A few weeks ago, an artist by the name of Propaganda released an amazing work of art. Excellent, the album, has gotten kudos from many; however, one track on the album has been the subject of much debate. The entire project is in-your-face, and this song is no exception. I think Propaganda spoke blunt truth, because there are many historical facts that aren’t talked about in Christian circles when we discuss the Puritans.
George Whitfield campaigned to have slaves at his orphanage.Jonathan Edwards owned slaves.
The Southern Baptist Convention made negro inferiority a theological conviction amongst its convention. Did these negative attributes define who these people were? Not in my opinion.
But I wonder if the issue was abortion...
What if George Whitfield campaigned for the rights of women to have abortions? What if Jonathan Edwards owned abortion clinics?
The Southern Baptist Convention made a woman’s right to choose a theological conviction amongst its convention, because it was that important. Not that I agree with the abortion and slavery comparison, but I think abortion would make us think of this issue very differently. It shows how we value certain issues more than others.
Honestly, I love what Propaganda says on "Precious Puritans". He is right. I think the entirety of the poem speaks to the flaws of all leaders, which is a healthy reminder and deserves even more discussion. For instance, the issue of romantcisizing leadership's sin isnt an all "white thing." From our current president to a plethora of entertainers, black people can conjur notions that our cultural heroes are spiritual ones as well. We literally lose our minds if Evander Holyfield prays before he gets into the boxing ring, because that one act, in some way, absolves his litany of spiritual issues. We suffer from the same blinding light of popularity.
But beyond the Puritan debate, I think this song exposes the reality that white people are far too often tired of the slavery conversation altogether and want to move on. I understand that many white people feel like they shouldn’t have to discuss something they weren’t apart of. But does that mean we should embrace the fact that humans were once used like a rake or luggage—nothing but tools? Black people were considered three-fifths of a human and made white people a fortune; are we to glaze over that? Considering that it is that fortune that many whites have gained a considerable amount of privilege from, I'd say no. It is healthy to consistently take a look at how we actually thought God was ok with slavery as we knew it in this land of the free. It would also be a benefit to our missiology within cities to understand how slavery and Jim Crow have affected the black population today.
All in all, sin is never easy to talk about. Yet, my prayer is that we grow more comfortable with examining, confessing, and praying over the sins of our forefathers. It will, as James 5:16 promises, bring healing to our nation.