GOP Congressman Claims Institutional Racism Can Be Cured by the Bible

David Alan “Dave” Brat, a former professor of economics who now serves in the United States House of Representatives for Virginia’s 7th congressional district, says institutional racism is taking the Bible out of public schools.

According to Brat, the people rioting in Charlotte were radical groups “funded by George Soros” or just “confused people.” Apparently, if they had a Bible-based moral education, they wouldn’t mind being gunned down by the police for no reason whatsoever.

Listen courtesy of Right Wing Watch:

According to Brat,

“The Democrat policy in education is holding back an entire generation from being successful, and then you end up with this racial system when your school system … [is] teaching them about isosceles triangles but we’re not giving them any hope.”

O where O where can you find hope? One guess:

“There is institutional racism, and if Obama and Hillary want to talk about institutionalized racism, I just mentioned the source of it. It’s their own policies. that’s where the institutional racism is, right? When you don’t tell people what is ethically good and bad, right, if you cannot even define what a morally good life is anymore and you block the Bible and you block the Judeo-Christian tradition and you block the Baptist church, which is fundamental in the African-American community, from being the voice of power and the only hope you give is a broken federal system of government…”

This appeal to the Bible as the cure for racism is an interesting claim, given the Bible’s key role in the defense of Southern slavery.

And even after the Civil War freed the slaves, as Carol Kuruvilla noted at HuffPo, “This rhetoric of supremacy sanctioned by God was repeated in churches across the South.”

And before you get all “factual” and protest that this is confusing racism with religion, let Brat dig his hole a little deeper by claiming the only source of morality is the Bible, and an invented intellectual construct labeled “Judeo-Christian.”

Of course, morality is entirely possible without the Bible, as centuries of moral people lived before the Bible was written. And science has now proven it. And there is no “Judeo-Christian” anything.

The Jews rejected Jesus and Christianity made Jews pay for that fact with centuries of persecution, forced conversions, and pogroms. There is a strong undercurrent of anti-Semitism among Trump supporters that is undeniable.

From a quick appeal to Wikipedia a short list can be made of those which came before the Law of Moses: Code of Urukagina (2,380-2,360 BCE); Cuneiform law (2,350-1,400 BCE); Code of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (ca. 2050 BCE); Laws of Eshnunna (ca. 1930 BCE); Codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (ca. 1870 BCE); Babylonian laws / Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1790 BCE); Hittite laws (ca. 1650–1100 BCE); Code of the Nesilim (c. 1650-1500 BCE); Assyrian laws / Code of the Assura (c. 1075 BCE).

For exammple, Hammurabi says,

“Anum and Enlil named me…Hammurabi…to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, that the strong may not oppress the weak.”

When we finally arrive at the Law of Moses, we find it was compiled over a period of centuries from the ninth to the fifth centuries BCE.

Moreover, it is unoriginal, being written in the style of a Hittite vassal treaty,* which itself is a Near Eastern treaty form which dates back to before the Hittite civilization. Yet Brat expects us to believe no moral person existed before the Law of Moses, or, more precisely, Jesus.

Yet the Roman Twelve Tables date to the fifth century BCE, and as one scholar notes in a study of early Christian morality, we find “in the Iambi ad Seleucum of Amphilochius of Iconium, friend of the Cappadocians and cousin of Gregory Nazianzen, the exhortation to follow the ethics of the pagans but not their theology.”**

Nothing wrong with non-Christian ethics then, Brat’s claims aside. That same scholar notes that Christian apologists of the second century “took pains to emphasize the similarities rather than the divergences between their beliefs and the pagan wisdom of the Roman Empire.”

Yet we find Brat saying the source of racism is the absence of “any nationally prominent philosophers or theologians out there promoting the Judeo-Christian tradition in the African-American community and across the board in education.”

This is a base absurdity. Morality is not dependendent upon any religion, including Brat’s version of Christianity. It is oxymoronic to expect that Trump supporters, who are both racist and religious, can cure their racism with their religion, yet this is the logical conclusion of Brat’s assertion.

Violating the First Amendment will not provide a cure for racism. Its roots run much deeper. As Dr. David Livingstone Smith wrote in Psychology Today,

“In the end, both Nazis and North American racists looked to a person’s ancestry to determine their race. This strategy was based on the bizarre idea that race is carried by something that is found in bodily fluids–especially blood–and thereby transmitted down the ‘bloodline’ of descent.”

Let’s face it. Kooky ideas about bloodlines and descent aren’t going to be cured by the Bible. Noam Chomsky has said that even with the Thirteenth Amendment, “Black life was criminalized by overly harsh codes that targeted black people.”

Black people are still being targeted today, and it isn’t that those people who are being targeted lack a “Bible-based moral education” but that the people shooting them have kooky ideas about race that have nothing to do with the Bible.

* George Mendenhall “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition” The Biblical Archaeologist 17 (1954), 58-60.
** John Whittaker “Christianity and Morality in the Roman Empire” Vigiliae Christianae 33 (1979) 210