WORLD FUTURE FUND
GEORGE WHITEFIELD AND RACISM
TROUBLING ORIGINS OF AMERICAN EVANGELISM
George Whitefield (1714-1770) is well known historically as one of the founders of Methodism and the Evangelical Movement.
Many Americans like to believe that the United States of America was founded by Christian forefathers. They look to the so-called religious revival organized by George Whitefield. Today's American Evangelicals like to claim that Whitefield's religious revival helped lay the groundwork for the American Revolution. This may be true, but the dark side to this story is George Whitefield's enthusiastic defense of the institution of slavery. So perhaps one could say that Whitefield helped set in motion the institution of slavery as an integral part of the new nation that emerged out of the Revolutionary War.
In the following century, the overwhelming majority of U.S. Evangelicals supported the slave trade.
In terms of race relations, the majority of white Christian Evangelicals opposed the basic tenets of the civil rights movement up until the late 1950s and 1960s when it became apparent that this was not politically viable. However, there was still huge opposition among white Evangelicals to the civil rights movement. The so-called religious right that emerged in the 1970s was also directly related to the issue of racism. It was directly related to a campaign to preserve the power of the white academies in the South. These are historical facts.
We are certainly not suggesting that a majority of today's Evangelicals are racist. However, the connection between Evangelism and racism in history is relevant.
Problems here in America are not over. Today, we have claims by many prominent Evangelicals that God commanded them to support people like Donald Trump.
READ MORE ON GEORGE WHITEFIELD
George Whitefield (Wikipedia)
George Whitefield’s troubled relationship to race and slavery (Christian Century)
Slaveholding Evangelist (Christianity Today, July/August 2022)
“Letter to the Inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina” (1740) (Encyclopedia Virginia)
When Our Heroes Don’t Live Up to Their Theology (The Gospel Coalition)
RELATED WORLD FUTURE FUND LINKS
Racism and the Founding Fathers