people have become concerned about their activities. So many, in fact, that I have never had so many people talking to me about what I have posted. This series has almost written itself.

For instance, last week I suggested we need a leader like Martin Luther King to speak for the group my wife calls the “Kind Christians.” Now the media goes to preachers of those she labels the “Christian Wrong” to get commentary on church and state issues. No sooner had I posted then a CNN article reported Rev. William J. Barber II called the Christian Nationalists a heresy.

I found this significant because Yale Divinity School recently called Pastor Barber to head a new Center for Public Theology and Public Policy. He says he hopes to train a new generation of leaders who will be comfortable “creating a just society both in the academy and in the streets.” I wonder if this also places him in a position to speak for us. At least CNN has already gone to him as a spokesperson.

Relative to our series, Pastor Barber advocates a fusion politics which brings people together rather than creating a we-they impasse. After he wrote The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, many spoke of him as the closest we have to Dr. King.

We all should keep an eye on what develops, but for now let me go back to what I intended to write for this lesson. Recently, I attended a lecture delivered by Pamela Cooper-White based on her book The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn In and How to Talk Across the Divide.

Her first piece of advice was simply to show compassion as you would or should in any face-to face conversation. She mentioned listening and then using “I statements” rather than absolute claims. In other words, talk about what you think rather than truths everyone should know.

I felt her second suggestions were more helpful. They gave permission to walk away when you recognized talking would be fruitless. She was referring to situations when there was an imbalance of power or the other party simply was not ready to listen.

She called for patience, understanding it is unrealistic to expect an immediate change of mind. Sometimes it takes time for ideas to sink in and people to come to terms with what is said.

When speaking face-to-face doesn’t work, she suggested we should turn to education and advocacy. We do well to remember most of the religious people who appear in the Bible do not speak for God, but actually persecuted and even killed those who do.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.