A woman was murdered on August 11. The murder weapon was a car, driven at high speed into a crowd of people gathered to protest the “Unite the Right” rally held in Charlottesville, VA. Tensions had been rising between those at the rally and the protesters, finally culminating in a vehicular murder that killed one and wounded nineteen others.
Violence has become tragically common in our world. It would be impossible to name all the shootings, knifings, and other killings that have taken place even in the last year. Charlottesville is different, however. It was not carried out by foreign radicals, or even inspired by a “foreign” ideology like radical Islam. Charlottesville was political violence; Americans fighting, maiming, and killing each other on the streets because they hold different political views.
This is horrifying, but not too surprising at this point. Violence and violent rhetoric has been on the rise these last few years. The Left has become increasingly violent: Black Lives Matter has terrorized and destroyed communities based on false narratives. Lately, the Antifa (Anti-Fascist) movement has brought its brand of domestic terrorism to college campuses to “protest” speakers they disagree with. “Protest” here meaning attacking, beating, and wounding with extreme prejudice.
The political right has, unfortunately, contributed as well. President Trump was well-known for his use of violent rhetoric on the campaign trail. Whether you like him or not, he certainly used language that encouraged his supporters to act violently, and some of them did.
So, back to Charlottesville. A collection of white nationalists known as the Alt-Right decided to hold a “Unite the Right” rally. Their goal was to protest the removal of certain Confederate monuments in the state, and, more importantly, to promote their white supremacist ideology. Antifa showed up to protest, and violence quickly ensued. It’s important to understand that there are no good guys here. The Alt-Right is a truly despicable political movement, and their cries of white nationalism are racist, evil, and against the Gospel. Antifa is no better; they use violence to shut down speech they disagree with, and came to the rally looking for a fight.
This is all very disturbing, and as Christians we must know how to understand these kinds of political movements from a Christian worldview. By and large, I’m glad to see many Christians have been speaking out against the Alt-Right, as well they should. I think it is vitally important that we as Christians understand what is going on in our nation, and how to approach it from a biblical viewpoint. I do not believe I know any Christians who would agree with the racist agenda of the Alt-Right, but I have seen some retweet or share content from Alt-Right figureheads or supporters like Milo Yiannopolous, the perverse and profane political provocateur. Some have shown a bizarre instinct to defend the Alt-Right (“They’re just white nationalists, not white supremacists,” I’ve read; why that is supposed to be better, I’m really not sure). I don’t see the same level of vociferous denunciation for the Alt-Right as I do for the Left (who are equally evil, of course).
I don’t believe this is because these Christians agree with the Alt-Right or what they stand for. I do not believe that my Christian friends are advocating, or ok with, white supremacy. I believe the lack of response/tendency to defend the Alt-Right stems from two things. First, a lack of understanding of who the Alt-Right is, and what they actually believe. Second, I believe there is a tendency to support anyone who opposes the Left. The temptation is to support and defend anyone who opposes the insanity the Left pushes on us every day; but that does not mean those people are allies. The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend; sometimes they are an equally repugnant enemy.
I do not want my focus to be politics. I enjoy politics, and I think they are important in applying the Christian worldview to our government and culture, but I always want the focus of what I talk about and write about to be the Gospel. So I do not want to write about this as a political topic, but a Christian one. As Christians, we must stand against the wicked and godless ideas, beliefs, and practices of our culture. For that reason, I want to talk about who the Alt-Right is, and why their beliefs are incompatible with and completely opposed to a biblical worldview.
What the Alt-Right Isn’t
As I said, I believe there is a lack of clear understanding of what exactly the Alt-Right is. I think many people have identified with the Alt-Right to some extent because they see them primarily as a group that likes to “troll” liberals online.
Indeed, the Alt-Right does have a significant online presence; much of their base is active and involved in targeting liberals online with pranks, tweets, comments, and memes designed to aggravate them. Many find this behavior to be very funny, and so begin to share their memes, assuming that the Alt-Right is nothing more than a juvenile segment of the internet dedicated to spreading cartoon Pepe the Frog memes.
This ignores the fact that the Alt-Right frequently targets minorities with their “trolling”, especially Jewish people. Many of their memes are wildly racist, and anti-Semitic in particular. One meme common during the 2016 election season featured Donald Trump placing various African-American or Jewish journalists and political figures in the Nazi gas chambers.
It’s also important to note that the Alt-Right is not a term that describes someone who is conservative; in fact, the Alt-Right is very much against constitutional conservatism. The media often misuse the term and apply the Alt-Right label to many conservatives who are not part of their movement as a way to discredit these conservatives and impugn them with charges of racism and bigotry. The Alt-Right does not describe Donald Trump or the vast majority of his supporters. While he bears some responsibility for catering to them and failing to adequately disavow them, President Trump is not a member of the Alt-Right, and does not share or represent their ideology.
What the Alt-Right Is
The Alt-Right is not an assortment of people who like trolling the Left and disagree with their policies. The Alt-Right is a political movement that espouses and shares a very particular and specific ideology; Christians should be very careful about associating and defending them if they do not share the same ideas and beliefs!
