The annual Values Voter Summit started Tuesday night with speakers uniting in glee at the idea of a Trump-appointed, Republican-confirmed Supreme Court justice who could take down Roe v. Wade. The religious-right gathering for conservative evangelicals and their political allies, hosted by the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, also wasted no time lodging an attack on a group they believe to be antithetical to their particular right-wing Christian worldview: Black Lives Matter.
Invited to argue that point was Eric Metaxas, a white right-wing author and radio host who has argued that white Christians deserve credit for ending slavery in the United States. Metaxas, sitting in front of a cartoon cutout of “Donald” dressed in an American flag toga holding a club with the words “We The People,” began by claiming Black Lives Matter does not care about Black lives.
“BLM is a Marxist group. They do not care about Black lives,” Metaxas told Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. “Marxists don’t have any values, they don’t have any transcendent authority to which they answer, and they are perfectly willing to lie to gain power. And they have gained tremendous power and gotten a lot of money by saying they care about Black lives and racial justice. Well, everything that they do, everything that they say on their website is precisely the opposite, they want to undermine the nuclear family. That is at the very heart of destroying Black communities across America.”
The words Metaxas and other conservative evangelicals find so offensive on the BLM website appear to be these: “We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”
The major concern Metaxas seemed to have, however, was that some evangelical Christians have become sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, set off anti-racism protests and conversations around the country.
“If you really care about Black lives, you would oppose almost everything that Black Lives Matter has said,” Metaxas continued. “But again, they have hijacked the idea that Black lives matter–which everyone I know would agree with that–but they have hijacked that idea, they have created a Marxist movement, and they have very brilliantly and cynically co-opted many American evangelicals. There are many good American Christians who have bought into this idea, who don’t understand that if you buy into their language of systemic racism and of white supremacy–once you buy into that language–you’re dead.”
Metaxas tried to compare Black Lives Matter protesters to the Nazis, suggesting that those who oppose the Black Lives Matter movement are much like German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“It’s just what happened to the German church in the 1930s,” Metaxas claimed. “They thought, ‘You know, we’ll go along with Hitler.’ They had no idea the death camps were ahead, but they said, ‘Well, he’s saying some things, and we’ll sort of allow the Nazi philosophy to infiltrate the church a little bit. We’ll control it. It’ll be OK.’ But what Bonhoeffer said is that if you get on a train going in the wrong direction, running along the corridor going in the opposite direction is not going to help very much.”
In case Bonhoeffer’s words weren’t convincing in this particular setting, Metaxas turned to the contemporary right’s favorite civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., and his “I Have a Dream Speech.”
“And anybody who loves God, and who cares about racial harmony in America, has to understand that Black Lives Matter, just like antifa, stands for things that are antithetical to racial harmony,” Metaxas said. “Martin Luther King was a Christian. He spoke openly about using the Christian faith and Christian values and biblical values and American values. The promissory note [from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech] notes the founding documents to further what was right, and many Americans could see that and eventually understood that. And he made progress. Black Lives Matter and antifa and the radical left, they don’t believe in God, they won’t say that openly, and they will very happily use churches to further their agenda.”
Metaxas, who was recently videotaped sucker-punching a demonstrator on a bike protesting outside the Republican National Convention event held at the White House, is not alone among religious-right activists in criticizing how demonstrators have chosen to protest anti-Black racism. Indeed, even Martin Luther King Jr. and the methods by which he protested were considered radical during his time, and he was attacked for being a democratic socialist. No matter, Metaxas insisted the only way to help “the urban poor” is to “vote for the party that believes in a robust virtuous capitalism.”
“This is a real existential crisis in America. This is not just another election,” Metaxas said, adding that Christians “have an obligation to stand against BLM and anything smacking of Marxism or socialism.”
The Values Voter Summit often attracts big names in conservative politics, including President Donald Trump since 2015. Night one of the Values Voter Summit also featured Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and interim Acting Director for USAID John Barsa. Summit speeches continue online throughout the week in the evenings, capped off with an activist training on Saturday.