Repudiating Any and All Forms of White-Supremacy

June 17, 2020

Bishop Emeritus David Kendall

Making clear and informed statements about racism is a necessary part of leadership.  This is true not only of those who are now leading churches, businesses and organizations, but those who influence the leaders of our world.  Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus David Kendall is one of those influencers.  Having served faithfully for many years as pastor, superintendent and Bishop, Dr. Kendall also has an earned doctorate in Biblical studies.  Writing from this wealth of experience and training, Kendall recently wrote a blog on Racism.

He says in part:

“As a follower of Jesus, I repudiate racism.  This is a matter of commitment to Jesus as Lord.  It strikes me as unthinkable that any trace of racism should lodge in my heart, mind, spirit, sentiments, tendencies, actions or reactions.  Truly.  As soon as I say/write this, though, I recall other attitudes, feelings, tendencies, responses that once lingered within me for some time before I even knew it and then remained for some additional time as I dealt with them and put them aside.  I’m talking about things that are unworthy and contrary to the way of Jesus, such as anger, envy, bitterness and unforgiveness. Likewise, there are things I once put off by the grace of God only later to resurface, sometimes worse than before.  So, I do repudiate racism, and yet I am asking what lingers in my heart that I never knew was there?  Could there be anything within me or about me that allows or aides and abets the racism poisoning our world and threatening, harming and killing people of color?   This has led me to more helpful reflection.

Some would identify “racism” as America’s original sin.  But I would suggest it was more likely white supremacy which then gave birth to the racism that has pervaded our historical and social landscape.  Most instances of the racism we’ve seen (literally) played before our very eyes in recent years has an ideology of white supremacy as its ugly underbelly….”

“…many of the composers, approvers and signers of the Declaration owned slaves, and those who didn’t saw no problem with the Declaration as it was written.  At least, they did not find the enslaving of Africans incompatible with their Declaration.  So, what were they really saying when they wrote of “all men … endowed by their Creator … inalienable rights … life, liberty, pursuit of happiness?”

Another way to ask the question is this: to whom did “all men” refer?   Clearly it did not include persons of color who were then enslaved.   It also did not include women, white or of color.  The exclusion of women, in turn, confirms that their use of “men” was not a reference to all human beings.  They were excluding women and black people, and they were not declaring the equality and rights of either women or black people.

They were declaring the rights of white people, but especially of white men.  That they did not include persons of color suggests one of two things about how they regarded persons of color.  Persons of color are either not truly/fully human or have not been granted the God-given rights offered to the white men declaring their independence.  Whichever it was, they assumed the supremacy of white people.  They didn’t argue for it, they assumed it.  Then, on this basis, they fought to gain their independence and to form what they described in the Constitution as “a more perfect union.”

At its inception, our nation arose with the presumption of white supremacy, and “the more perfect union” they formed embraced (or enshrined?) the ideology that white people are superior to black people.  Sadly, the white church in America supported this either actively or passively, even within evangelical, revivalist, born-again, Pentecostal, Holiness churches.  Even in denominations which were abolitionist—it is possible to advocate for the freedom of slaves without pursuing their full equality, dignity, and opportunity as the Declaration champions.  It is possible to reject the evil of slavery while continuing to view yourself or group as superior.  Indeed, the presumed white supremacy of enslavers did not have to be renounced in order to emancipate slaves.  One racist practice and system was dismantled—the institution of slavery, but the demolition left its ideological foundation of supremacy largely undisturbed.  Racism’s ugly underbelly is this presumed superiority.  As with racism itself just a smidgen of such superiority corrupts everything it touches.

Therefore, it is not enough for followers of Jesus to repudiate racism (however they understand it).  Followers of Jesus must turn from, and repudiate, any and all forms of white-supremacy….”

To continue reading the entire statement click here.