Discover more from Footnotes by Jemar Tisby
Faith on the Ballot
White Christian nationalism versus the Black Christian Tradition
I was able to travel to Little Rock and interview a candidate for governor. That kind of flexibility is made possible by your support. Consider becoming a paid subscriber today.
In my first article for The Emancipator, I contrast the politics of white Christian nationalism and the Black Christian tradition.
I look in particular at the race for Arkansas governor and the two candidates—Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Chris Jones.
A highlight of writing this article is that I got to interview Chris Jones in person!
Read an excerpt from the article below…
One day at a Little Rock shopping mall, 8-year-old Chris Jones and his father ran into a man named Bill Clinton. As was this man’s habit, he stopped to talk, focusing intently on the conversation, despite the crowd. When Jones later asked who that man was, he was amazed to learn he was the governor of Arkansas.
The thing he will never forget about the encounter is, “I felt like I mattered,” says Jones, who grabbed the encyclopedia and looked up “governor” when he got home. Figuring this job was about helping people, a seed was planted.
The future is now, and Jones is the Democratic nominee for governor of Arkansas. His opponent, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, served as former president Donald J. Trump’s press secretary for the first two years. On opposite sides of the political spectrum, Jones and Sanders share one crucial aspect of their backgrounds in common: They are both the children of preachers, and both claim Christianity as central to their lives and politics.
When White Republican candidates and African American Democratic candidates speak of Christianity, they have drastically different political implications. The White Christian nationalism leads to authoritarianism, impediments to voting, and even violence to meet political ends. History demonstrates that the Black Christian tradition tends toward an expansion of voting rights and civil rights for all citizens.
Even when political candidates highlight the importance of Christianity in their lives and politics, what they believe about their faith and what policies they support as a result can be very different. When candidates say they follow the same religion and the same God, it can be confusing to figure out what they mean and how they practice their faith. The Christian Bible says you will know a tree by its fruit. To evaluate how individuals understand faith in relation to politics, one simply needs to observe the results of their policies.
What’s faith got to do with it? Sanders represents White Christian nationalism. Not only are Sanders and Jones in opposing parties, their professed faiths work themselves out very differently in the political realm.
Keep reading at The Emancipator.