Guest Post by Brent Stanfield
Christian supremacy : The belief that Christian people and Christian ideas are superior to people and ideas from all other religious, spiritual, and/or non-religious backgrounds, and thus Christian people and ideas should dominate society. (reworked from the definition of “white supremacy” on Dictionary.com)
This includes the centering of the theological, rhetorical, aesthetic, and economic priorities and preferences rooted in Christianity as well as the appropriation and rebranding of religious/spiritual expressions & ideas sourced from non-Christians. (reworked from Alicia Crosby’s definition of “white supremacy”)
I hold that Christian supremacy is based on two core beliefs, both of which I wholly denounce.
- There is and can be a total, standalone, Christian identity.
- “True”/”Real” Christianity can and should be assumed to be good/moral.
1) There is and can be a total, standalone Christian identity.
Having known and gone through an abusive version of this belief, I hold a strong ethical imperative to never consider Christianity as a whole, standalone identity. Instead, I approach and treat Christianity as multiple fractured parts and partial identities, which require other positionalities to create a structuring and wholeness of identity.
This is a call to centering ethics. Religious beliefs that perpetuate misogyny still get to be called misogyny, because they are religious beliefs in context, not abstracted from lived differences in society. We must be held accountable to the communities we hurt with our religion. Our religion does not and should not excuse us from accountability to the hurt we have caused other people and communities.This is a call to intersectionality. To not pretend that Christian supremacy stands alone, separated from evils like white supremacy and imperialism. Which brings us to:
2) “True”/”Real” Christianity can and should be assumed to be good/moral.
As a Native American, I cannot and will not make this assumption. Not with a religion that has a record of millions of followers over hundreds of years using its sacred texts to justify slavery, the subjugation of other peoples, and the idea that certain races are less than human (& thus farther from God’s image). Christian supremacy doesn’t get to be neatly separated from white supremacy and imperialism. Christian supremacy did that. Christianity did that. Was it also white supremacy and imperialism that did that? Yes. But Christianity was not strong enough as a religion for the vast majority to reject white supremacy and imperialism on the basis of Christianity. This is, again, a call to intersectionality. To honor the way that a particular belief or practice can be oppressive for certain communities, liberative for others, and neutral for the rest.
For that reason, I wholly reject the notion of the un-defile-able purity of anti-Empire Christianity. Instead, I acknowledge that my anti-Empire Christianity can be taken by my future listeners and turned into pro-Empire Christianity. I accept that by perpetuating anti-Empire Christianity, instead of working to destroy and bury the entirety of Christianity, that I am also responsible for the sins of pro-Empire Christianity, and I have a duty to completely destroy pro-Empire Christianity. For us who are white folks, we are all responsible for white supremacy no matter our histories, because we benefit from the system and have not shut that shit down yet. The same goes for us who are Christians.
Our ancestors who became Christians did so for a vast array of reasons. Some chose out of freedom and others did it to secure survival. For both sets, we honor our ancestors when we create a world where no one is forced to choose Christianity for survival.
I wrote this post in trying to explain why I consider Trump & supporters to be Christians, and not just in name, as well as why I don’t consider them heretics and usually don’t call them that either (though I occasionally slip up out of anger). To say that Trump & supporters are heretics is to affirm belief number one, because heretics are defined as those outside of the total of Christian identity though they claim to be inside. To explain why they are heretics is to affirm belief number two—that Trump & supporters are heretics because their Christianity lacks a sufficiently good/moral core as shown by their actions.
So I don’t believe or say that Trump & supporters are heretics. Because that runs to close to the risk of affirming Christian supremacy.
Brent is a proud fat transfeminine bisexual Native of mixed Cherokee/white descent. They often facilitate workshops for both youth and adults on topics of Native awareness, gender & sexuality education, racial justice, & Christianity. Their personal interests are varied and fluid. A lover of sound and taste. They are working on using heavy metal theory to dismantle compulsory happiness in queer theology. They are MCC clergy-in-training, and currently living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, far away from any MCC churches, so they attend a Native American congregation. Brent, who is a person of third gender, is a member of the Trans* Seminarian Cohort. They continue to be deeply indebted to the powerfulness, loving, and healing of QTPOC communities & spaces. Follow their personal blog on Medium
This post was originally published on Brent’s blog