BEASTS OF THE FIELD
Admittedly, I found the narrative about the Alt-Right and Christianity that Matthew Rose spun amusing and unconvincing and responded by lampooning it. After all, I’m a Lutheran who reads Rod Dreher and First Things. I’ve never read Alain de Benoist or Julius Evola. I’ve read Oswald Spengler and Friedrich Nietzsche, but I don’t consider their ideas to be the source of my own worldview.
Matthew Rose has a preconceived narrative: the Alt-Right is anti-Christian. In order to further this narrative, he cites the Alt-Right’s leading atheists – Greg Johnson and Richard Spencer – and dives into the European roots of Identitarianism. Like any good Nietzschean, he traces the genealogy of the Alt-Right to Alain de Benoist and the European New Right and Julius Evola and Radical Traditionalism. This is how he reaches the shocking conclusion that the Alt-Right is pagan and fundamentally anti-Christian.
As I said in the previous article, the Alt-Right is united by the belief that “race exists, race matters and race is the foundation of identity.” This is why there are atheists, agnostics, pagans and Christians who identify and affiliate with the Alt-Right. The movement has always been internally divided over religion. The people who join the Alt-Right subscribe to a broad range of religious perspectives, but all of us are equally stigmatized and dissent from the mainstream on this particular issue.
The truth is that the origin of my racial views … are American! I find the notion that the Alt-Right is incompatible with Christianity to be preposterous. It is on the same level as the argument made by Russell Moore that the cross and Confederate flag “cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire.” In reality, the cross and the Confederate flag got along swimmingly well during the historical Confederacy and for generations thereafter. No one in the South at the time perceived any contradiction between the two. Southerners became more intensely Christian during and after the War Between the States. The argument was made that God had allowed the Confederacy to be bathed in blood, its cities destroyed, and its enemies triumphant in order to test and sanctify His favored people.
The Alt-Right’s credo that “race exists, race matters and race is the foundation of identity” was the conventional wisdom of the American South for centuries. This view was also the mainstream view in White America until the Second World War. If Christianity in “its original and most animating form is fundamentally incompatible with the Faustian ethic and race-based mythos of the alt-right,” then it follows that the United States which was founded and settled by Christians would have never existed in the first place. Every American president from George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower was a racist. The Fourteenth Amendment had to be passed in order for blacks to become American citizens.
If the Alt-Right is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity, then how did we come to live in this multiracial society in the first place? The answer is that race realism and Christianity were not thought to be incompatible until modern times. In the past, Christians came up with all sorts of ingenious theological arguments to rationalize everything from race realism to slavery to white supremacy to colonialism. The Puritans had their errand in the wilderness as the New Israel. The Spanish conquest of the New World was blessed by the Papacy. Africans in the South were said to be afflicted by the Curse of Ham which doomed them to be the “servant of servants.” Growing up in the Jim Crow South, my father-in-law was taught that blacks were “the beasts of the field” found in the Old Testament.
According to the Ten Commandments, Christians are instructed not to covet our “neighbor’s wife, or his or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The Old Testament is full of genocides. Jesus Christ had nothing to say about racism and neither did Christendom until the 20th century. It was communists who came up with the notion that “racism” is a sin and it was the Soviet Union that started propagating that doctrine in the 1920s. The Southern Baptist Convention didn’t discover that racism was immoral until the 1990s – the last major institution in American society to come to this realization. The vast majority of Southern Christians opposed the Civil Rights Movement and its hated crusade for “social equality” just as their denominations had split over abolition in the antebellum era.
If anything is true, my racial views are a bit milder than my Christian ancestors who once believed in slavery and polygenesis in the 19th century. Unlike my Christian ancestors, I don’t believe in the Curse of Ham or that blacks are the products of miscegenation with chimpanzees in West Africa. I don’t believe that blacks are the pre-Adamite “beasts of the field” like Southerners did in the Jim Crow South. I only bring this up to point out this was the mainstream view at the time and to show that race realism and Christianity were fundamentally compatible. The politically correct view that race realism and Christianity are “fundamentally incompatible” has been a minority opinion throughout most of American history. It also wasn’t the church which challenged and overthrew white supremacy.
Connor Grubaugh argues that I believe that “Christianity lacks any truth conditions whatsoever—that it is devoid of content, a mere vessel of empty signs and symbols, to be filled with foreign substances and remolded to suit them.” No, I am just not historically illiterate enough to make disingenuous theological arguments, especially ones which are flatly contradicted by the history of my own people. I’m on solid historical ground when I point out that Christianity easily adapted itself to racialism, slavery, imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy and much else besides in the New World, Africa and Asia. Christians had sound theological arguments to justify all of these things.
How do we explain this? Is there simply no truth to Christian doctrine? My view is that the church has traditionally seen its job as the salvation of individual souls. The Kingdom of God isn’t of this world. The church has traditionally drawn distinctions between spiritual equality – the idea that all human beings have souls and are made in the image of God, which is why the church has resisted polygenesis, Darwinism and eugenics – and physical equality or equality in status and condition. The ease with which the church has accommodated the political establishment and adapted to a bewildering variety of authoritarian and hierarchical cultures through history is due to this otherworldly focus.
I suppose you could say that I don’t take American Christianity all that seriously when the Lutheran Church has condemned Martin Luther for anti-Semitism. In my view, it is plainly a subordinate subculture. It follows the dominant Jewish mainstream secular culture like a shadow – the idea that “racism” is immoral, interracial adoptions, political correctness, signaling over gay marriage which has recently become fashionable. None of this stems from Christian doctrine so much as it does from the dominance of the mass media and basic human nature which is to yearn for social acceptance. Christian leaders want to be seen as respectable and in step with the secular mainstream.
Perhaps this is the real reason why we are now hearing that “the Alt-Right is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.” The Alt-Right is being criticized by the political and cultural establishment. So naturally this is why their handmaidens in the church have followed suit. A few years from now, Christian conservatives will be arguing that transphobia is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. The past will also be conveniently discarded in the pursuit of mainstream respectability.