CGI on Racial Tensions
Always timely, the Church of God International has moved on from the Coronavirus to a discussion of racial tensions in the United States. This time the topic is handled via a “web chat” featuring pastors Bill Watson and Adrian Davis. Unfortunately, like the previous offerings on the pandemic, this one rapidly assumes the characteristics of an apologetic for right-wing conspiracy theories.
In fact, before the dialogue even started, I was struck by the absence of CGI’s most prominent African American minister, Bronson James. One has to wonder why a black Canadian pastor was chosen for this topic instead of the most prominent black voice within their U.S. churches. Could it have anything to do with the fact that Pastor Davis agrees with Pastor Watson’s conspiracy theories about a Marxist-Globalist agenda?
As the conversation proceeds, we see that this is exactly what is at work in this presentation. Pastor Davis begins by proclaiming that President Barack Obama was/is a neo-Marxist. Davis moves on to suggest that there is a dark conspiracy at work to bring down America. There is no recognition that anyone might be motivated by a desire to make America better – to extend the promise of America to all of her citizens. Pastor Davis insists that protesters are being played by powerful interests who do not really care about them or their demands for justice.
Pastor Watson quickly agrees and introduces his favorite whipping boy, George Soros, into the mix. He then proceeds to declare that these are facts, not conspiracy theories! He suggests that Soros is funding all of this unrest and implies that he is doing so to bring down America. Pastor Watson even implies that Soros is paying and training people to protest and sew discord.
The pastors then unite to tag-team the Black Lives Matter movement. Pastor Watson plays the good cop by lifting some noble quotations from their mission statement, but Pastor Davis immediately sets him straight. Davis informs us that it is a false narrative that blacks are being oppressed. He goes on to point out that the movement is queer affirming and opposed to heteronormative thinking. He tells us that no self-respecting Christian should even consider supporting such a movement.
Pastor Watson then inaugurates a brief discussion about the destruction of Confederate memorials. He suggests that folks are trying to rewrite history and undermine our forefathers. There is no acknowledgment that the objects of these memorials were traitors to the United States and were fighting (at least in part) to defend the institution of slavery. The pastors then conclude this segment with the suggestion that the ultimate objective of these iconoclasts is the subversion of the U.S. Constitution!
So, according to the Church of God International, there is no real problem here. This is just a bunch of neo-Marxists and homosexuals intent on the destruction of America. All of these racial tensions are indicative of “spiritual drunkenness” that people with nefarious motives are using for their own dark ends. The implication is that systemic racism and racial injustice are just illusions – a false narrative that has been promulgated to bring down America.
In providing a platform for this kind of discussion, it is clear to me that the Church of God International has decided that their best hope for appealing to a larger audience will be found among folks who support Donald Trump. They have clearly identified themselves with one side in the “Culture War.” In keeping with the times, they have staked out a clear political identity for themselves – one that eschews the center and the left. The obvious question that this brings to mind: Is that what a Christian Church should be doing?