Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock’s mentor, Dr. James Cone, who fought against “satanic whiteness” and called for the “destruction of everything white” in society.
Warnock, the Democrat heading to a runoff against incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), has praised Cone, a controversial black theologian, as a “poignant and powerful voice” of high “spiritual magnitude.”
Cone served as Warnock’s academic adviser at the Union Theological Seminary; Warnock described Cone as his “mentor.”
Cone is considered the “father of black theology,” as outlined in his 1970 book A Black Theology of Liberation.
Cone contends in the book that “American white theology is a theology of the Antichrist” and calls for a new, Marx-inspired “black theology” that will bring in a revolution to eliminate whiteness from society. For Cone, “black” and “white” are indeed ethnic descriptors but also labels of power; he identifies whites with the “oppressor” majority culture and blacks with the “oppressed” minority culture.
In orthodox Christianity, the divine savior Jesus Christ was crucified not just as an execution by the Roman empire but as an atoning sacrifice to reconcile sinful humans to God their creator. In Cone’s theology, the cross is not about atonement but about “solidarity” with the oppressed. God himself is black, he argues:
Because blacks have come to know themselves as black, and because that blackness is the cause of their own love of themselves and hatred of whiteness, the blackness of God is key to knowledge of God. The blackness of God, and everything implied by it in a racist society, is the heart of the black theology doctrine of God. There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God’s experience, or God is a God of racism.
Thus, Cone argues in Black Theology, salvation comes from being like God and becoming “black” — that is, adopting total political solidarity with the black community. He declares that “satanic whiteness” makes “white religionists” incapable of “perceiving the blackness of God;” therefore, they must purge themselves of said whiteness: “There will be no peace in America until white people begin to hate their whiteness, asking from the depths of their being: ‘How can we become black?'”
Warnock’s mentor charged that this black theology would pursue the “destruction of everything white,” explaining:
The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods… If whites were really serious about their radicalism in regard to the black revolution and its theological implications in America, they would keep silent and take instructions from blacks. Only blacks can speak about God in relationship to their liberation. And those who wish to join us in this divine work must be willing to lose their white identity — indeed, destroy it.
To drive the point home, this directive to destroy all that is white extends to God himself. “If God is not for us, if God is not against white racists, then God is a murderer, and we had better kill God,” he writes.
And in his political praxis, Cone does not rule out physical violence:
We have reached our limit of tolerance, and if it means death with dignity, or life with humiliation, we choose the former. And if that is the choice, we will take out some honkies with us… The black experience is the feeling one has when attacking the enemy of black humanity by throwing a Molotov cocktail into a white-owned building and watching it go up in flames. We know, of course, that getting rid of evil takes something more than burning down buildings, but one must start somewhere.
Decades after Black Theology‘s publication, Cone wrote in a preface for a new printing that he no longer views the Bible or Jesus Christ as exclusive revelations of spiritual truth. “I am black first — and everything else comes after that,” he said. “This means I read the Bible through the lens of a black tradition of struggle and not as the objective word of God.”
The Bible therefore is one witness to God’s empowering presence in human affairs, along with other important testimonies. The other testimonies include sacred documents of the African-American experience — such as the speeches of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, the music of the blues, jazz, and rap. Liberating stories, myths, and legends are also found among men and women of all races and cultures struggling to realize the divine intention for their lives. I believe that the Bible is a liberating word for many people but not the only word of liberation.
Warnock touted Cone in his own 2013 book, 2013’s The Divided Mind of the Black Church, as well as in a 2018 eulogy.
“How blessed we are that someone of the spiritual magnitude and power and commitment of Dr. James Hal Cone passed our way,” Warnock said at Cone’s funeral.
After the 2016 presidential election, Warnock condemned white Christians and called President Donald Trump a “fascist, racist, sexist xenophobe.” Warnock has also repeatedly praised the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright and defended Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon. The Georgia Democrat has also praised Marxism as a way to “teach the black church.”
Wright also thanked Cone’s work for inspiring his own religious writings.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.