(Newsweek) “We need to talk about race,” Phil Vischer says in a video posted June 14 on YouTube. The evangelical creator of VeggieTales, a children’s show that tells Bible stories using animated vegetables with names like Junior Asparagus and Pa Grape, tells viewers in his 17-minute video that Black households have one-tenth the wealth as white ones and delves into the history of Jim Crow laws, the “war on drugs” and “militarized police.” He talks about a TV news media that scares Americans with images of Black criminals and teachers who favor white kids due to their “unconscious bias.”
Call Vischer the tip of the spear of what critics call a “woke” Christian movement whose members have not only embraced the language of the left but also its chief goal of defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. They’ll do so, some say, if they can convince as little as 2 percent of the evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 to vote for Joe Biden in November. After all, he won in swing state Pennsylvania, for example, by just 44,000 votes, courtesy of white evangelicals. Pew Research indicates that Trump got 81 percent of the vote nationwide from white evangelicals in 2016 and his support in that group as of three months ago was at 82 percent.
But Vischer’s video can help chip away at that support, given it has been viewed 8 million times thus far, and Vischer told Newsweek 90 percent of the feedback he’s received has been positive. “Where there’s been pushback, it’s from people who say that the poor don’t work hard, or they don’t have fathers or take personal responsibility.”
Besides VeggieTales, now controlled by NBCUniversal and Trinity Broadcasting Network, Vischer also streams online his Mr. Phil Show, on which he says he “very intentionally introduces children to non-white Christian activists.” And before his June 14 video, he posted an online essay at his Holy Post blog titled, “Racial Injustice has Benefitted Me—A Confession,” along with a video rant calling Trump an “extreme” man who “encouraged violence against protesters.”
Many Christians on the woke side are also looking to distance themselves from the religious right, a group typically maligned in mainstream media and pop culture for its opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and other causes promoted by progressives. “There are hints of racism in the history of the religious right,” says Vischer.
While some practitioners of woke Christianity reject the term as a pejorative, some actually embrace it, like Eric Mason, the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia and author of Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice. At his website, he urges Christians to “learn the history of racism” and to “move beyond polite, safe conversations about reconciliation and begin to set things aright for our soon-coming King, who will be looking for a woke church.”
To detractors, though, woke refers to Christians who embrace the pro-choice position on abortion as well as gay marriage and, especially, Black Lives Matter. Christians, of course, were instrumental in ending segregation (Martin Luther King Jr., began his Letter From a Birmingham Jail with “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”), while many white slavery abolitionists, such as William Wilberforce, were passionate about their Christianity. But critics of being woke don’t object to the sentiment that Black lives matter but to the BLM organization, which they say promotes Marxism and critical race theory, a political position that argues racism is ingrained in American society.
Some of today’s woke are more obviously partisan than others, such as “Christians Against Trumpism & Political Extremism,” a nonprofit campaign from an organization dubbed Stand Up Republic that is seeking signatures for its petition against “dark and divisive voices in the Christian community.” The statement also excoriates faith leaders who “rush to the nearest news camera to minimize and justify the evil emanating from Washington” and it calls Trumpism “the intentional division and gleeful degrading of others made in God’s Image.” Trump’s supporters are criticized for their inability to “decry the president.”
Signers so far include dozens of pastors and theologians along with conservative columnist Mona Charen, former CIA Deputy Chief Steven Meyer and Dan Haseltine, the lead singer of Jars of Clay, a Christian rock band. Also signing are former Republican congressman Bob Inglis, Michael Gerson of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times.
Woke Christians veering left are becoming such an issue that entire podcasts are dedicated to maligning the trend. In one example, Matt Williams, whose podcast is dubbed Reformgelical, asks well-known evangelical Phil Johnson of Grace to You to explain “how the woke, social-justice movement” has been creeping into churches, and Johnson tells how his Methodist church in the 1960s was “destroyed” when it embraced political social-justice causes at the expense of Scripture. Today, “It’s almost impossible to argue against what they say is social justice without being labeled a racist or a hater,” Johnson says on the podcast.
“This is the No. 1 divide in evangelicalism in 100 years,” said JD Hall, a preacher who runs Pulpit & Pen, a website visited by about 1 million Christians a month. “The largest denominations in the country are splitting right down the middle on this. They’re being taken over by the woke elite. It’s huge…”
To continue reading the article, including the rest of JD’s comments about the misbehavior and malicious machinations of these woke Christians, click here
Editor’s Note. This article was written by Paul Bond and published at Newsweek. JD is featured a few times throughout. Title modified by Protestia.