Fear is perhaps the most dominant emotion in our society today and it seems especially among white population in the southern States. Everyone outside that area recognizes that the “red” States are for the most part very conservative, rural, and fundamentalist Christian. When I came across this article over at Red Letter Christians it got my attention because it was from a woman who I would guess is from the South. She seems to genuinely want to help all southerners realize that much of their fears are not from themselves but from the lessons they have learned from those who came before them. Here are some words from that article.
White friends in America’s Southland, we are living in a scary world. In any given month it seems there are fresh stories of black people marching in protest, Muslim terrorists attacking, non-English speakers crossing our borders. Anyone overhearing us can tell we are afraid – of being attacked, of being taken over, of losing the power that has always belonged to us white people…
Our fears are confirmed through the media we choose to follow. Most Southern white folk prefer conservative cable news, listen to conservative talk radio, and attend small Christian churches where the leaders get their fears from the same news channel and talk shows. All of this confirms our fears, and the religious component adds even more glue, cementing our fears into our view of God.
Why do these media outlets, talk show hosts, and certain renowned religious leaders confirm our fears? We Southern white people are such a large block of people that, as hard as it is for us to ever admit it, we are being manipulated and used by many of these entities. They are getting rich and powerful by feeding our fears, and they have all learned that our Christian religion is so important to most of us that all they have to do is throw God into their mix and we will follow them anywhere. What’s sad, but not new, is that many of us will perpetuate these fears even when we do not benefit from them.
As Christians we believe that God is far greater and far more complex than our finite human minds can begin to conceive. We also believe that God sent Jesus to model for us how we should live as human beings. Jesus did not live in the South, nor even in America, but in the Middle East where there were cultural taboos against interacting with Samaritans, touching lepers, talking to women . . . But Jesus broke the taboos. Jesus condemned the churchy people who were more interested in rules and laws than in human beings. He preached unity for all his followers, and reaching out in active love to all people. And humility. Humility–the hard first step to allowing God to change our own stubborn and proud minds.