Paul and Ashley Discuss a Letter to White Evangelicals from a Black Pastor

Paul & Ashley are talking about issues of race again. They explain their journey and why they think this topic is so important. And they share a letter to white evangelicals from a black pastor that is difficult to read, but is one Paul and Ashley urge all Christians to read with a soft, open heart.

Transcript for “Paul & Ashley Discuss Difficult Words for White Evangelicals from a Black Pastor.”

Transcribed by AI so not 100% accurate:

OPENING SOUNDER: [00:00:00] Paul Swearengin: okay. Let’s record three. Two.

[00:00:03] Ashley Swearengin: [00:00:03] Okay. Which podcast is this? You have a lot of them.

[00:00:00] Paul Swearengin: This is, this is the Paul and Ashley podcast on nonpartisan evangelical.

[00:00:10] Ashley Swearengin: [00:00:10] Oh, okay. Are we recording this

[00:00:12] NPE OPEN: for those willing to listen, learn and have eyes to see and ears to hear. This is the nonpartisan Evangelical podcast.

(Donald Tump): I could stand in the middle of fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay. Challenging the mindset of right wing Christianity and encouraging people to have their minds renewed and hearts transformed.

[00:00:39] (Lance Walnau): What knucklehead mush brains evangelical leaders are trying to, to overthrow Trump. It’s a special kinda dumb and call yourself a Christian.

[00:00:52] let’s have better conversations about the life modeled in the Bible so we can truly tell the world God is not mad at you. This is the Non-Partisan Evangelical podcast at

[00:01:12]Paul Swearengin: [00:01:12] all right, cool. We’re here together for another Friday conversation.

[00:01:17] Ashley Swearengin: [00:01:17] Is that what we’re calling myths.

[00:01:20] Paul Swearengin: [00:01:20] I just named it. Okay.

[00:01:21] Ashley Swearengin: [00:01:21] There you go. Hey, that, you know, we’ll have to put some branding around that. this is the second Friday in a row that you and I have sat down and said like, okay, let’s talk about the week.

[00:01:30] Like what just happened? What are we’ve been talking about? You know, as we’ve gone out on our nightly walks together, you know, what’s happening in the news around us. And I guess, I guess. Therefore, this is the Friday conversation.

[00:01:43] Paul Swearengin: [00:01:43] That’s our Friday conversation. Yes. Here we are. I’m Paul Swearingen, the nonpartisan evangelicalism and your Ashley’s swear engine, a nonpartisan Evan

[00:01:54] Ashley Swearengin: [00:01:54] Johnson, right?

[00:01:55] That’s right. We talked about this last week. You are the nonpartisan evangelical. [00:02:00] I am. A nonpartisan Evan Delco, because there should be, and hopefully are many, many, many nonpartisan evangelicals. And we’re defining that as we go along, everyone asks, what does that mean? And you know, there shouldn’t even be any connection between the two, but the reality is we live in America and we live in a church culture where politics and religion are.

[00:02:23] So intricately intertwined, like we just have to call it out like, Hey church, do you realize. That we are completely political. And so you decided you’re going to go ahead and use the words of the political system and attach it to the church because it is the reality of what’s going on in our church.

[00:02:41] Paul Swearengin: [00:02:41] Right. And a lot of people misinterpret that as like, okay, Paul’s going to say bad things about both sides all the time, and it’s going to be equal. And, and the answer is no, I am an Evan gelical minister. And so I’m going to call out my people and non nonpartisan means. I’m [00:03:00] coming out of this partisan, Evan angelical church.

[00:03:02] This, this. Idiot logically and theologically intertwined belief system of what we could call the white Evan angelical church, because I think that’s a major problem in our culture that I think we’re causing. We’re a major cause of the division in our culture, that’s causing big problems. And so I’m trying to call my people out of that.

[00:03:26] Ashley Swearengin: [00:03:26] Your people being other white evangelical, correct lay people, ministers. para church organizations, et cetera.

[00:03:33] Paul Swearengin: [00:03:33] And so people are always going to be, yeah, but the other side does it too. And like, yeah.

[00:03:37] Ashley Swearengin: [00:03:37] But yeah,

[00:03:38] Paul Swearengin: [00:03:38] but I don’t let my kids get away with that excuse. And I’m not going to let our people get away with that because we actually have this book.

[00:03:44] Called the Bible that tells us not to be that way. The other side may not have that book. I don’t know, but we do

[00:03:51] Ashley Swearengin: [00:03:51] well, actually I think the Bible is on the other side too

[00:03:55] Paul Swearengin: [00:03:55] many of our friends don’t believe. So that’s

[00:03:57] Ashley Swearengin: [00:03:57] kind of, that’s another topic for another day. [00:04:00] So do you, when you started the nonpartisan evangelical, now it’s been about a year and a half that you’ve been consistently.

[00:04:07] Putting content up on social media, recording podcasts, inviting conversation from people around the country, experts, et cetera. could you have imagined 18 months ago that we would be sitting here today, looking at dealing with processing through, our nation’s heart, like being, being filleted open.

[00:04:28] And, being in the middle of probably the most significant we should just pause for the record and say, your alarm going off is, it’s five, five, nine. We’re recording this. That is our area code in Fresno. And so that’s your reminder to pray for Fresno

[00:04:45] Paul Swearengin: [00:04:45] 39 every day, my alarm goes off and just. A quick prayer for Fresno.

[00:04:49] Ashley Swearengin: [00:04:49] Yeah. God help us in Fresno. So it was appropriate that we would hear that in the background. But what I was saying is that, do you think you would have known that we would have been here in this moment [00:05:00] of deep, deep, deep racial wounds coming to the surface for all, to see. And again, shining a light on the heart of the American church and the white evangelical church.

[00:05:14] Would you have anticipated that 18 months ago?

[00:05:17] Paul Swearengin: [00:05:17] Well, I certainly didn’t anticipate the, the racial interactions we’re having now. I certainly didn’t anticipate there being a virus that would even that is dividing us politically, whether to wear a mask or not is becoming a political issue or at least.

