The recent tweet from Pastor Tom Buck referring to Vice President Kamala Harris as a “Jezebel” invoked a long-standing racist and misogynistic image. Pastor Buck, an East Texas pastor and member of the Southern Baptist Convention, went on to defend his use of this image, citing the vice president’s stances on same-sex marriage and abortion. We believe his choice of words is wrong and rises to the level of malpractice in our profession.
Since its inception in 1845, the SBC has not hidden its disdain for Black people or Black women in leadership across the board. This sobering reality in no way gives them a blank check to use the biblical text to continue promoting the unholy subjugation of women and Black people.
While free speech is a part of the Constitution, it is clear that simply electing a Black woman to the second-highest office in the land does not mean our work is complete. And the task, for some, has just begun. Pastors and clergy must remain vigilant, standing firm against any attempt to use serious social issues as poison pills to spread the sort of racism and misogyny that continues to eat away at the fabric of our country.
Vice President Harris is not the first Black woman to be on the receiving end of racist and misogynistic statements from SBC pastors, allies and supporters. It is this insidious brand of racist and misogynistic “good ole boy” Christianity, thinly veiled as a moral stance for the so-called “protection of marriage” and “sanctity of life,” that has torn at the very fabric of Christian kinship.
The SBC and its members believe deeply in a brand of theology that gives them complete and unchecked moral authority over women, Black people and people of color generally. They worship a God that allows them to wink at the many biblical and moral failings of former President Donald Trump while wasting no time mishandling Scripture and wielding it as their personal and preferred tool of racism and misogyny against Black women.
Only history will record the extent of damage organizations like the SBC and individual clergy such as Pastor Buck have unleashed on the world. But we will not remain silent as so-called “men of God” use their position to shape our world in the image of a God that ignores racism and fears women’s power and leadership.
“We will not remain silent as so-called ‘men of God’ use their position to shape our world in the image of a God that ignores racism and fears women’s power and leadership.”
We must advocate for the issues near and dear to our hearts and our vision for America. But before we take our stance, our faith must first allow us to see all our neighbors as we see ourselves.
Pastors, let us take the lead in condemning an understanding of God that unflinchingly supports the use of race, culture and gender as tools of oppression, incarceration, economic disenfranchisement and murder. Let us stand for the leadership and dignity of women in our congregations and communities. And let us continue lifting the plight of the disenfranchised and marginalized in this country.
While we all may not see eye to eye on every political issue, we must agree that all people’s sanctity and dignity, regardless of race, gender, social standing or economic status is where our faith and politics intersect. If we genuinely love one another as Christ loves us, this form of radical inclusion must be our Lone Star.
Frederick Douglas Haynes III serves as pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. Ralph Douglas West serves as pastor of Church Without Walls in Houston.