Brian Chilson

A reflexive Republican sneer arose on news that Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen had drawn an election contest lawsuit that could end with an election loss by a Republican state representative. (Example above: Sen. Bob Ballinger.)


Griffen is fearless, outspoken and, as it happens, Black. No Arkansas Republican ever harmed his or her political standing by demeaning a black man, even one with demonstrable high intelligence who also speaks knowledgeably about the Bible in his dual role as a Baptist pastor.

Anyway, for the Bob Ballingers of the world, here’s a dose of Judge Griffen writing in the current Baptist News on the topic:


“Reports of the death of white Christian America are greatly exaggerated”

Griffen writes about a book by Robert P. Jones that made that argument after Trump’s election in 2016 because of coming demographic and cultural changes. He was too hopeful. Griffen writes:


Four years later in his book White Too Long, Jones wrote that “white Christian souls … have been most disfigured by the myth of white supremacy” and “are most in need of repentance and restoration, not just for the sake of the descendants of those whom our ancestors kidnapped, robbed, whipped, murdered and oppressed (notice that Jones did not include “raped”); not just for those who today are unjustifiably shot by police, unfairly tried, wrongly convicted, denied jobs, and poorly educated in failing schools; but for the sake of our children and our own future.”

Is the moral, ethical and spiritual disfigurement Jones finds in the souls of white Christians part of the death mask of white Christian America? Or is it more realistic to conclude that white Christian America is not dying, but is morphing into an even more sinister version of itself as its adherents age and become a smaller part of the U.S. population?

Trump’s re-election bid in 2020, although unsuccessful, received overwhelming support from white Christians the same way white Christians supported his successful 2016 candidacy. White Christians in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas and Kansas not only supported Trump’s 2020 re-election effort; their support propelled Lindsey Graham to re-election to the Senate from South Carolina despite the better-funded campaign run by his challenger, Jamie Harrison.

White Christians in Alabama, the home state of Congressman John Lewis and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, voted this month to elect a white former college football coach (Tommy Tuberville) — who displayed total ignorance about the Voting Rights Act — rather than re-elect Sen. Doug Jones, the white former U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the white racist men responsible for bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four Black girls and maimed a fifth one.

In Georgia, Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are counting on white Christians to turn out “five to a mule” in the Jan. 5, 2021, runoff election against Raphael Warnock and John Ossof that will determine whether Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans will block the Biden administration the same way they blocked the last six years of the Obama presidency.

In Mississippi, white Christians voted — a second time — to elect Cindy Hyde Smith to the U.S. Senate despite her 2018 public remark that she would be on the front row of a public hanging if one of her supporters invited her to attend it. Her opponent in 2018 and 2020 was former Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy, a Black man who served as secretary of agriculture during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

These electoral results — coupled with the overwhelming support that Donald Trump received from white Christians in 2020 in numerous other local, state and federal election contests in the United States — should remind us of Mark Twain, who famously declared, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

He graciously omitted more specifics on Arkansas from his recitation, though we did elect a Republican with a KKK robe in his high school wardrobe to the Arkansas Senate and heard broad Republican condemnation of voting in Pulaski County — without evidence of anything more than some human error in a uniquely challenging election — because, well, you know what you’ll find a lot of in Pulaski County. It is no longer even a dog whistle. Trump is screaming from the rooftops that you can’t trust the vote in any city with a large African-American population.