“They do not seem to have a fundamental sense of right,” said New England abolitionist Frederick Olmstead while visiting the state of Tennessee in the 1850s.
He was speaking of white slaveowners who imprisoned people of color in a lifetime of forced slave labor, breaking, raping, maiming and even murdering Black bodies.
And for what purpose? To line their pockets with ill-gotten riches – all in the name of a pro-white lives God, their atrocities protected by laws they enacted.
They were not kidding. In 1861, white slaveowners committed treason, going to war against the United States to protect their self-perceived godly right to destroy the lives of Black people.
Sacrificing Black bodies on the altar of power and greed. That was white Christian nationalism of old.
“We’re not going to fix it [the mass murder of children],” declared so-called “pro-life,” white Tennessee U.S. Congressman Tim Burchett earlier this year.
Children’s lives were less important than guns. Rather than protect children, America’s sacred duty was to “expand gun rights” so that almost anyone anywhere could carry a gun with virtually no restrictions.
Some 5,000 children die from guns each year, and guns have become the leading cause of children’s death.
Burchett is unmoved. There is nothing the government can do to protect children from guns, he insists. If Congress tried, it would just “mess things up.”
Instead, “you’ve got to change people’s hearts. As a Christian, as we talk about in church, I’ve said this many times, we need a revival in this country,” Burchett stated.
That’s eerily similar to what white slaveowners in the South used to say: “The government should do nothing to stop the enslavement of Black people. Instead, there should be no restrictions on enslaving Black people. Black slavery is God’s will, allowing white Christian slaveowners to save their souls.”
Today, Burchett’s anti-life ideology is widespread. Almost to a person, all of Tennessee’s Republican legislators recently lashed out over protests calling for the protection of children’s lives.
“Protect kids, not guns,” demanded three Democrat legislators. Republican legislators who falsely call themselves “pro-life” refused, expelling two of the three protesters – both Black – from the Tennessee House. “Guns are not the problem,” they insisted, standing up for the sacredness of assault weapons and the murder of ever more children.
Sacrificing the bodies of children on the altar of guns. This is white Christian nationalism of today.
“If you don’t have an AR-15 sell your cloak and buy one,” a far-right extremist version of Luke 22:36 proclaims. “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle,” reads a re-purposed Psalm 144:1 with trigger finders in mind. So sayeth the God of mass murder.
Interviewed by journalist Tony Horwitz in the election year of 2016, one proud assault-weapon-carrying white Texan effectively summarized white Christian nationalists’ utter indifference to the slaughter of children.
“You can get all the law you need in the Bible,” the Texan told Horwitz, government regulation of guns unnecessary. Demanding the right to live by “no rules,” he insisted he and like-minded authoritarians should be allowed to do “whatever the hell it is we want to do,” the journalist recalled in his book Spying on the South.
That’s what white slaveowners used to say.
So much for the peaceful and inclusive commandments of Jesus. “Love your neighbor as yourself” was rejected by “Christian” slaveowners of old, and allowing no harm to come to children is ignored by “Christian” apologists of child sacrifice today.
Many within today’s largely white “pro-life” movement, in addition to sacrificing children to guns, oppose their tax dollars providing assistance to poor children, demanding that the government turn children away instead of helping them.
While shoving children aside, they spend their time demanding that embryos – most of which never become actual children – be protected at all costs.
And I do mean all costs.
In South Carolina, many extremist white Christian legislators, self-styled pro-lifers, are pushing legislation (South Carolina House Bill 3549) allowing for the execution of women who have an abortion for any reason, including rape.
Other proposed “pro-life” legislation in various states would allow prison time for women who have abortions, and prison or execution for doctors who perform abortions.
Children, women, doctors: kill or otherwise punish as many people as necessary in order to protect assault weapons and embryos. This is the worldview of many of today’s self-styled “pro-lifers.”
Decades ago, we were warned of this death-cult ideology of far-right Christian nationalism, disguised in “pro-life” language. If only we had listened.
“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you,” Randall Terry, founder of the leading “pro-life” anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, said in a 1983 speech to pro-lifers. “I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good – Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty. We are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”
He was serious.
“When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we’ll execute you,” Terry proudly proclaimed in a 1995 speech titled, “Our Goal: A Christian Nation.”
“I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed,” he said of doctors who performed abortions.
“Pro-life” icon Randall Terry clearly spelled out the anti-Christ goal of the extremist wing of Christian nationalism: overthrowing democracy and installing a murderous white, authoritarian Christian theocracy.
The Christian nationalist January 6 domestic terrorist insurrection, the terrorists hunting for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with intent to kill, was an expression of Terry’s ideology.
Not all “pro-lifers” agree with Terry’s extremism, but most within the movement refuse to follow the empathetic and compassionate teachings of Jesus – in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in the Gospels – and protect and value actual human life.
They could demand that state and federal legislators and the Supreme Court protect America’s children from mass slaughter. They refuse, preferring instead to protect assault weapons.
They could lead the way in calling for legislation to provide equal rights for women and to recognize a woman’s life as more valuable than an embryo. They refuse, insisting that women’s lives are expendable.
They could demand that their churches stop spewing hatred of LGBTQ persons. They refuse, instead demanding that state governments punish non-straight people.
Why? Because the sacredness of human life is not the point of the so-called “pro-life” movement.
Power and dominance over others are the objectives, as it was with pro-white life slaveholders of yesteryear.
Managing Editor for Publishing and Experiences Director at Good Faith Media. He is a historian, lecturer, public speaker, award-winning author and award-winning photographer.