Because the highest office held by any human being in the world—the Presidency of the United States—has been won by a black man, no child of God, anywhere on earth, need ever again limit his or her horizon because of skin color. So why are so many Christians unhappy about Barack Obama’s election?

It has been said that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America—and on November 4th, this habit of segregation appears to have translated into sharply divergent voting as well.

70% of white evangelicals, for example, appear to have gone for McCain, while 90% of black evangelicals went for Obama. 

With regard to Barack Obama’s election, why was there such a sharp divergence between what white Christians wanted and what black Christians wanted?

Why, in short, did so many white Christians simply not talk much about—or even seem to see—the startling human spiritual advance, and world historical victory for equality, that Obama’s election might represent?

Indeed, why were some white Christians driven to such hysteria over the prospect of Barack Obama as president—defaming him as a secret Muslim, a terrorist—and even calling him the anti-Christ?

Obviously, there’s no singular reason, but last night I watched an old documentary from 1966—A Time for Burning—in which a white Lutheran pastor attempts to get his white congregants (in Omaha, Nebraska) to engage in cross-city church visits with black Lutherans.

The resistence to intermingling congregations—even with simple vistations—all comes from the white side, and it gets very ugly. The Lutheran pastor is ultimately driven to resign his congregation.

It is striking, watching this film in 2008, how far we’ve come since 1966.

And yet all the ugliness is still with us.

For further reflection on what Barack Obama’s election means, I strongly suggest seeing A Time for Burning. See its Amazon link here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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8 Responses to Because the highest office held by any human being in the world—the Presidency of the United States—has been won by a black man, no child of God, anywhere on earth, need ever again limit his or her horizon because of skin color. So why are so many Christians unhappy about Barack Obama’s election?

  1. Ray Davis says:

    Your blog poses an interesting question. It is certainly hard to understand why religion seems to, in actuality, divide people when in theory it teaches them to live together. I am going to take some time today to watch the video you mention.

    Today I am asking readers on my blog at The Affirmation Spot to share their hopes, dreams, and concerns about the new Obama administration.

    http://theaffirmationspot.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/obama-won-but-now-what-the-affirmation-spot-for-friday-november-7-2008/

    Please feel free to contribute to the dialogue.

    Be empowered!

  2. M. Patterson says:

    “Why, in short, did so many white Christians simply not talk much about—or even seem to see—the startling human spiritual advance, and world historical victory for equality, that Obama’s election might represent?”

    Because it didn’t represent a departure from racism. That old devil is alive and well. So many people only voted for him because he is (50%) black. That’s a racism no different than any other.

    “Indeed, why were some white Christians driven to such hysteria over the prospect of Barack Obama as president—defaming him as a secret Muslim, a terrorist—and even calling him the anti-Christ?”

    Not paying attention, are we? Obama leans as far left as a person can get without falling over. For those of you who didn’t notice, we actually voted on issues, not race. Strange, isn’t it? Why did his race even matter? The presidency is too important to waste consideration on race. The dude is a flaming liberal. I don’t even care what his race is.

  3. santitafarella says:

    patterson:

    there is a difference between a white person joyfully voting for an african american as an affirmation of multiracial equality—and someone voting AGAINST obama because he is black.

    and there is a difference between hysterically calling obama a muslim and a terrorist—and even the antichrist—and stating one’s principled opposition to political liberalism.

    much of the white opposition to obama was not born of principled opposition to liberalism as such, but a visceral reaction to obama’s racial otherness (sublimated by professed fears that he’s a terrorist, a muslim, and a communist).

    this hysteria is what republicans tried to exploit this year—and it failed.

  4. Not all Christians are unhappy about Obama’s election !! Some see it as a necessary change.

  5. Toni says:

    Im a Christian and i voted for Barack Obama! I think he is going to be the best president we have ever had. It is time for a Good Change, and Obama is going to bring it to America. Helping people off the streets. Barack Obama is amazing. I think your over judging saying ‘Christians dont want an African American as president’ its kind of rude, saying that. My whole family is Christian and we voted for Obama and yes we are caucassian…skin color doesnt matter any more were in the 21st century people need to grow up and realize that this is the new age we are all equal. Dont judge everyone…no one thinks the exact same…so please dont judge me or put me in a catagory. I voted my first time in my life and it was for Barack Obama.

  6. santitafarella says:

    Toni,

    The “logic” underlying your response to what I wrote is baffling to me. How is it that my pointing out a fact—that white and black Christians voted (percentage wise) in starkly divergent ways in the last election—is an act of rudeness and judgmentalism toward YOU and your family?

    I’m happy you voted for Obama, but the fact that you did so does not mean that your fellow white Christians did. The fact is that most of them didn’t, and therein lies a tale.

    It means something, and I’m simply asking what.

  7. toni says:

    Some people like change and some people dont. The fact that an African American is now the new elected president of the United States can be hard for some to grasp. The fact you should be looking at is a majority of people Did vote for Obama….he was elected president. That means that alot of people did vote for Obama.
    Oh and sorry im not some high tech genius who makes all sense. im only in high school, not perfect. Just voicing my opinion. Didnt expect you to write back.

  8. santitafarella says:

    High school?

    No excuse.

    When I was in high school I was thinking about life and literature and politics and religion too.

    Sloppy intellection at your age is a bad habit to get into, and to hide behind it is to pretend that you are not as smart as you know that you are.

    Being in high school does not mean that you get a pass on intellectual precision.

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