White Christian Nationalists have been kneeling at the altar of the idol of militarism for many decades, which is why a White Christian Nationalist like unelected Georgia U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler has decided to make criticizing Rev. Raphael Warnock’s critique of the idolatry of militarism one of her main election strategies. It should also be noted that Martin Luther King Jr. was relentlessly attacked by White Christian Nationalists for his denouncement of the evil of militarism in the 1960s.
Listen to these words from King’s 1967 book, Where do We Go from Here: Chaos of Community?: “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered”
King goes on to say, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal opposition to poverty, racism and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when ‘every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.’”
When Rev. Warnock said “you cannot serve God and the military,” he was not saying one cannot serve in the military; he was rejecting the idolatry of militarism that has been a problem among American Christians, especially among White Christian Nationalists, for far too long. If you profess to be a Christian, you cannot serve the military as your ultimate concern – you cannot serve the military like you serve God.
Before Christianity was co-opted by empire, early followers of Jesus were clear about this distinction. They knew they were serving God and not Caesar. They knew they were serving God and not mammon. Early Christians were quite clear that their ultimate service was to God, and Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as being quite clear about this in his teachngs: “You cannot serve both God and Mammon” Jesus says. And when Jesus says “render under to God what is God’s and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” it is quite clear that Caesar is not due anything close to what God is due.
Unfortunately, many media outlets sadly have fallen into the propaganda trap that White Christian Nationalists like unelected Senator Loeffler have laid. By putting only the excerpt “you cannot serve God and the military” from Rev. Warnock’s sermon in many of their headlines, the casual reader, and especially other White Christian Nationalists, will likely jump to conclusions about Warnock’s criticisms of militarism that are not warranted. This is how propaganda works.
The reality is that Rev. Warnock is in a long line of followers of Jesus, going all the way back to the Jesus of the Gospels himself, who recognize that to have faith in God and follow the way of Jesus is to serve the way of God as the only true ultimate in one’s life and to live out this service of God through acts of love and justice in the world – something that the idolatry of militarism fails miserably to do. A more accurate headline for what appointed Senator Loeffler is doing might well read “Senator Loeffler Criticizes Rev. Warnock for Preaching the Gospel.”