On Wednesday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo appeared to compare Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) recent “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” remarks to Karen Pence’s new teaching job at a private Christian school that asks its teachers and students to abide by Christian ethics relating to sexuality.
CUOMO: So now Steve King’s hometown paper, “The Des Moines Register,” is calling on him to resign from Congress. But when the White House was asked about the President’s position, we got this.
Cuomo then played a clip in which White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders states: “Steve King’s comments were abhorrent, and the Republican leadership, unlike Democrats, have actually taken action when their members have said outrageous and inappropriate things. I hope that Democrat leadership will follow the very strong and rightful leadership that the Republicans have done over this.”
CUOMO: All right. So forget about the camera work. It wasn’t an answer, and that’s not acceptable. And there’s no whataboutism on my watch – not here. When a president will not take the opportunity to condemn a message of white supremacy, choosing to do nothing here sends a message. As the epic rock band Rush taught us, even if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. And this choice echoes to all who comprise America’s matrix of minorities, who fear being treated as less than, blacks, Latinos, ethnics, LGBT, too.
None is welcome in that message of hate. Still worse, the President’s quiet forces the suggestion that he supports what he fails to oppose. Factor this in. Karen Pence is the wife of the vice president. She’s teaching art at a place where the application requires would-be employees to initial next to a list of beliefs, including certain moral misconduct, [which] includes homosexual or transgender identity as being disqualifying or any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.
Now, don’t cheapen my argument by saying, “Cuomo’s equating Christianity and white power.” Please, that’s just a slip of an obvious point. I am a flawed, failing, repentant Christian, okay? If I had any bias, it would be in favor of faith.
The point is that the value of exclusion is embraced here, and our vice president’s wife, in the place where she is, it does the same thing, and it adds to the anxiety for people around why this White House, why this president doesn’t speak out against a member of his party that embraces a message that isolates the same kinds of people that are being singled out with the vice president’s wife works.
And remember, this all comes after the President said good people march with the KKK, and all the other crap that makes the hateful grateful for this president. Either the President agrees with Representative King or he does not. The President finds time to tweet about myriad minutia. He can tweet about this, but he doesn’t.
Is he really afraid of losing people who agree with such ugly ideas? How about this as a counter-thought? Imagine how many people he might add to the fold from the tolerant majority if he were to show that he rejects this virulent minority.
New argument. Maybe the time has passed, and maybe the passing of time has given us our answer. The next time my brothers and sisters on the Right say it’s wrong to have people call them out about issues surrounding bigotry and intolerance, remember this moment. Remember what the President who heads your party refused to do. I won’t forget. None of us can. This matters too much.
Immanuel Christian School, the Springfield, Virginia institution at which Karen Pence is teaching, allegedly has its employees sign a statement of faith, and place their initials next to a series of “articles of employment.”
The statement of faith contains, more or less, boilerplate theological teachings based on a Christian interpretation of the Bible, such as: the scriptures are the “authoritative written revelation to mankind”; the “death of Christ is full payment for our sins”; and that Christians “will enter a new heaven and new earth prepared for them to enjoy perfect, everlasting fellowship with God” after Christ returns.
One of the articles of employment states:
I will strive to live a personal life of moral purity that is separated from the world according to Scriptures, as defined by the Statement of Faith of Immanuel Bible Church and agreed upon by the Elders and Pastors of Immanuel Bible Church. I understand that the term “marriage” has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Further, I will maintain a lifestyle based on biblical standards of moral conduct. Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law. Further, I am not, nor have been in the past, engaged in inappropriate conduct toward minors, nor do I have inclinations toward such conduct. Persons so involved or who condone such behaviors cannot be employees of Immanuel Christian School.
An apparent student application form for Immanuel Christian School has parents sign a document called the “parent agreement,” the beginning of which reads in part:
While we recognize that not all parents will agree with every item in this statement, it is necessary that the parents agree to support the premise that their child will be taught from the perspective provided in our statement of belief.
Our faculty is sensitive to areas of difference among Christians who love the Lord and seek to obey the dictates of Holy Scripture. We focus on the areas of agreement, not on issues which divide. It would be unacceptable for students or parents to seek to propagate doctrines that divide or are not in agreement with our statement of belief.
The agreement continues, asking parents to place their signature below a list of affirmative statements, one of which reads:
I understand the biblical role of Immanuel Christian School is to partner with families to encourage students to be imitators of Christ. This necessarily involves the school’s understanding and belief regarding biblical morality and standards of conduct. I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school.
None of what appears in the above statements is controversial among Christians. Multiple scriptures speak of “sexual immorality,” which includes homosexual conduct, sex outside of marriage, and adultery (Matthew 19:4, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Jude 1:7). Christian churches around the world believe that homosexual conduct, premarital sex, adultery, and other such behaviors are sinful, and are in defiance of God. Some churches have certainly shifted with the culture, but congregations that view the scripture as inspired and immutable have not.
While the beliefs mentioned in the quoted portions of the Immanuel Christian School agreements are scripturally based, white supremacy is not.
Setting aside the fact that Jesus and his apostles were not Caucasian, but of middle eastern descent, there are numerous scriptural references to racial and ethnic inclusiveness (Exodus 22:21, Matthew 28:19, Acts 10:34-36, Romans 10:12, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Revelation 7:9). Anyone who claims the mantle of Christianity while simultaneously expressing racist ideology is not following the teachings of the New Testament.
To draw any parallel between Rep. King’s unacceptable remarks and Karen Pence’s job at a Christian school that asks teachers and students to abide by Christian codes of conduct is ludicrous. But because such a line has been drawn, the question must be asked – if Cuomo believes that this particular Christian precept is comparable to white supremacy, and should thus be abandoned, what comes next?