[00:05:34] More people on the right or are more likely to not want to wear a mask. And people on the left are more likely to want to wear a mask. So, no, I didn’t anticipate what was coming, but you and I have been on this journey for quite a while of like, Hey, there’s something wrong with this partisan religion that we live in, in the white evangelical church.

[00:05:55] And I think we have had some sense. That it was going to come to a [00:06:00] head in some way in the not so distant future. So I guess the answer to the question is yes and no, no way. Did we anticipate the things that have been happening in 2020, one of the craziest years ever, and it’s only halfway through yeah.

[00:06:13] But, but we’ve known for some time, I think, or, or just had some feeling in our, in our quarry, on our spirit that this was going to come to a head at some point in the near

[00:06:22] Ashley Swearengin: [00:06:22] future. Well, so that’s a kind of a long lead in to, our topic for this Friday, this Friday conversation. And, we, we want to press in more on the white evangelical church and we want to ask the question, Is the white evangelical church, like a coverup for just a long history of racism.

[00:06:44] So a nice light topic for this Friday,

[00:06:48] Paul Swearengin: [00:06:48] and make a lot of friends for us. I’ll tell you that

[00:06:51] Ashley Swearengin: [00:06:51] there are folks who were like probably reaching for the, the delete right now on a, on their iPhone and saying like, Ooh, I don’t want to be talking about that, [00:07:00] but here’s the deal. you and I are coming at this just saying like, But we have got to submit our hearts to the bright light of, of God in this moment.

[00:07:11] And we have to allow ourselves to evaluate every square inch of history, every square inch of current practice and every square inch of our own emotional and spiritual. Posturing. Like where are we right now? because, because it’s just really clear, like this is what’s being being called of us, you know?

[00:07:31] So it should be uncomfortable. As my black friends are telling me these days, like we are so tired of you, white people not being willing to be uncomfortable. And I had one of my dear, dear close friends, pastor DJ Criner from st. Rest Baptist church here in Fresno. Said a couple of weeks ago to me and some of my colleagues, I’m always coming to the white man’s table and nothing changes.

[00:07:53] I want you to come to my table. And what that means is we have to show up and have. very [00:08:00] humbling conversations. And so we just want to do that together. And, we’re going to probably say some pretty, maybe some kind of explosive things. We’re going to read a letter or parts of a letter that was submitted this week.

[00:08:13]we’ll talk about that in a second, but like, why not? Right. Why not? Why not just kind of get in there and blow some stuff up.

[00:08:20] Paul Swearengin: [00:08:20] I think we’re in a, in a time in history where we’re supposed to be offended. A little bit, so it will test our hearts. And I wrote a blog last week about standing out in a protest.

[00:08:32] And I said, the main reason I went is because I wanted to be uncomfortable. I think it’s time for us to want to be uncomfortable. So we’re really checking where, where we are mentally, physically, spiritually. Yeah. In interacting with the other people in our culture.

[00:08:49] Ashley Swearengin: [00:08:49] And it’s important for me to say, I think you have a diff slightly different view of this.

[00:08:53] And so you should

[00:08:54] Paul Swearengin: [00:08:54] say something. We were fighting about this before we came on the podcast.

[00:08:59] Ashley Swearengin: [00:08:59] We like [00:09:00] our art. We weren’t all the way to capital F fighting, but we were like starting to like sit up a little bit in each of our chairs and like getting a little snippy with each other. Because I think it’s really important to say.

[00:09:12] I, one of the reasons why I feel uncomfortable talking about race and the things that God is stirring in my heart right now is because I can hear myself talking. And I think it sounds like I’ve got it all figured out that I somehow have. Some elevated way of thinking and I’m really, really kind of embarrassed to come off, like I’m somehow evolved or better than, or like, I don’t know, just hypocritical in some way.

[00:09:40]so it’s, so that honestly, that’s one of the things that keeps me from being more vocal about in, in white and in black spaces about. About where I believe we need to be moving. So I’m going to put that out there, everything that you and I are about to talk about. It’s I think it kind of sounds a little bit like you and I are being too self [00:10:00] righteous.

[00:10:01] And so I am aware of that and I don’t want that to be true. It actually may be true that we are being kind of self righteous in which case, I guess I need to submit that to God as well, but I want to say that, I’m sensitive to it. And this was our fight. You’re not sensitive to that. You say more about what you were saying earlier.

[00:10:17] Paul Swearengin: [00:10:17] If you have a message to share you share it. And if, and you know, I feel like we, I feel like we’ve been giving, given something to share with our community. We’re on a journey. We’re not going to be perfect on it, but I’m actually kind of tired of apologizing for it because I want people just, instead of trying to find ways.

[00:10:41] To defend themselves against the message that I have to share, which is something has to change in the white evangelical church for our culture to be healed. And instead of defending ourselves from that, I would like for people to open the freaking hearts and hear the message. So I’m not going to apologize for it anymore because I [00:11:00] know this is the message for the season.

[00:11:02] Now I hear what you’re saying. I’m not perfect. And I certainly can’t, you know, tell. A black person, a Hispanic person, a person of color, a person from a marginalized community, how they should live and what they should think. But as having a message to the white evangelical church thing, stop defending yourself, let yourself be offended and hear what God has to say.

[00:11:24] And this season I’m kind of done apologizing for that and worrying about if somebody wants to tell me, Hey, that’s divisive because whenever we hear. A message that challenges our heart, our initial response is going to be like, ouch, that hurts. And you and I have done that. We’ve allowed our heart to be filleted open so that doesn’t make us perfect or more righteous than anybody.

[00:11:48] It just makes us on a journey. That we think is really valuable and important and has been freeing for us. And we’re inviting other people into that journey. And,

[00:11:57] Ashley Swearengin: [00:11:57] you know, it makes sense that we would come at this from different [00:12:00] perspectives because in my day job, so, so much of, of the work that I do, I’m with black led organizations or Hispanic led organizations, and you know, people of color and Fresno, we’re a very diverse community.

[00:12:11] And. and I hear the words and out loud, people say this directly, but I also, it also just like rings in my mind. Like where were you on these issues when we needed you? When you were mayor? I hear that.

