Neo-Confederates in a Nutshell. A Really Big, Expansive, Context-Laden Nutshell.

I’m just about finished with the 300-page book by Ed Sebests, Euan Hague, and Heidi Beirich on Neo-Confederates, and so far it’s proved enormously unsettling. I do want to acknowledge the comment I received on the first post from Michael Tuggle of the League of the South; he graciously followed up with an email to me and I hope to continue an extended, and mutually edifying, conversation. Thank you, Mr. Tuggle, for the list of posts you’ve asked me to read. I intend to.

Over the last week, I’ve read, written, scribbled, wept, prayed, thundered, and sat awestruck. I’m interested in the NC’s own words, and I’ve pored over blogs, articles, and references apart from the book itself. I’m far more interested in what the NC’s say than about what Sebesta, et al, say about them, although I find their analysis of NC ideology compelling. And so, on the basis of my reading of the neo-Confederates’ own words as well as my understanding of Scripture, I have to conclude that the movement and ideology is utterly un-Biblical and shamelessly sinful from its very foundation. I can’t imagine any other conclusion that a Christian would take.

But why would I begin with “un-Biblical”? Isn’t that just a concern of those of us who are students of the Scriptures? Aren’t the neo-Confederates espousing racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic principles that are objectionable on their own and terrifically dangerous if ever realized? Isn’t adding “un-Biblical” kind of gilding a particularly odious lilly?

There’s no doubt in my mind that the bigotry and aggression, not to mention the race-based self-aggrandizing posture of the movement’s spokesmen — and they are virtually always men, by the way — is profoundly objectionable from a completely secular basis. But the bedrock bigotry of the League of the South, with which Doug Wilson is a sympathizer and supporter and which was co-founded by Wilson friend and collaborator Steve Wilkins, is an expression of what they and other NC’s believe is a truly Christian way of living. Neo-Confederacy is the ultimate realization of Gospel truth for Southern whites, they say, and from the “sacredness” of fighting the Civil War to the current mission of recovering God’s will for society and home, it’s inextricably linked to the NC view of God’s revelation and design as understood in Scripture. It’s impossible, therefore, to assess the ideology apart from its religious roots, no matter how obvious the bigotry is to believers and non-believers alike.

The irony of a self-educated, untitled feminist Christian woman conducting an assessment of a patriarchal, racist, divisive, academic, religious and yet heretical ideology is evident, and I realize that I’m not likely to change the minds of any neo-Confederates. My intention — I call it an obligation — is to illustrate my conviction that NC beliefs and practices are despicably in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will convict those readers who embrace the mission of the NC’s, and I pray that my words would enable that. Disagreeing with this liberal white Christian woman is of no consequence, nor should it be. Representing in Christ’s name a worldview that depends on the unraveling and destruction of the Gospel message is.

But no one who currently attends a congregation lead by neo-Confederates, or who unthinkingly accepts the teaching of an NC view of history and theology in their children’s schools, or who blithely considers neo-Confederacy to be just another strand of orthodox Christianity, will ever be able to say, after reading this, that they didn’t get it. Yeah, I write with a strong degree of confidence, but my confidence is in the power and witness of the Word and in the gifting of the Spirit. How God works in the hearts of the bigots who presume to poison the Gospel isn’t something I’ll be privy to — although I imagine my email Inbox and comments section might give me an idea.

There will be several posts; it’s a big book, and the amount of primary-source NC information is formidable. And, of course, there are lots of other things for me to write about these days; I’m not completely consumed by neo-Confederacy. But I’ll try to tackle this in an orderly way that illumines, I hope, my contention that neo-Confederacy is utterly antithetical to a Christian worldview, and that those who claim the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior sin grievously by embracing it. For this post, I’ll simply lay out what is at the crux of neo-Confederate ideology. It isn’t the Gospel. In fact, as I’ll argue in future posts, it does violence to the very heart of the message and work of Jesus Christ, and does so with an arrogance and insouciance that’s utterly chilling. First, though, is neo-Confederacy in a nutshell:

Race is the primary factor of all human interaction. That interaction is destined to be negative; from the conflict will rise “superiors” who exercise rule over others. These “superiors,” always male in a patriarchal system, exist in the U.S. as Southern white people descended from ancient “Anglo-Celts,” from whom they derive certain specific characteristics. This hierarchical, patriarchal society is God-ordained; Federal “interference” in the establishment of civil rights reflects a “malignant egalitarianism” that is inherently sinful and immediately threatening to “Southrons,” the Anglo-Celtic people of the South. Secession from the Union is a necessary step in preserving “Southern culture,” and the white, slave-owning “culture” of the antebellum South was the purest embodiment of Biblical Christianity the nation, if not the world, has ever seen. Women, immigrants, homosexuals and non-Christians are recipients of illegitimate “rights” that have their origin in a secular, Federal attempt, rebelling against God, to obliterate the teaching of Scripture; those civil rights would not be part of a new Confederate Nation.

Moscow’s most powerful pastor says he is a paleo-Confederate; his school, Logos, relies on NC thought in teaching history and theology; his friend and collaborator in the published defense of Southern slavery, Steve Wilkins, is a co-founder of the NC League of the South; and Wilson’s Trinity Festival is populated by NC’s, both as attendees and program speakers. If neo-Confederacy isn’t offensive to you in the abstract, please consider that scores of little kids in Moscow are learning a view of history that refers to slavery as a benign, harmonious institution that was better for Blacks than the Civil Rights era, and a theology that affirms sure and eventual dominion of society by male Covenant heads of household. Tepid assurances that Wilson deplores racism ring a little hollow amid raucous choruses of “Sweet Home Alabama,” and I would love to hear how the miscegenation-hating Wilkins receives the rebuke of his dear friend Wilson, who insists that he’d have no problem performing a wedding between a Black person and an Anglo.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall . . .

My next post will explore in greater detail what NC’s stand for, and then I’ll demonstrate how very much at odds they are with the One they call Savior. For now, let me just say that reading the words of these genteel Southern bigots is a baptism in filth, and I’m grateful for the nurture and assurance of the Holy Spirit in processing it all.

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