As an inheritor of intentional Black evangelicalism embodied in NBEA—its premier institution—I serve as its current president. Being so, I am compelled in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Liberator, to lift my voice on behalf of the Black Evangelical collective in these times of political tumult and turmoil.
Quiet as it is kept, there is a collective of genuinely Black Evangelical voters. Though the image of this important political entity of African-descended Christians is often whitewashed in the media, they have not been whitenized by the white Evangelical world. These culturally authentic African-American believers are “certified” Black Evangelicals. The group has certain distinctive qualities which affirm their identity. An intensive meaning of this essential description comes later.
Once again the political climate and landscape covered by the media has raised the public consciousness about “Evangelical” voters, and which candidates court and win their support. Of course, the “Evangelicals” cited by the media are overwhelmingly white voters. Consequently, the strange religious-social hybrid of “Black Evangelicals” is neglected or viewed with a cross‑eyed perspective. With a broad brush, political pundits and practitioners incorrectly paint authentic Black Evangelicals in the image of their white counterparts. How the media portray them results in image-whitewashing of their unique Black Christian identity in the eyes of the public.
In contrast, there are other “non-certified” Evangelicals of dark hue. Many of them promote “color blindness” in Christian, cultural and political circles, and act accordingly. They tend to fit in comfortably with their white Evangelical assimilators. Sadly, these Evangelicals of black color are reaping from the whitewashing pundits and leaders the very invisibility they desire, or duly deserve. They have been whitenized by the brand of white evangelicalism they practice.
Unfortunately, in the media’s mix, some socially and politically progressive white Evangelicals are also painted pale in embarrassment. Though these compassionate white believers may be “certified” (i.e., culturally sensitized) according to cultural and biblical criteria of Black believers, the media also whitewash them. Various commentators associate and subsume them under the ideologies and voting patterns of their often toxic Evangelical white brethren. This broad and unfair association causes them much discomfort.
When warranted and appropriate, political commentators and social pundits would do everyone a favor by at least making a distinction between “white” Evangelicals versus “Black” Evangelicals, especially those who are “certified.” And there are also other beneficial distinctions that may be identified in the collective of each Evangelical racial group.
The media, however, are not primarily at fault in the whitewashing. They usually follow the lead of white Christian candidates and leaders. Black Evangelicals have a primary bone of contention with skewed proponents of white Evangelical ideas and their groups. They have hijacked the “Evangelical” name, and are not faithfully true to its essential biblical values and historical roots.
53rd-Year National Convention