[00:12:24] Paul Swearengin: [00:12:24] Like, it’s

[00:12:25] Ashley Swearengin: [00:12:25] a really hard, it’s really hard thing to hear. Maybe that’s

[00:12:29] Paul Swearengin: [00:12:29] a topic for another show. You what you guys did to me while I worked in now.

[00:12:34] I’m kidding.

[00:12:35] Ashley Swearengin: [00:12:35] Okay. Everything about what you just did and said is wrong. You, you people can’t see, but you did like a head shake there too. No,

[00:12:46] Paul Swearengin: [00:12:46] the thing is, is that’s actually a normal, healthy human response. When somebody says, where were you? We go, well, you want to know where I was? You want to know how hard it was?

[00:12:55] And that’s a very natural

[00:12:56] Ashley Swearengin: [00:12:56] response,

[00:12:57] Paul Swearengin: [00:12:57] the defensiveness, and that’s what [00:13:00] we have to lay down. When verses in the Bible, say if my people will humble themselves, And pray and seek my face. That’s what humbling yourself means. You have to lay down your defenses, you lay down your weapons and you lay down your protection and say, okay, I’m opening myself up.

[00:13:17] Ashley Swearengin: [00:13:17] Yeah. So, so anyway, that that’s a good, that’s a good little, like a rabbit trail there, but, but I hear it. So I hear that. I hear where were you? I, I do, I do know where my heart was when I was serving as mayor. And I do know the, the work that I. Pushed in the things that I worked on. I know I know where I was going.

[00:13:36] And, I actually feel like it all is part of the big onion, the layers of the onion that have to get unpeeled. And I also am aware of how unaware I was and still am to a great extent, of the issues and the struggles of people of color and the oppression that we’ve experienced in our culture and particularly in Fresno.

[00:13:54] So, so I think there is an, a very honest response that is, I actually think [00:14:00] my record is, is good. I’m proud of my record. And I also realize that that I was super unaware of a lot of important things as mayor. So that’s why that makes sense for me is to like why I’m coming from this place of it’s uncomfortable to talk about this.

[00:14:14] Cause I. I think that’s a really indicting question and it’s a little hard for me to hear and think about from your perspective, the last, you know, whatever 10 years, 15 years for you has been entirely in the evangelical in the church. And, and you, you are constantly. Beat it about beat about the head for, for injecting this notion into the church that man things need to change.

[00:14:38] We really need to wake up. We don’t know what it looks like, but we have to let God evaluate our hearts. You’re always being beat up for that. And you’re just saying I’m sick and tired of that. That is. That is a defense mechanism to keep from dealing with the heart of the matter. And so I can understand why you would react that way.

[00:14:53] And the interesting thing is when you put our two experiences together, the two sides of the coin, that [00:15:00] is the swear engine household. the, what I hear a lot from communities of color in Fresno, for example, is. we need the white people to be leading with other white people and please stop coming to our table and like trying to do your charity, go back to your centers of influence to the white evangelical church and talk to them, which is what you’re doing.

[00:15:23] Right. So anyway,

[00:15:25] Paul Swearengin: [00:15:25] we had a friend send us a letter this week. Yeah. And talk about offending us. This letter was as offensive as it gets.

[00:15:34] Ashley Swearengin: [00:15:34] I mean, I think we were actually excited about it, but

[00:15:37] Paul Swearengin: [00:15:37] it were, but there’s still a little bit you read and you go, Ooh.

[00:15:41] Ashley Swearengin: [00:15:41] That’s very indicting. Okay. So first of all, are we, you’re going to put this up on your page so that people can read it for themselves.

[00:15:48] Paul Swearengin: [00:15:48] Okay.

[00:15:49] Ashley Swearengin: [00:15:49] So this was sent to you from Elihu Harris, who was a former state legislator, and I’m retired now a chancellor of a community college district, long

[00:15:59] Paul Swearengin: [00:15:59] time,

[00:16:00] [00:16:00] Ashley Swearengin: [00:16:00] foreign mayor of Oakland, long time Bay area, leader, political leader, a lawyer by training and also an African American. and loves God resists Bible every day.

[00:16:10] And, he’s had a huge influence in both of our lives. So he sent you this

[00:16:14] Paul Swearengin: [00:16:14] letter Democrat by the way, which some of our friends say can’t cannot exist. I know, I know the man loves Jesus and is a lifelong Democrat

[00:16:22] Ashley Swearengin: [00:16:22] side note. I have had so many fun slash funny conversations. With activists and the Republican party, I asked them, do you pray for Democrats?

[00:16:31] Do you believe that the Holy spirit can stir the heart of a Democrat? And I’ve never seen such a blank look, such a deer in the headlights. Like, no, dear God, God does not exist. On the other side of the political aisle, we could drop the Mike right now and just say, are you freaking kidding me? If that is where your head is at that you think Republicans have cornered God, like my good Lord almighty.

[00:16:57] Anyway,

[00:16:57] Paul Swearengin: [00:16:57] most friends that have won’t admit that they believe [00:17:00] that, but then when you start drilling down into it, they’re like, Oh yeah. But then we do, we do know some that. Right blogs that say you vote for a Democrat and you’re voting for evil.

[00:17:09] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:09] It’s just

[00:17:10] Paul Swearengin: [00:17:10] it’s. It’s

[00:17:11] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:11] cool. I think if I say the word indictment one more time.

[00:17:15] I’ll have to go back and talk about

[00:17:16] Paul Swearengin: [00:17:16] how you have the letter. The letter

[00:17:18] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:18] is written by dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes. The third he’s the senior pastor of friendship, West Baptist church in Dallas, Texas. He’s the cofounder of Samuel Dewitt Proctor conference. All right.

[00:17:29] Paul Swearengin: [00:17:29] Sure.

[00:17:31] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:31] A couple of the excerpts from the letter.

[00:17:32] This is very

[00:17:33] Paul Swearengin: [00:17:33] long American man. Did you, did you mention that?