At the heart of the Alt-Right ideology is the idea that race (biodiversity, as they sometimes call it) has a significant and undeniable impact on peoples’ capabilities, intelligence level, and the kind of culture they build. They believe that white people are smarter, more capable, and create better societies than other races, and that Western culture is greater than other world cultures because it was founded by white people. They hold that it is impossible to have a society with multiple races and ethnicities, or that any race other than white Europeans would be able to preserve Western culture. Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, said, “The alt right accepts that race is a biological fact and that it’s a significant aspect of individual and group identity and that any attempt to create a society in which race can be made not to matter will fail.” [i]For this reason, they advocate white nationalism: building a nation only for Caucasians.
Richard Spencer, founder of AltRight.com, once said, “Our dream is a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans. It would be a new society based on very different ideals than, say, the Declaration of Independence.”[ii] He has also stated America was “a white country…and it belongs to us.”[iii] Vox Day, a prominent Alt-Right “thinker” says “we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.”[iv] Other white nationalists prominent in the Alt-Right movement include Kevin MacDonald, Sam Francie, and Paul Ramsey.[v]
This is a repugnant idea, and antithetical to both Christian thinking, and the creed that America was founded on. I do believe that Western culture is superior in many ways to other cultures, and that America is exceptional as a nation. As a Christian, and a constitutional conservative, I believe that these things are true because of the creed that Western culture, and America in particular, are founded on. Ideas like individual liberty, equality before God, the dignity and worth of human life; these ideas, among others, spring from a biblical, Christian worldview.
The Alt-Right would reject the idea that the West was founded on a creed, and instead insist that it is the white European identity that constitutes the essential differences that makes America exceptional. This belief is evil, and utterly contrary to a Christian worldview.
In fact, you may note that this bears a striking resemblance to another dangerous ideology: Nazism. The term “Nazi” is thrown around liberally these days, but with the Alt-Right, it applies. The roots of the Alt-Right are planted deeply in a putrid mix of Nazism, Nietzscheism, and European paganism. The impetus of the Alt-Right is a desire to forge a white, European identity, much as the Nazis sought superiority of the “Aryan” race.
The Alt-Right and the Bible
It should be clear that this viewpoint is completely at odds with the Bible. The idea that one race is superior to others is antithetical to Scripture; consider Acts 17:26 which declares that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men”.
The New Testament especially deals with the issue of racism in early Christianity; in this case, it was not white superiority, but Jewish superiority that was the issue. There was significant tension in those early days between Jewish and Gentile believers; but the answer was (and is) not to separate ourselves along ethnic and racial lines, but to realize that all men are equal in the eyes of God, and that believers are all one in Jesus Christ.
In Acts 10, we see Peter come to this realization. Peter is praying, and receives a vision of a great sheet descending from heaven filled with “all manner of…beasts”. God commands Peter to kill and eat, but Peter refuses to eat the unclean (per the law) animals. God responds to Peter, “What I have cleansed, that call not thou common.” As Peter ponders these things, the Holy Ghost sends him to preach the Gospel to the Gentile Cornelius, and his house. Here Peter understands that the meaning of the dream is that Gentiles are not to be viewed as “common” or “unclean”, saying in in Acts 10:28:
Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
He continues in verses 34-35:
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.
Paul also speaks about this in I Corinthians 12:13; there is also of course the incident described in Galatians 2 where Paul sternly rebukes Peter for disassociating with the Gentile believers in the church.
The principle is clear: there ought not be racial or ethnic divisions among God’s people. Every man, from every nation, race, and ethnicity has been made in the image of God and is equal in His eyes. It is a great sin to claim superiority on the basis of one’s race, or to hold bigoted and hateful attitudes towards someone of a different race. The Alt-Right’s message of white supremacy clearly violates this biblical principle and has no place in the Christian worldview.
How Christians Should Respond
Christians must stand firmly against the racism and evil of the Alt-Right. If we are to be salt and light in our culture, we must boldly stand against evil in all its forms, even if that evil may fall on our end of the political spectrum. There is no excuse for a Christian to associate with or defend the Alt-Right; to do so is to associate with and defend a worldview that is ant-Gospel and degrades the nature of men that Jesus Christ died to save and commands us to love.
All of us can be susceptible to racial prejudice; this is, unfortunately, a time of racial tension in America. You may say that the claims of systemic and institutional racism in our culture are overblown, and I would agree with you; but it is also possible that even well-meaning Christians could harbor some sinful and unkind attitudes and prejudices against those of another race. It is especially important in times like ours to closely examine our hearts for any unbiblical attitudes and repent of them. It should go without saying that racism has no place in the heart of any Christian. We must strongly denounce and reject all racist ideologies, including the Alt-Right; any Christian that has involved themselves in the Alt-Right movement or supports their racist ideas should repent and turn to the biblical truth that all men are created equal under God.
I would encourage Christians to use discretion in the content they choose to share on social media; some members of the Alt-Right, and Alt-Right popularizers, may say some things you agree with on various political issues. They might even say some things that are true, but we must be careful not to give the impression that we endorse and agree with their political movement. After all, I Thessalonians 5:22 warns us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Finally, we must do our best to share the Gospel the love of Christ to everyone in our communities. It is not a political philosophy that is the hope of our nation; it’s the Gospel.