Imagine if I or any white Christian stood up in front of a group of people in a church building and said, “All black people are going to hell!” Can you imagine the standing ovation with thundering applause that would follow?
Yeah, me neither.
In fact, if any Christian said such a thing I would expect lots of deserved public and private rebuke. So, when 91 year old, Civil Rights icon, Joseph Lowery recently said that all white people are going to hell1 – I would hope for the same type of rebuke. Lowery is a professing Christian, a United Methodist minister who is often referred to as ‘Reverend’. After his comments, however, Lowery claimed he was joking.2
Joking or not, Lowery’s words are not well taken, especially, for a professing Christian leader.
Lowery’s comments are a good example of poorly mixing Christianity and politics as he was campaigning for President Obama’s reelection. It seems that Lowery’s views on white people and hell were not always a joking matter though.
“We’ve turned our backs on the faith,” said Lowery. “America is going to hell in a hand basket. We need to straighten up so God can use us.”
Lowery said that when he was a young militant, he used to say all white folks were going to hell. Then he mellowed and just said most of them were. Now, he said, he is back to where he was.
“I’m frightened by the level of hatred and bitterness coming out in this election,” said Lowery.3
What an odd combination of contradictory comments. One might take away from Lowery’s comments that the only way God can us Americans and prevent America from going to hell is to elect Obama. I’m not sure I want to touch the question of where Lowery’s statement on whites and eternity would place Obama given his racially mixed background.
Religion seems a larger issue in this election since Romney is a Mormon and Mormons have a terrible doctrinal track record on race relations. Ironically, even leaders in the Mormon cult with their awful racist positions against black people still thought that blacks could eventually enter heaven.
“Several leaders, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W. Kimball, taught that black people would eventually be able to receive a fullness of glory in the celestial kingdom.”4
Thankfully, Americans are not electing a Christian pastor, elder, bishop, deacon, minister, etc. Rather, each voter (hopefully informed) will cast their vote for whom they believe will best lead this country. Some Christians are not comfortable with Obama or Romany and will vote for neither. Other Christians will vote for Obama or Romney as one of the lesser of two evils.
It is not a secret that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. Nor is it a secret that many Christians do not embrace Obama’s Black Liberation Theology as a good representation of biblical Christianity.
My question: In which Presidential election has either of the choices been a godly Christian?
American Christians can only hope for the day when one of the Presidential candidates is a godly Christian. In the mean time, Christians can do their best to vote for the candidate who they prayerfully conclude is closest to upholding biblical principles. We can also trust our sovereign God with who will ultimately be elected President.
Finally, are all black people and all white people going to hell? No. While the gospel may inform a Christian’s vote, it is not a club designed to knock one’s political opponents. Some how, in all of our sinful glory, Christians have got to learn to have better gospel conversations in the political realm. And regardless of race, hell is reserved only for those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For what it’s worth…