[00:17:35] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:35] Yeah. four pages front and back. Okay. Single-spaced font. Alright. And it is a true dear colleagues in Christ. So he is writing to the white evangelical church. I’m not going to read this whole thing, but I’m going to

[00:17:46] Paul Swearengin: [00:17:46] pull up pastors, pastors,

[00:17:48] Ashley Swearengin: [00:17:48] I’m gonna pull out some experts.

[00:17:50] He says. we are three African American. We are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than our white counterparts. The racial sickness beneath the surface of the [00:18:00] virus, deadly spread in our communities has made international headlines, but there have been no healing words from you. Denouncing the disparities, no show of Christian forced to confront the fissures that allow these medical and racial viruses to thrive.

[00:18:15] It goes on to the next paragraph. He says, we are sure that you understand that many in our community are emotionally drained and in pain because of the never ending nightmare that has unfolded during this pandemic. Our sorrow has been magnified by your appalling silence and your glaring absence from the scenes of the crimes.

[00:18:33] Calling for justice, skipped on a paragraph is the sin of silence in the face of suffering. Of an enslavement of black people being passed on to the generations. Has it been passed down through the spiritual genes of white evangelical Christianity to ignore injustice while being complicit with systems of racism?

[00:18:52] Honestly, it feels that way to us.

[00:18:55] Paul Swearengin: [00:18:55] Wow,

[00:18:56] Ashley Swearengin: [00:18:56] we have heard, but we hope it is not true that white evangelical Christians don’t [00:19:00] stand for justice for black people because they are more white than they are evangelical.

[00:19:07] Paul Swearengin: [00:19:07] Wait, wait, read that. We read that one again.

[00:19:11] Ashley Swearengin: [00:19:11] We have heard, but we hope it is not true that white evangelical Christians don’t stand for justice for black people because they are more white than they are evangelicalism.

[00:19:21] Okay. It’s better. Dr. Ranita Weems says, quote, make no mistake about it. Evangelicalism is white supremacy disguised as religion.

[00:19:33] Paul Swearengin: [00:19:33] Okay. We just lost a whole bunch of people on the podcast, right there. Okay, again, allow your heart put down your defenses for a second. And hear what you might hear through our friends here.

[00:19:46] Ashley Swearengin: [00:19:46] I’m going to read it. Okay. This is the last paragraph I’m going to read. And then we’re going to stop and talk about this stuff. So I’m gonna read, I’m gonna read what follows that, which is probably the most indicting line in this whole letter. Cause it gets hopeful. dr. Renita Weems says, quote, make no [00:20:00] mistake about it.

[00:20:00] Evangelicalism. Is white supremacy disguised. There’s a religion. And then, he goes on to say, you will have to interrogate gait your faith walk to determine if this is true. We will just say that from our perspective, it appears to be true. We do know that the original sin of the white church in America is racism.

[00:20:21] White evangelical Christianity was complicit in the slave trade in the enslavement of our ancestors, white evangelical Christianity modeled and supported Jim and Jane Crow segregation. The track record of white evangelical Christians on issues of race and racism. Has been abysmal, but the relationships and Christian fellowship that many of us have with you have given us the hope that this generation can be the generation that has the moral imagination and Christian Love to overcome the sins of the past.

[00:20:54] We have faith that we can create a new church in America that will in turn and in [00:21:00] time create a new America.

[00:21:03] Paul Swearengin: [00:21:03] So it ends with a hopeful message. Yeah.

[00:21:05] Ashley Swearengin: [00:21:05] Yeah. Yeah. Well, that paragraph ends with a hopeful message. It goes on, there are other,

[00:21:10] Paul Swearengin: [00:21:10] So we’ll put that up on the website. Yeah. People can read the whole, yeah, the whole of the letter.

[00:21:15] Hi everybody. It’s Paul. Thanks for letting me interrupt and thanks for joining Ashley and I, as we sort of have our weekly processing out loud with you here on the nonpartisan evangelical, I also want to invite you to a special part of the NPE community. That is our Patrion page. Patrion is a website that helps creatives.

[00:21:38] Do what they do and get some support from people at a, at a very low level, ours is $5 and 99 cents a month at its smallest level. And you get some special opportunities with Ashley and me. We do some things just for our Patrion community. I’m going to start doing some of my. Bible thoughts, uh, from time to time on there as well.

[00:21:56] If that’s something that would interest you in one of our major features right now is the [00:22:00] release of my novel. Joseph comes to town when the religious right becomes religiously wrong in audio books series form. I take a few of the chapters. Read them as a segment and record them, put them on the Patrion page for the nonpartisan evangelical Patrion community.

[00:22:16] And then I do a special exclusive commentary of what those chapters mean to me as well, why they were written the way they were. And I think you’ll find that interesting. So if you want to join us on that, go to my website, NP and hit that Patrion button in the upper right hand corner. Let me give you a little sample of what.

[00:22:34] The audio book series sounds like this is a chapter where our protagonist Saul Thompson, who’s the pastor of a mega church and sort of the right wing. Evan angelical leader in his town is speaking to the conservative Republican elected mayor. Andy strap. Who’s a young guy, just elected mayor in that city.

[00:22:53] So often felt for Randy, a young man, constantly being pulled on by everyone from party leaders to [00:23:00] bettering citizens. Andy owed his election to backlinks, conservative, evangelical community, a group of people who take great pride in their ability to elect people from their own ranks and expect a lot from those afforded their loyalty.

[00:23:13] How are you doing Andy? As Saul, as Christy handed the mayor, a glass of water and exited the office. Things are pretty crazy. Pastor said, Andy, as he leaned forward on the couch, I bought people to appreciate me trying to help them. But these days, everyone is as mad as a possum continent, henhouse net. You know, I’m always praying for you.

[00:23:33] So I’ll responded, bouncing his foot a bit, hanging at the end of a leg, crossed over the other to give himself a release from the tension. He felt rolling off of Andy for a guy like Andy strap, who lived for the cheering crowd. This life had to be difficult to bear. Matthew McInnis tells me not to worry about complainer’s Andy shared.

