Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Evangelicals, Racism, and Ken Ham | Righting America

by William Trollinger

In his very charitable review of Righting America on the BioLogos website Ted Davis notes that he “partly dissent[s]” from our treatment of racism:

They acknowledge that Ham and his Museum unambiguously oppose racism and blame evolution for advancing it. However, in the context of their larger narrative, they seem to imply that Ham’s opposition to racism is just trendy, part of a relatively recent change of heart among American Evangelicals, who increasingly disown racial prejudice. I don’t think they’ve been entirely fair to Ham, who has shown admirable leadership on that score.

As many black evangelicals have noted in the year since Donald Trump was elected president, it would seem that racism remains strongly rooted in white evangelicalism (to the point that some evangelicals of color have disavowed the “evangelical” label). So it seems plausible to suggest that it is a sign of Ham’s “admirable leadership” that he continues to say that racial discrimination is not biblical.

But here’s the problem. Ham’s statements opposing racism are remarkably abstract. While his blog attacks on efforts in behalf of LGBTQ rights (34 in the past 17 1/2 months) are very specific – including, most recently,  a vitriolic post regarding the legalization of gay marriage in Australia – his comments about racism rarely seem to land anywhere. He has so much material to work with, but he is silent when it comes to specifics. As we note in Righting America, from Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG) there was

silence about the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, . . . silence about the Confederate flag controversy, and . . . silence about the persistence of institutional racism in the United States. (190-191)

That was 2015. Since then – as we discussed in a September 2017 post – Ham has said nothing (as far as we can tell) about white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and the rise in racially-motivated hate crimes. Regarding Charlottesville, in the past week an article on the AiG website finally made reference to it . . .  but only for the purposes of attacking the antifa movement for its illogical authoritarian anti-authoritarianism. Where is the critique of neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

Given Ken Ham’s location in the Christian Right, we recognize that it would take courage for him to forthrightly condemn both particular racist acts and the persistence of racism in white evangelicalism. But if his stance against racism is to mean something, then it needs to be specific. That would be leadership.