Duck Dynasty star, Willie Robertson
Duck Dynasty star, Willie Robertson

In late December 2010, Mike Huckabee, was still considering a run at the presidency 2012.  But it was another potential candidate in the news, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who had just made an ignorant (perhaps racist) remark about segregation in the south. Huckabee came out quickly to condemn the remark. I wrote about it on Caffeinated Thoughts.  A few Christians had actually defended Barbour.

Now, a similar controversy has come out of the hit A&E show, Duck Dynasty. Patriarch of the show and star, Phil Robertson, made the news,  in part because of his own comments on race relations:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

This is similar to Harbour’s remarks, though we are perhaps only given a snippet of Robertson’s comments by GQ. Some Christians have ignored this remark, and focused on what was considered the more controversial statement, in which Robertson tied homosexuality with bestiality, and to Robertson’s credit, other sexual sins.  (Many articles have been misspelling it “beastiality”)   .  Homosexuals  are outraged at the  remark, and asked for Robertson’s head on a platter. They got it, when A&E dumped Robertson from the show, and a hotel in NY refused a Robertson son service,  either because of the remark, or probably because of his burly facial hair.

Two questions:

1) Why aren’t liberals focusing on the potentially racist remark, but on the “gays and lesbians” angle.  (That’s kinda obvious.)

2) Why aren’t Christians equally outraged about his racially insensitive and possibly ignorant remark? (Not so obvious)

Perhaps it is because racism is secretly tolerated in some of our churches.  Michael Horton, of Westminster Seminary West, wrote a blog post addressing the racism of theologian R L Dabney, and other Christian slave-owners from the south. Some churches still honor Dabney, without addressing his remarks.

David Van Drunen spoke at a conference, showing how our latent racism may make our testimony about homosexuality seem incredible to the world.

I have experienced such evidence first hand. A deacon’s wife in an Assembly of God  church (in the 1980s) balked at housing a Teen Challenge student she said “because he was black”.  Again, in the 1990s, a current deacon of a Baptist church blamed some of current cultural problems on blacks, and he used the “N” word.

This is not an indictment on the whole church, nor on the plain teaching of Scripture about all sexual sins, but on our failure to speak out plainly against racism, today. Racism strikes at the heart of the gospel, for in the body of Christ He has torn down the wall of separation (for example, Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:14) and we are all one in Christ:

Galatians 3:28,29:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 

5 comments
  1. While his comment was politically incorrect, without a full context it really is impossible to say whether it was racist. Note that he does not mention Jim Crow or segregation–his comment is regarding welfare and entitlements, both of which flow to blacks and whites. Indeed, he began his own working life after segregation had been ended in the South, so from the context he is not saying that black people were happy under Jim Crow.

    Note also his characterization of himself as white trash. People who have not lived in the South may not get the nuance here. Basically, many poor white people in the South even during Jim Crow were in the same boat as black people. There was not much of a distinction between the two groups. They were both poor, both lived in the same kinds of houses, ate the same kinds of food, and did the same kind of work. And, depending upon the area, they may well have even lived in the same non-segregated neighborhoods and have gone to the same schools. Both were disenfranchised by the political system–neither group may have been able to pay the poll taxes or pass the literacy tests necessary to vote, and the local political bosses certainly did not favor poor white over poor blacks. This seems to be a large part of his point here.

    Is he being racist, or is he saying that the political and social divisions that have grown up between blacks and whites of his generation are largely due to the growth of the entitlement state? Arguably, he is saying exactly that. If so, then he is not saying anything all that different from what many other conservatives have said.

    1. Were poor white trash denied the use of any restroom or drinking fountain? Were poor white trash ever denied their right to vote? Were poor white trash ever lynched for being “uppity”.

  2. We are to go after Mr. Robertson for his racist comments, so we will look good as Christians, in order to sound creditable to the left, after we remember what Haley Barbour said a few years ago….after reading snippets out of GQ. I just visited relatives in Mississippi and I am of the opinion that they have their act together, compared to what white Christians and non-Christians anywhere in the country were like just a few years ago. Last I heard, we are all sinners, and need saving grace.

  3. Phil told the truth.most sinners dislike jesus because he shows you the sins in your life.your lust desires of the flesh are so strong,that you do not want the truth to be told.then you might change.thak god for Phil & his family.

  4. The reason I dont have a problem with what he said in that he prefaced it with: “I never, with my eyes…” He is relating a personal experience. If there was stuff going on that he was blind to, he is saying he didnt see it. If he had said emphatically “this is the way it was” then one could reasonably contest what he said.

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