[00:23:52] He says, keep punching the issues our people care about, and that’ll get you to the state legislature. But. Andy seemed to look through Saul [00:24:00] more than Adam as he paused. But you actually want to help people said soul finishing the statement. Saul knew Andy was sincere, although fairly new to the Christian faith, the mayor held prayer meetings and Bible studies right in the mayor’s office, much to the consternation of the town’s liberal wing.

[00:24:16] The prayer meetings were attended by Saul and some of the other elite members of BCC, as well as council members, city management, staff, and others. Separation of church and state screamed the opponents, but Saul and his people enjoyed being in power and having a government lean toward Christian cultural causes.

[00:24:33] The prayer meetings were known as a place to gain influence with city officials, opponents, call it the pray to play method of getting projects. Green-lit by the city. These people felt this was unfair as anyone holding wrong positions on social issues, such as gay marriage or abortion were not welcomed.

[00:24:52] Helping people is what got me into this. And he confirmed that means serving as a good mayor, not taking care of Matthew and the party. [00:25:00] Andy ran his big right hand through his thick mane and lean back, but the really important issues we care about our party issues responded. Saul. Does our party not care about potholes?

[00:25:10] Andy verbally counter punched as he set forward to grab his water glass. And how about putting together a good city plan and a budget meeting? The needs of the people. Does God not care about those issues, pastor? So that’s kind of what it sounds like in our audio book series, and you can get that right now.

[00:25:26] Our first four segments are up. The next is coming soon on that Patrion website. So if you would like to join and help support the cause of the nonpartisan evangelical, go to my website, NPE Click on that Patrion button in the upper right hand corner and join us in this journey together. We would really appreciate it.

[00:25:46] And we love the folks we have on there right now. Again, NBE is the website, click the Patrion button in the upper right hand corner. And it’ll take you to the site and you can join our Patrion community. Now back to my [00:26:00] conversation with Ashley, as we process things with you on the nonpartisan Can I just say one? I love this line here, because this is helpful to the discussion. Racism is not simply about you being mean to us or calling us the N word. Right? Racism is structural. And then he goes on to list the policies in our country. That have been structural blocks to, to economic opportunity.

[00:26:42] Ashley Swearengin: [00:26:42] So

[00:26:42] Paul Swearengin: [00:26:42] let me jump in real quick. I think this is really, really important because I think a lot of white people in, in these last few weeks have been saying I’m not racist and they can justify that in a bunch of white. My family didn’t have slaves. I have black friends, you name it. So [00:27:00] this is defining where we all are a part of racism and need to own.

[00:27:06] W what we may call systemic racism. So,

[00:27:09] Ashley Swearengin: [00:27:09] and I just, this is, yeah, this is just a great laundry list. And, you know, you could, you could go look up each one of these things and even just one of these policies or practices, you could see the impact, the multigenerational impact, but for example, the black codes, the Dred Scott decision Plessy versus Ferguson convict leasing system, voting poll taxes, red lining.

[00:27:35] Blockbusting and exclusion from FHA loans up until the 1950s are just some of the targeted policies that hurt and hindered our communities.

[00:27:45] Paul Swearengin: [00:27:45] Wow. And then I would add white flight. Or economic flight, if we want to call it that socioeconomic

[00:27:53] Ashley Swearengin: [00:27:53] flight window, which is red lining, tying tied to red lining, right.

[00:27:56] Paul Swearengin: [00:27:56] It truly is. It’s, it’s another form of red lining. [00:28:00] and just being, and just being sort of willfully ignorant of systemic race, racist issues, I think also is a contribution to, to the issue that we’re, we’re being called out of now. And again, you and I. Had to come to some realization of like, wow, we’ve been kind of ignorant of this stuff and, and we’ll ourselves on the journey.

[00:28:23] So again, you’re right. We’re, we’re not totally woke in this. We’re just inviting people to start to challenge ourselves. Am I a part of this and stuff.

[00:28:32] Ashley Swearengin: [00:28:32] And I think that, like the part about silence is sin. You know, I mean, that’s, that’s probably where you and I have been unaware, blissfully unaware and therefore silent and therefore complicit in, in.

[00:28:47] People being oppressed and let’s okay. So let me just pause with that and to say, you know, obviously the time, you know, God is allowing all this stuff to surface. And so we get, we get why we’re talking about this, but maybe for people who are [00:29:00] not as. Maybe this is taking, taking them off guard quite a bit.

[00:29:04] Right. why, why is, why are we talking about race? I mean, what’s the biblical, the biblical connection here from your perspective,

[00:29:13] Paul Swearengin: [00:29:13] when we hear the word sin as Christian. So may maybe even in our culture, what we think of is. Oh, the old joke is don’t drink or chew. And don’t date girls that do you know, we, we think of behaviors, gay marriage, or you name the thing that the church looks at as sin, but the theme that is never ending in the Bible from start to finish is that sin is allowing an injustice to flourish.

[00:29:39] It’s on an ongoing basis. The Bible is thing you didn’t take care of. The poor, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner. The marginalized. and, and that is ultimately what the Bible says is the sin that really hurts God’s heart. If you’re not being a champion of justice, for those that create can’t create [00:30:00] justice for themselves.

[00:30:02] Ashley Swearengin: [00:30:02] Okay. So I think I would add to that a little bit, cause I think, I think there’s a little bit of whiteness on what you just said, because I feel like what you just said kind of comes from this framework of it’s our job to rush in and help the downtrodden. Okay. And, and it is true that, you know, that generations of oppression do create, you know, the, the very circumstances of, you know, people being left out of the economy, all that kind of stuff.

[00:30:30] But I actually think it’s deeper than just that it is. what is your view of another human being? And do you see them the way God sees them? Do you agree with God and what God says about that person, that race, that ethnicity, and if there’s anything in you that says like, well, you know, yeah, my race might be a little better.

[00:30:50] I would never say this out loud, but I do really kind of have a stigma towards people of a different race or ethnicity. Like you’re not agreeing with what God has to say about that person or that.

