Southern Baptist Pastors Compare Kamala Harris To Bible's Queen Jezebel

Written by on February 9, 2021

Regardless of calls from fellow Southern Baptists, two Texas pastors have but to apologize for evaluating Vice President Kamala Harris to Jezebel, a Biblical queen whose title has turn into shorthand for a girl who’s manipulative, seductive, and depraved.

There’s a distinctively racist and sexist undertone to the label, because the Jezebel trope has been used to denigrate Black girls for years, students say.

Probably the most notable Southern Baptist to sling the title Jezebel on the nation’s first feminine, Black and Asian vice chairman was Steve Swofford, a pastor who sits on the Southern Baptist Conference’s govt committee, a church physique tasked with operating the enterprise of America’s largest Protestant denomination. 

Throughout a speech at his Rockwall church, Swofford questioned aloud what would occur if President Joe Biden stepped down and “Jezebel has to take over.”

“Jezebel Harris, isn’t that her title?” Swofford stated on Jan. 3, in keeping with Baptist Information World.

Swofford, who was a boss on the group accountable for deciding on the chief committee’s president, didn’t reply to HuffPost’s request for remark. SBC’s govt committee didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

One other Texas pastor, Tom Buck, in contrast Harris to Jezebel two days after her inauguration, as individuals celebrated her historic new function. 

“I can’t think about any really God-fearing Israelite who would’ve needed their daughters to view Jezebel as an inspirational function mannequin as a result of she was a lady in energy,” Buck tweeted on Jan. 22.

Buck later doubled down, stating that his downside with Harris was her “godless character” as somebody who helps growing girls’s entry to abortion, in addition to defending LGBTQ individuals’s proper to marry.

Valerie Cooper, an affiliate professor of Black church research at Duke Divinity College, informed HuffPost it’s unimaginable to disregard the racist connotations of the label, particularly when it’s lobbed at Harris. 

“To drag out this outdated chestnut with reference to a lady of colour is simply horrendous,” Cooper stated. “It has not solely misogynistic layers of interpretation, however it’s additionally frankly racist in its utility.” 

J.D. Greear, the SBC’s present president, stepped in on Twitter to denounce the comparisons ― with out naming the pastors accountable.

“I notice that some pastors are doubtless unaware of the historical past of sure racial stereotypes in calling or evaluating our Vice President to Jezebel, however that doesn’t make such statements any much less unwise,” Greear wrote on Twitter final Tuesday. “There are occasions we’ll critique insurance policies, however that ought to not embrace private assaults on a newly elected official God has informed us to honor and pray for.”

Jezebel was a queen who seems within the Bible because the spouse of an historical ruler of Israel, King Ahab. The daughter of a Phoenician king, Jezebel was fiercely loyal to her personal tradition. She refused to put aside her personal non secular beliefs after marrying Ahab, as a substitute encouraging her husband to worship her gods, Baal and Asherah. The Bible suggests Jezebel was additionally snug wielding political energy, threatening the Prophet Elijah after he had Baal’s clergymen slain, and arranging the homicide of a land proprietor in order that Ahab may seize a winery. When she realized she was going to be killed, Jezebel didn’t cower ― as a substitute, she put on make-up, fastened her hair, and waited for loss of life at her palace window.

The title Jezebel actually means, “The place is the prince?” or in trendy phrases, “The place is your husband?” in keeping with Tamura Lomax, creator of “Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Feminine Physique in Faith and Tradition.”

“The title Jezebel was truly meant to be a slur as a result of she didn’t undergo patriarchy,” Lomax informed HuffPost.

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Over time, the label Jezebel got here to suggest a lady who’s sexually promiscuous, untrustworthy and a risk to society. Within the American context, the Jezebel stereotype was weaponized towards enslaved Black girls. They have been known as Jezebels as a result of they worshipped deities moreover the Christian God ― and since they have been fighters, Lomax stated. 

“They understood the barbaric nature of plantation life was inherently morally corrupt and thus a relentless supply of imminent loss of life. And but, they nonetheless discovered methods to expertise pleasure and queen up,” Lomax stated.

Black enslaved girls have been additionally painted as inherently sexually promiscuous, Lomax stated, which meant plantation house owners, who have been largely Christian, have been absolved of duty for being perpetrators of sexual violence. Earlier than the Civil Warfare, enslaved Black girls within the South couldn’t file rape expenses towards a white man.

The Jezebel stereotype nonetheless has resonance in the present day, Lomax stated ― in the best way Black girls and women are thought-about sexually immoral and untrustworthy threats to society, and barely seen as victims of rape.

“The jezebel trope is explicitly traditionally and culturally racialized, and it particularly impacts Black single moms, Black girls in energy, and powerfully sexually expressive Black girls and women,” she stated. 

Buck, the Texas pastor who in contrast Harris to Jezebel on Twitter, insisted that he wasn’t being racist. He refused to budge on his resolution to check Harris to Jezebel even after being knowledgeable that utilizing Jezebel’s title towards a Black lady was a racist trope.

The Southern Baptist Conference has had a notoriously laborious time grappling with racism in its ranks. Breakaway Baptists created the denomination in 1845 as a consequence of disagreements with their counterparts within the North over slavery. It took 150 years for SBC management to formally apologize for the denomination’s protection of slavery. At the moment, the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists are white and Republican ― and the denomination nonetheless struggles to know systemic racism.

Final yr, the leaders of all six Southern Baptist seminaries pledged to not train college students about vital race idea, a key methodology that students have developed to look at how systemic racism persists in America. Greear, the SBC’s present president, has stated that he helps the seminary leaders’ core argument. The leaders’ place prompted a number of Black pastors to go away or ponder breaking from the denomination.

Kamala Harris is America's&nbsp;first female, first Black and first Asian-American vice president.

Kamala Harris is America’s first feminine, first Black and first Asian-American vice chairman.

Harris stands out as a lady who has achieved important political energy at a time when Southern Baptist girls are nonetheless prohibited from main congregations. Solely males might be pastors and Southern Baptist girls who preach to combined audiences of women and men can face intense backlash and scrutiny. 

Cooper stated it’s additionally essential to keep in mind that ― whereas Harris identifies as Baptist herself ― she is the kid of a Hindu, Indian lady and the spouse of a Jewish man. Pastors’ reference to Jezebel is a manner of explaining how a white man is being manipulated by a “unusual lady he’s allowed into the camp.” 

“The suggestion is that she is someway introducing international worship and main astray, on this case, it will be Joe Biden,” Cooper informed HuffPost. 

When pastors name Harris a Jezebel, they’re suggesting that she might be disregarded and even dispatched as “illegitimate” for her dedication to her personal non secular convictions and for being an “unruly, outspoken lady” ― simply because the Biblical Queen Jezebel was, in keeping with Darnise Martin, a medical affiliate professor of African American research at Loyola Marymount College. 

Martin stated she isn’t stunned that Southern Baptist pastors lack the abilities to interact with Harris’ historic election, and that they proceed to overlook the mark about understanding their very own racism as they assault the vice chairman.

“The idea of anti-racism is misplaced on the [Southern Baptist Convention], and but they’re a main instance of why it’s so desperately wanted particularly for his or her largely white, conservative membership,” Martin stated. “Sure, extra must be performed to stamp out racism amongst their flock, however first they must acknowledge the systematic presence of white supremacy inside their non secular practices. They present us that they aren’t prepared for that.”


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