*Excerpts*, VOLUME 12

Jonathan Walton – Grappling with the Realities of History [Excerpt]

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An excerpt from

Twelve Lies That Hold America Captive: And the Truth that Sets Us Free
Jonathan P. Walton

Paperback: IVP Books, 2019
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Followers of Jesus must wrestle with what it means to have an authoritative, distinctly Christian witness in our context—not one rooted in American political power, clout, and relevance driven by talk radio, Christian conferences, and televangelism. All people must be called out of what I call white American folk religion (WAFR).

Historically, the US Constitution protects a self-determined superior race of people called “whites.” White supremacy was and is intentional, protected, and unconfessed. WAFR takes that premise and goes further. It ensures that men will hold power over women by giving them control of wealth, the right to vote, and the ability and preference to hold political office. Laws, amendments, and ordinances enshrine the institution of slavery, unjust distribution of wealth, and the segregation and subjugation of ethnic groups and women. This includes Jewish immigrants and those from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The court system has the power to take the lives of poor people who have committed crimes, the unborn, mentally ill, or those deemed feeble-minded.

Alongside these implications are the profound differences between the teachings and practices of Jesus in Scripture and those of WAFR. The United States and the kingdom of God are antithetical to one another. I once wondered how we got here. Now I know; this is where we have always been. We see this in the following laws and social norms:

  • 1790. Before this year, the United States did not have a national policy for voting. This law stated that “free White men of good standing” could vote. Prior to that, only white men over the age of twenty-one and who owned property (including owning women and slaves) were eligible to vote in most states. Therefore, Native Americans, slaves, free blacks, women, indentured servants, the poor, and immigrants from Asia and Latin America were not citizens and therefore barred from the political process.

  • 1857. Dred Scott, a free black slave saw his freedom taken away via a Supreme Court decision and set the stage for the civil war.

  • 1858–1865. Abraham Lincoln is held in high regard for penning the Emancipation Proclamation, but he did not believe that all people were made in the image of God. In the fourth presidential debate at Charleston, Illinois, on September 18, 1858, Lincoln cleared up any controversy when he was accused of promoting “negro equality”: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Lincoln also “opposed blacks having the right to vote, to serve on juries, to hold office and to intermarry with whites. What he did believe was that, like all men, blacks had the right to improve their condition in society and to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In this way they were equal to white men, and for this reason slavery was inherently unjust.” Lincoln did not believe that blacks and whites should or could live peaceably and favored colonization as the solution to this insurmountable problem. This colonization was essentially mass deportation of people of color to South America and the Caribbean.


  • 1882.  The Chinese Exclusion Act signed by President Chester Arthur halted all immigration from China until 1943. This permanently separated thousands of men from their wives and children.

  • 1887. The Dawes Act made it possible for Native Americans to vote if they gave up their tribal affiliation and dissolved their governments and rights to land. It lasted until 1934.

  • 1893. American diplomatic and military personnel conspired to illegally overthrow the monarchy of the Hawaiian kingdom. Queen Liliuokalani was stripped of power and land ownership, and voting rights were restricted for Hawaiians. Then in 1898, despite formal opposition, the United States imposed military occupation and unilaterally annexed the island to utilize its position for the Spanish American War. The Hawaiian kingdom’s latest complaint was filed with the United Nations in 2001, continuing to protest their illegal occupation by the United States.

  • 1906. The San Francisco Board of Education ordered the segregation of Asian children into a separate public elementary school. They justified segregation as a measure “to save White children from being affected by association with pupils of the Mongolian race.”

  • 1922. In Takao Ozawa v. United States, the US Supreme Court ruled that persons of Japanese origin are insufficiently white to qualify for citizenship.  This move bolstered movements such as the Asiatic Exclusion League and led to the Chinese Exclusion Act. It also planted seeds for Japanese internment during World War II and other prejudiced laws and social norms that persist to this day.

  • 1923. The US Supreme Court declared persons of Indian descent, even “high caste Hindus,” as ineligible for citizenship because they could not be legally recognized as white persons.

  • 1927. The Supreme Court Decision Buck v. Bell upheld the decision to allow forced sterilizations of those deemed “imbeciles.” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes infamously wrote in the decision, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” This meant that more than 70,000 impoverished, disabled, and mentally ill persons, as well as women deemed too interested in sex, were prevented from having children by the US government via forced sterilization.

  • 1929–1936. The Mexican Repatriation during the Great Depression removed between 500,000 and 2 million people from the United States. They were accused of stealing jobs by the attorney general, and Ford Motor Company and Southern Pacific Railroad encouraged employees to go back to their own people. At the same time, states began to cut welfare to these citizens.

  • 1946–1958. The United States infected hundreds of people in Guatemala with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge in collaboration with the Guatemalan government, which Americans strongly influenced. Ultimately, the CIA would overthrow the government to ensure land use for multinational corporation United Fruit Company.
  • Felony conviction leads to loss of voting rights in many states, which affects 2.5 percent of the US population. A high percentage of those people are from communities color or areas with a high concentration of poverty.

The infusion of government structures with a legal, deceptive “fear of the other” stands in opposition to the biblical mandate for us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) and care for the stranger in our midst as if they were native born (Leviticus 19:34).

Followers of Jesus believe that reconciliation through Christ is the only way to attain an eternal identity through adoption into an everlasting covenantal love, which is what all people of every background and ethnicity profoundly need. American history composed by white, wealthy men was written to argue otherwise. The Bible, however, exclaims that we do not need citizenship, voting rights, or access to property and capital, but a constant, unchanging status in Christ Jesus, which cannot be taken away. All of humanity is in need of a home, but that home is not the United States or any place. It is a person, and his name is Jesus.

Taken from
Twelve Lies That Hold America Captive by Jonathan P. Walton. Copyright (c) 2019 by Jonathan P. Walton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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