[00:31:00] [00:31:00] Paul Swearengin: [00:31:00] Well, and let me jump in. I don’t think, and people generally will say, I don’t believe that I’m any better than anybody else because of my race.

[00:31:08] Yeah. True. But where it comes through, what we are hearing from, let me say white people in this season is, is like, well, black people do commit more crimes. That though, those people in those parts of town, we need more police there because more crime happens there. And so if we, if you really boil that down, what that has to come through, or here’s another one that I’ve heard on social media?

[00:31:36] Well, there’s, there’s the fathers, aren’t staying at the homes in those neighborhoods. And, and so, so we’re either attributing that to. A less than us in a particular race or group of people, they commit more crimes. They’re less likely to take care of their children and raise them well, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:32:00] [00:32:00] Or we have to step back and go, okay. If those are the statistics, there has to be a Y. Right. And am I a part of the Y or am I silently ignorant of the Y or am I unwilling to jump in and sort of figure out the why.

[00:32:14] Ashley Swearengin: [00:32:14] Okay, so let’s, let’s, let’s look at a couple of examples of where racism existed in the Bible.

[00:32:20] How about tell us about Jonah, tell us about what God did to that guy and what he was trying. It was all about racism.

[00:32:31] Paul Swearengin: [00:32:31] What’s a really good point. Thank you for bringing that up. I think every Christian ought to go read the four chapters of Jonah and particularly Jonah chapter four. I think you were telling me recently about somebody that was saying, when we read the story of the, of the good Samaritan, you know, we’re, we’re never the bad people in the story where we’re, we’re never, when we read the story of the woman caught in adultery, we’re never the woman, we’re never the Pharisee.

[00:32:56] We’re always one of the good people stand

[00:32:58] Ashley Swearengin: [00:32:58] by. I’ll take credit. That’s a [00:33:00] good point.

[00:33:00] Paul Swearengin: [00:33:00] That’s a good one.

[00:33:01] Ashley Swearengin: [00:33:01] And so

[00:33:02] Paul Swearengin: [00:33:02] read Jonah. And say I’m Jonah. Yeah. Think of yourself as Jonah. So Jonah was asked by God to go preach to these people called the Ninevites and Jonah hated the Ninevites.

[00:33:15] Ashley Swearengin: [00:33:15] He was in Israel.

[00:33:16] Paul Swearengin: [00:33:16] He was in Israel.

[00:33:17] He was in Hebrew. He was from Israel. Hated the Ninevites because they had oppressed his people many times they probably had killed a relative of his. He had every right in his heart,

[00:33:30] Ashley Swearengin: [00:33:30] they were warring people.

[00:33:32] Paul Swearengin: [00:33:32] They were

[00:33:33] Ashley Swearengin: [00:33:33] enemies of the nation of Israel. And, it would be like, think about that in a modern day context, like a country that we’d been at war with God was calling, Jonah to go to that country

[00:33:47] Paul Swearengin: [00:33:47] and, and they were racially.

[00:33:49] Theologically, religiously and governmentally different people. They were again like some may look at a Muslim terrorist today. And God said, I want you to [00:34:00] go preach to those guys. And Jonah said, hell no, I won’t go. And he went in the opposite direction and as many know the story, God provided transportation for him to get back through this big fish.

[00:34:12] And Jonah ended up in Nineveh and preach to them. And the people were like, Hey, this is pretty cool. We’ve been waiting for this to happen. And then Jonah went and sat on a high Hill, hoping. Well above all hope that God would destroy these people. He felt like they didn’t deserve God’s mercy. And, and so when he realized that God was not going to kill his enemies, He got really angry at God, so angry.

[00:34:41] He was like, God, just kill me. I don’t want to live in a world where will have mercy.

[00:34:45] Ashley Swearengin: [00:34:45] He was, he was literally in his heart and in out of his mouth was telling God do not be merciful to these people.

[00:34:53] Paul Swearengin: [00:34:53] They don’t deserve

[00:34:53] Ashley Swearengin: [00:34:53] it. They don’t deserve your mercy. Yeah. And what did God say

[00:34:58] Paul Swearengin: [00:34:58] said how’s that working out for [00:35:00] you?

[00:35:00] Ashley Swearengin: [00:35:00] Because

[00:35:02] Paul Swearengin: [00:35:02] I think the actual words of the scripture is do you do well to think this way, Jonah,

[00:35:08] Ashley Swearengin: [00:35:08] I was put it this way. Like who do you think you are Jonah to tell me who I can and can not have mercy on that’s what God was saying.

[00:35:18] Paul Swearengin: [00:35:18] And, and this plant is giving Jonah shade and the plant dies and Jonah gets really upset about the death of a plant.

[00:35:25] And God says to him, You’re upset about this plant dying, that you had nothing to do with it existing at all. And you’re asking me to destroy 120,000 people and their livestock and their livelihood. And so, yeah, it’s such an indicting story. And the interesting thing about Nineveh is it was located on modern day muzzle, which is, which is a town we know a lot about.

[00:35:49] Cause it was the headquarters of ISIS. Yeah. So it’s a great story of racism. And God’s saying, do you do well to have the belief system you have about these other people?

[00:36:00] [00:35:59] Ashley Swearengin: [00:35:59] Yeah. So, I don’t know if we have time for this, if we don’t, we could put, maybe talk about it next week, but, Peter and Cornelius, do you want to talk about that now?

[00:36:07] Paul Swearengin: [00:36:07] I think we better. I think we better wrap it off. Yeah, we probably don’t have a

[00:36:10] Ashley Swearengin: [00:36:10] ton of children who have to eat dinner.

[00:36:14] Paul Swearengin: [00:36:14] But it is, God is constantly through the Bible saying, allow your heart to be tested. Do you do well to believe the way you believe? And as Christians today, we’re constantly saying those people don’t do well to believe as they believe, but we rarely question our own belief system and that’s.

[00:36:34] That’s what we’re trying to do in these days.

[00:36:36] Ashley Swearengin: [00:36:36] So I think it’s good to have practical ways to try to apply this kind of like talking or thinking. and so I’m going to suggest this for anybody who would take me up on this challenge. Paul’s going to put this letter up, hopefully by the time this podcast is up, the letter will be as well.

