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When I was a young man, my father used to tell me, “Don’t believe what people tell you about themselves, listen to their actions. After a while, you’ll KNOW who they are.”
He’d also say, “Folks don’t generally lie to us; we simply choose to not listen.”
For a number of years, Pastor James White has been completely honest and transparent with us – all of us. He is a principled man. He is not a liar. We disrespect the man every time we choose to not take him at his word and instead come up with silly platitudes such as, “We don’t know what people truly have in their hearts,” or when we pretend he is not an experienced communicator who says what he means and means what he says.
It’s clear, to me, that James White has a negative bias against blacks, and that phrase right there is the most charitable spin I can come up with given his behavior for several years now. He has no problem repeating the same racist stereotypes that became so popular during the events of the Wilmington Massacre, the Jim Crowe Era and more – and all of it backed up by “facts.” Blacks are ignorant and prone to violence. Their women are given over to lewdness, promiscuity and licentiousness. They religiously abort their babies. Any push back on this rhetoric is stonewalled with a cavalier remark, such as “You are emotional,” “Deal with the facts,” or “Slavery is over. Move on,” and a dismissal of critics as “social justice warriors” and “critical race theorists.”
We are expected to believe that the evil of racism and brutality towards blacks ended when the Civil War was over. Forget the need for the 13th Amendment. Forget the blatant imprisonment of blacks over ridiculous and minuscule misdemeanors, or the Three-fifths Compromise. Disregard that it required presidents using armed forces in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi to successfully integrate blacks into schools and universities. Forget the back and forth that Congressmen and Senators had to engage in to secure the liberties for which blacks and others had fought.
Forget the racist preaching of famous pastors as they encouraged their congregations to lynch wayward blacks (George White), forget Joseph E. Brown, who was the southern baptist seminary’s most important donor, who made most of his fortune exploiting black convict lease laborers. Forget the countless churches that promoted lynchings as societal spectacles for the masses to enjoy.
None of that happened.
All it took to solve the problem, instantaneously, was the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
And women and children that have suffered abuse for years at the hands of a boyfriend, husband, parent, etc., easily heal and move on immediately after the abuser is removed from their environment. Of course, you’re a fool if you believe that.
In James White’s world, it’s important and fair to exploit a random black kid – a kid who White saw one day cross the street and flip off a police officer – as being representative of oh so many young blacks (a homogenous group, apparently) that don’t know their fathers, are undisciplined, uneducated, etc. Oh, and this random kid’s father probably has an infinite number of baby mommas. But, let us all marvel at the wonders of the Scottish heritage: bagpipes, trinity tweed flat caps and funny skirts, and the great legacy of Christian theologians that White’s Scottish heritage has gifted to the world. Good thing those orphaned black people have something to aspire to and imitate.
The quote below was written by White on Facebook in 2016, and then deleted.
“I bought a dash cam recently. Seems everyone in Russia has one (I guess you have to for insurance purposes), and I thought it would be pretty good to have to document some of the crazy things that happen while driving. So I was coming home this evening and happened to be the first car at Glendale and 35th Avenue in Phoenix. And as you will see, a young black kid, looks to be 15 years old or so, was crossing the street. Now if you watch, you will see a police SUV cross in front of me first going east. The kid then comes into the screen, and though he sort of hid it under his elbow, he plainly flips off the police vehicle. Then he is emptying the drink he is consuming as he walks out of the frame. What you can’t see is that he then simply tossed the bottle into the bush in the corner of the gas station. I happened to notice the two ladies in the car next to me had seen the same thing. We just looked at each other, put up our hands in exasperation, and shook our heads.
“As I drove away I thought about that boy. There is a more than 70% chance he has never met this father. In all probabilities he has no guidance, has no example. He is filled with arrogance and disrespect for authority. He lives in a land where he is told lies every day—the lie that he cannot, through hard work and discipline, get ahead, get a good education, and succeed at life. He is lied to and told the rest of the world owes him. And the result is predictable: in his generation, that 70% number will only rise. He may well father a number of children—most of which will be murdered in the womb, padding the pockets of Planned Parenthood, and those that survive will themselves be raised without a natural family, without the God-ordained structure that is so important for teaching respect, and true manhood or womanhood.
