Any assumptions that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court would be judicially, legislatively, or politically detrimental to black Christians are, in my humble opinion, unfounded and unwarranted. As I stated earlier, black Christians are not a monolithic group of people who view every social issue through the same ideological prism (the commentary you are reading is evidence of that); nor should we collectively be expected to be of a singular ideological mind on such issues simply because we are black and Christian.
I recently came across an article on Christianity Today by John C. Richards, Jr., a self-described “Christian person of color”, entitled ‘Brett Kavanaugh Is a Troubling Supreme Court Pick For Black Christians‘. As the article’s title suggests, Richards is expressing concern over the potential impacts the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court by President Donald J. Trump might have on black Christians in America. The commentary was penned as a reply by Richards to an article written by Dr. Ed Stetzer, who supports the Kavanaugh nomination.
Richards, who, according to his article, has partnered with Stetzer in ministry in recent years, begins his commentary by graciously acknowledging Stetzer’s work on issues Richards opines “many evangelicals avoid” (such as the #MeToo movement, immigration, and mass incarceration). So the reply by Richards to Stetzer is not borne out of any spirit of acerbity or malevolence, but of Christlike grace and respect, which is why I refer to Richards’ commentary as a reply and not a response, as the latter seems to me to imply a more adversarial tone of delivery which, as I see it, is neither the case nor the intent here.
Nevertheless, having said that, I do find the timing of Richards’ concerns interesting, if not ironic. I say that in the sense that his dissatisfaction with Kavanaugh’s nomination seems to be proffered in such a way as to suggest that black Christians are, or should be, primarily, if not solely, concerned about matters that subjectively fall under the ever-expanding and ambiguous banner of “social justice”.
In processing many of the concerns raised by Richards about Kavanaugh, I was reminded that there remains within the evangelical church remnants of a long-held stereotype that the “Christianity” of black Christians is distinct from that of white Christians in terms of political orthopraxy and missiology. That is, that black Christians are to invest themselves only in the work of improving the socio-economic station of those who would be considered “disenfranchised” – systemically or institutionally – particularly with regard to employment, housing, and educational opportunities, whereas white Christians are to align themselves with issues like abortion which, confoundingly to me, is not usually categorized as a “justice issue” by those who claim to be advocates and champions of social justice.
But, I digress.
It may surprise many to learn that, not unlike their white evangelical brothers and sisters, black evangelical Christians can actually walk and chew their missiological gum at the same time. Despite the narrative that is often put forth that portrays black people as monolithic in essentially every aspect of their existence as human beings, black Christians are quite a diverse lot in terms of the social, political, and cultural issues that are of importance and significance to them.
Not only do black Christians care about matters of biblical justice (Lev. 19:15-18) – a term which, I believe, is more accurate than social justice in objectively contextualizing the paradigm to which professing Christians should subscribe concerning the equitable treatment of others who, like themselves, are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27, 5:1-2) – they care about other issues as well, such as taxes, school choice, terrorism, and the economy. In other words, given these myriad issues, black Christians fully comprehend that Kavanaugh has been selected by President Trump to fill the role of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, not Social Justice of the Supreme Court.
Given that Richards is an attorney and I am not, I need not remind him that President Barack Obama was afforded the opportunity to nominate not one but three individuals to the Supreme Court during his eight-year tenure in office: Judge Sonia Sotomayor (2009), Judge Elena Kagan (2010), and Judge Merrick B. Garland (2016), of whom only Sotomayor and Kagan were confirmed.
In 2015, both Justices Sotomayor and Kagan sided with the 5-4 majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized “same-sex marriage” in America. And yet I recall reading no such cautions as Richards’s when Sotomayor and Kagan, neither of whom would be regarded as ideologically conservative, were nominated by President Obama. Which is increasingly curious to me given that Obama openly advocated and advanced a domestic and global social policy of same-sex marriage and abortion-on-demand – including partial-birth abortion – positions that are unarguably and overtly unbiblical.
I point this out because to black Christians, the audience on whose behalf Richards appears primarily to be speaking, issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage should weigh just as heavily as the maltreatment of minorities by police officers, of immigrants who are legitimately in need, or the sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children (Ps. 72:4; 82:3-4; Matt. 25:35-40; 7:12). This is especially true when one considers that both homosexuality and the murder of the unborn are no less a violation of God’s precepts and commands as the other issues I mentioned (Lev. 18:22, 20:13a; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Ps. 139:13-16; Prov. 31:8-9).