[00:36:52] So the letter will be like a companion to this podcast. So, so do this print out this letter or upload it on your device [00:37:00] and read it. Right. Read it word for word. I printed it out. I underlined things that stood out to me. I fractured

[00:37:07] Paul Swearengin: [00:37:07] almost, I

[00:37:09] Ashley Swearengin: [00:37:09] mean, literally like read this letter, meditate on this letter just between

[00:37:14] Paul Swearengin: [00:37:14] you and God,

[00:37:16] Ashley Swearengin: [00:37:16] just between you and God and circle the things that are hard for you to hear that you want to just like yell out and be like, that’s not true and that’s not fair.

[00:37:25] And who like do okay. Pinpoint and pay attention to your own heart. When you read this. Where do you react that way? Okay. And then take those things. You’ve circled and literally in prayer and in meditation, imagine that you’re laying that before God. And then, and then say to yourself and to God, God, I submit this to you.

[00:37:46] If there’s anything in this that I need to hear, I need to own. Would you make it clear to me in a way that I can understand simple prayer, walk away and pay attention to what happens? Yeah. Write [00:38:00] it down. Maybe send Paul an email, you know, maybe just like record it somehow. Like, okay. I had this subtle feeling.

[00:38:08] I actually started to have different conversations. I hear the Lord saying different things to me now in my prayer time, whatever that may look like to me, that’s a practical example of submitting your heart to the Lord and just saying, God, I don’t need to hold on to defensiveness or justification of.

[00:38:26] My thoughts and behavior. I instead want to submit that to you.

[00:38:29] Paul Swearengin: [00:38:29] That’s good.

[00:38:30] Ashley Swearengin: [00:38:30] Yeah.

[00:38:31] Paul Swearengin: [00:38:31] Like I coach people all the time.

[00:38:33] Ashley Swearengin: [00:38:33] I’m kind of good at this.

[00:38:33] Paul Swearengin: [00:38:33] You are good at this. I coach people all the time on this idea of what pushes your buttons and examine why it pushes your buttons. And I think the politics right now have a lot of things we need to look at.

[00:38:46] Why does that make me. So angry. And so if I could talk about Hebrews chapter three here

[00:38:56] Ashley Swearengin: [00:38:56] in verse of the week, by the way,

[00:38:57] Paul Swearengin: [00:38:57] this is, this is our passage. And [00:39:00] so I’ll just read this real quick. And in Hebrews chapter three, it says Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future.

[00:39:10] But Christ was faithful as a son over his household, and then I’m going to skip forward. Therefore as the Holy spirit says today, if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts. As in the rebellion, on the day of the testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, tried me and saw my works for 40 years and provoked me to anger.

[00:39:35] So what that is saying. Is the, if this is in the new Testament, this is after Jesus was on earth after the crucifixion, after the resurrection and the writer here is saying, okay, remember that story about where the. Slaves came out of Egypt. Charlton Heston was in the movie where they let my people go and Moses led the people out into the desert [00:40:00] and they were traveling across the desert to get to what was called the promised land, which is modern day Israel today.

[00:40:06] And. And so all along that journey, God is pointing them to the new. Now you’re in a transition season and you’re going into something new and you’re really going to have to trust me to go into that new and all the time they keep saying, why don’t we just go back to Egypt? Yeah, it was horrible. And we were oppressed, but we knew what was happening.

[00:40:27] We knew what was coming. It’s not as messy as this thing we’re walking through now. Freedom is messy. Oppression actually is pretty clean and some, so we sometimes choose oppression. And so the Hebrew writer is saying, Jesus came to do the same thing. Let’s get rid of this old thing and let’s take you into this new thing and that’s going to be a messy process.

[00:40:47] And I feel like today we’re in a similar season where we’re being told let’s, let’s get rid of this old system and let’s move into this new, and I’m not talking about any particular thing. I’m just saying let’s. [00:41:00] Let’s change our mindset from what we’re defending over here into this freedom of this messy place, where we’re not exactly sure what it’s going to look like, but, but we’re standing for justice and we’re leading into the mess of this heart thing.

[00:41:17] And so it’s saying don’t harden your heart when faced with that opportunity. And I think when we get defensive, When we hear a letter, like the one you read there, Ashley that’s us hardening our heart to say no, let’s just stay back with the old things. The way things were because that’s been comfortable for me.

[00:41:35] Ashley Swearengin: [00:41:35] Does that makes sense? Absolutely. It makes sense. Yeah, it does. And I think like another way to think about, we say we stand for justice, like think of it this way. we, we stand for what God think. We, we, we want to be in agreement and in alignment with how he sees people and his heart for people. That’s to me, just like from a, I don’t know, just kinda practical faith perspective.

[00:41:58] That’s the way I think about justice. I [00:42:00] think about justice as being, I mean, God has perfect justice and the reality is we’ll never know perfect justice until. You know until we’re ultimately with him someday, but, but our ambition, our in our, our heart’s desire is to. Partner with him to see that justice exists in this lifetime.

[00:42:19] And, and so, really that’s, you know, as a, as a believer, like if you’re a person of faith and you know, you’re, you’ve never, maybe you’re white and you’ve never, you know, personal privilege, whatever. And you’ve never really had to think about structural racism. And you’re like, yeah, I don’t really understand why I have to.

[00:42:36] And like, just as almost become like this, this word, you don’t want to touch because, people may be that you, you don’t understand what they’re saying have been using it. And you feel like it’s a club on your head. Think of it this way. Justice equals God’s view of people. God’s view of systems, you know, like, and don’t we want that don’t we, I know we want that.

[00:42:58] And I feel like if, [00:43:00] if the, if we’re not experienced, like, like I’m missing out, if there are parts of God’s provision his justice for people in my lifetime, in my community and on this planet, I’m, I’m being denied some freedom and some, some of the. The gifts that God has for society today, I’m, I’m missing out, you know?