“It never crossed my mind to flip off a police car as it passed me by when I was his age. Of course, it never crossed my mind to walk around with my butt hanging out of my pants, either, as if the entire world needed to see what kind of underwear I was sporting that day. I know I would have been mighty guilty had I tossed my drink bottle into a bush—and I never would have dreamed of doing that in front of everyone like this young man did. But I had a father. And a mother. And I was taught to respect others, and myself. If I had not had those things, I still would not have acted as he, simply because times have changed, and not for the better. There was simply more restraint in my day. It surely makes me wonder what the future holds. Oh, I know—this is nothing. There are videos on line of kids like this shooting guns in the air and robbing people and doing car jackings. I know. But you need to understand: those folks didn’t get there without first finding it “fun” to strut, flip, toss, and live an attitude of disrespect.”
Of course, it’s fairly easy to see through that kind of racial bias. Why assume this child didn’t have parents or had no guidance? I grew up with both my parents. I also had great role models in church and school. My father was a deacon and my mother was a Sunday school teacher, yet I was a rebellious and sometimes difficult child. We all know kids of different racial and ethnic groups that are difficult. In James White’s world, though, it doesn’t work like that: see a black obnoxious kid? See a fatherless, pot smoking kid that is doomed to be a criminal tomorrow.
It is easy for me to imagine James White fitting perfectly into a cultural environment where blacks and other minorities were abused and killed. I can picture him angrily threatening the Southern Baptist Convention with the removal of his financial support over the Convention’s potential invitation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Some of the arguments many Southern Baptists used back then are being used by White today to devalue King as a communist, a heretic and a serial adulterer. In the meantime, men like R.L. Dabney – who said some incredibly racist things later in life, frustrated over the Civil War defeat and the financial detriment it brought upon his life – are celebrated as wonderful Christian theologians and writers. Had James White been a pastor back then, I have no doubt in my mind, he would have turned a blind eye to the lynchings and enslavement of black men and women.
What’s truly surprising to me is the shock that a number of people seem to demonstrate at White’s level of nonexistent empathy and lack of basic, human compassion. I suppose this is due to the fact that many Christians aren’t familiar with Reformed Baptists which, as a whole, are an insignificant minority in the larger scope of Christendom. Yet, this behavior, to some of us who either came out of the Reformed Baptist world or who roam around the deep web of social media, White’s brash behavior comes as no surprise.
We watched as James White responded with political soliloquy after one of his followers shared that he had lost his ex-wife to COVID-19. White alleges that he didn’t see the post. Obviously, White’s response was no accident. James White is lying and he knows it.
But even more importantly, should we really expect empathy for a total stranger (albeit a fan) from someone who publicly disavowed his sister after sharing the tragedy of being sexually molested by their father (also a pastor)?
In 2009, James White published a video on YouTube in which he castigated his sexually abused sister as a “Rome Defender” and minimized the trauma that his sister suffered by their sexually abusive father:
“I suppose there’s a sense that maybe that one thing that could come out of this that would be good would be people to see just how crippled she has become because she just lives in this realm of victimhood and everything is defined by that. And there are so many people who have bought in to that. It is one of the most debilitating aspects of our modern society, that you blame your parents, you blame the people that you grew up with, you blame your circumstances, you blame events from 150 years ago anymore as if you know I just could never be a success in life because of X, Y, and Z. Thankfully I’ve never bought into that. Everyone’s parents are fallible. I think of myself as a parent and I think of each of my young people and I could have been there for them, I could have been this better. I think every parent, hopefully every parent, every Christian parent anyway, sits back and thinks about these things. But you know I’ve never passed on to my kids this idea of a victim mentality. You are responsible before God for who you are. You stand before God for the decisions you make. Blaming other people is just, it’s pathetic, and it shows a tremendous lack of maturity.“
James White should be discarded as a pastor. His priorities have been crystal clear to all who are objectively watching his engagements on social media and the like. In fact, his association with theonomists has naturally brought forth from him more of what he and his fans have always been attracted to: cultural commentary with an extremist tendency.
We see many people calling for prayer for James White, expressing hurt and disappointment over his down-spiraling behavior. Prayer and grace are of vital importance and indeed commendable and necessary for the repentance of individuals. We must pray for James White. That said, we mustn’t spend too much mental and emotional energy on James White. It is also perfectly valid and biblical to keep a safe distance from established abusers and gaslighters. We mustn’t allow his anger and vitriol to infect our own hearts. I don’t question White’s salvation, notwithstanding. As a Lutheran, I know better than that. But, boundaries are of paramount importance for our emotional, financial and mental well being.
James White is who he is and, in fact, it could be argued that one cannot be a Reformed Baptist without being nasty and combative and, perhaps even having, to a minimum, borderline racist tendencies. What I do thank God for is that we don’t have to settle with James White and his cesspool of radical tradition. We have options. We can thank God that this movement to which he belongs, if history can be used to predict the future (and it certainly can), will eventually die off.