[00:43:21] So, so, so having people walk into what God has for them, like that’s good for all of us,

[00:43:28] Paul Swearengin: [00:43:28] you know, in second Chronicles, the reward for humbling ourselves and praying and seeking God’s ways instead of our ways is our land will be healed. And so if somebody is sitting here saying, why is America crazy?

[00:43:42] Like it is, what can we do about it? Humble yourself. Pray, look for God’s face. It says seek his ways and turn from your ways and your land will be healed. So now taking that to a practical level, again, in an oppressive [00:44:00] situation, when there are oppressors over an oppressed people like slavery in the South in America.

[00:44:06] That that brings in oppression over everybody. Yeah. Cause you’re having to fight to keep that oppressive system in place. It ultimately isn’t affecting everyone cigarette

[00:44:15] Ashley Swearengin: [00:44:15] smoke in a casino.

[00:44:16] Paul Swearengin: [00:44:16] Right. So freedom brings freedom for us all. So to take that to a really practical and then maybe a little bit selfish level in Fresno, when we have a system that keeps part of our city in poverty, that impacts us all financially that’s, as, as you were.

[00:44:35] Going for mayor. And we were looking for financial solutions for the economy of Fresno. What you realize is if you have an impoverished part of the city that that creates poverty for all the city, that makes it hard for all of us to see our housing values to go up or

[00:44:51] Ashley Swearengin: [00:44:51] service levels, local revenue ability to attract and retain

[00:44:55] Paul Swearengin: [00:44:55] higher quality

[00:44:56] Ashley Swearengin: [00:44:56] jobs, better educational opportunities.

[00:44:58] I mean, absolutely [00:45:00] like we’re all in the same boat on that.

[00:45:02] Paul Swearengin: [00:45:02] So we can’t say. And, and, you know, not to even mention the cost of law enforcement for that and how much, how much that cost is

[00:45:10] Ashley Swearengin: [00:45:10] for all of us, never able to get out of that pursuit of just trying to deal with the symptoms until, you know, and invest in root causes that that create prosperity.

[00:45:20] Paul Swearengin: [00:45:20] Yeah. So there is a spiritual prosperity where we’re fighting for here. It says pray for the welfare of your city for in your city’s welfare, you’ll find your welfare, but there’s also. Real literal financial implications for all of us as well. If you want to go there as well. So I just, what we’re trying to say is this is not.

[00:45:39] Trying to charitably release some people from oppression. This is trying to release us

[00:45:43] Ashley Swearengin: [00:45:43] our society. That’s right. Our society is imperfect. Yes. Okay. So I’ve made a note that next week’s topic. I think we should talk about white guilt

[00:45:56] Paul Swearengin: [00:45:56] and white guilt.

[00:45:57] Ashley Swearengin: [00:45:57] No, I actually want to dig into that a little bit because [00:46:00] that’s another defense mechanism that I hear people in the white evangelical church of America. Like when you start pressing in a little bit and like Holy spirit starts to reveal some stuff. There’s always a voice that will come in and say, no, no, no, put that away.

[00:46:14] Don’t, don’t go in any further because now you’re just falling prey to this white guilt. So I think we got to talk about that. Let’s take that apart. Let’s look at that. See if it’s a real thing or if that’s just another kind of excuse to not have our hearts. Filleted opened by Holy spirit, which I know is

[00:46:31] Paul Swearengin: [00:46:31] guilty.

[00:46:32] I feel pretty happy.

[00:46:32] Ashley Swearengin: [00:46:32] I don’t feel guilty right now. I’m just telling you, I hear this a lot from white friends and colleagues. As I want to engage in this conversation, then they just assume like, and they kind of look at me like sideways, like, Oh, Ashley, you’re being guilted by someone aren’t you. And the answer is no, I’m not, I’m not.

[00:46:48] But anyway,

[00:46:48] Paul Swearengin: [00:46:48] so I think we should be asking people is, do not harden your heart. Like those guys did in the desert. Let your heart be open to the idea that there may be something you haven’t discovered yet.

[00:46:58] Ashley Swearengin: [00:46:58] Yeah. [00:47:00] So, we’ll see if our, weeks next week, if our, whatever activities of the week, land us in a place where we revisit that topic.

[00:47:08] Yeah. we also all ought to think a little bit more about the humble yourselves, part of the verse that you keep quoting because, we’re coming up on 4th of July. We’re coming up on, a holiday where a lot of, a lot of white evangelical Americans. well, we’re not going to church right now cause of COVID, but you know, we, Greenwood will be a very popular out to be an American Lindley.

[00:47:31]And, thanks. but anyway, this, this, it reminds me of the, like, we’ll hear a lot of, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and I just have been around so many Christians in prayer, you know, settings where it’s like that prayer turns into the, Oh God, won’t you stop other people from sending right when you’re the one who’s always pointing out.

[00:47:54] No, the very first step before even praying is humble yourself.

[00:47:59] Paul Swearengin: [00:47:59] Yeah. So why don’t we [00:48:00] say yourselves?

[00:48:01] Ashley Swearengin: [00:48:01] Not exactly. Would you please cause so and so to be humble, know me, how, how am I supposed to get humbled? Because my land will be healed. If I can be humble Christian Church of America, you want our nation to be healed.

[00:48:16] We are being called to our knees in humility. It’s that simple. So as we go into the 4th of July, that’s where we ought to be. We ought to be on our knees, owning our stuff that this letter starts to call out that dr. Haynes calls out, this is, this is how we heal our land. It’s our humility that we’ll do it.

[00:48:40] Paul Swearengin: [00:48:40] And again, your guidance for people is go on the NP website. Read this letter. Yeah. And let it, push your buttons and then start to ask why is this pushing my buttons? Yes. Is there a humbling of myself? Yeah, I can do it this time. That might [00:49:00] take me into

[00:49:00] Ashley Swearengin: [00:49:00] a new space. All right. Our children are starving and I think our listeners are done

[00:49:06] Paul Swearengin: [00:49:06] what we have to say.

[00:49:07] Ashley Swearengin: [00:49:07] All right. Well, thanks for listening. Have a great week.

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