How the Household Codes Justify Racism

(#10 in a series)

There is a group of white moms in this nation who call themselves “Moms For Liberty”. In Tennessee, one of the most vocal leaders is a nasty woman whose only school-age child attends a private school. Nevertheless, she has made a name for herself attacking public school curriculum that tells the truth about race relations in the founding and building of this nation. I’m not talking about #CRT. This is not about teaching the naked, murderous triangle trade to second graders. This is about “The Story of Ruby Bridges”.

Six year old Ruby Bridges.

If you just dismiss this as more privileged white supremacy in the South, you are making a mistake. It is not just in the South. It’s more pernicious, with implications nation wide.

One of the main criticisms of The Making of Biblical Womanhood is that it exposes the oppression of white women within what is a predominantly white and privileged faith movement. Barr speaks to African American Protestantism briefly in chapter 7, and to the Iglesia movement in the US not at all. To her credit, she now realizes this and has acknowledged her narrow focus. I think her work is so important that we should give her grace—her focus was narrowed by her upbringing in the Southern Baptist church, and on purpose. She is waking up to many realities of the world outside that experience. The good news is that she is growing, as all white feminists—including myself—must grow.

I wrote to the book as she presented it—sans race—because I believe that more white women need to understand what they have to gain from clinging to their own oppression, so that we can stop being a roadblock to ending the oppression of others.

I’ll say that again—white women have something to gain from their oppression. And we know it.

If you read the Household Codes in Paul’s letters, you may have noticed something besides the call for women to submit to their husbands. In Ephesians 6, Colossians 3, Titus 2 and 1 Peter 2, the exhortation for wives is followed by one for slaves: Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse (1 Peter 2: 18). These very verses were used to justify the ownership of slaves in the Southern US through the Civil War. For example, the Presbyterian Church of America (formerly  the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America):

At the start of the Civil War, southern Presbyterian churches split from northern presbyters and formed the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. This southern wing of Presbyterianism explained their defense of slavery in a theology that emphasized a literal reading of the Bible. This reading saw a support for slavery (where does the Bible say slavery is a sin?) and for racial differences (often in the story of Babel).

Presbyterians who opposed slavery were cast as deviating from a literal, faithful reading of the Bible. These were viewed as deviations from true Christianity; abolitionists were using theological arguments, not Biblical texts, to make their case. (, 6/10/2016).

In fact, the PCCSA released a letter to all Christian churches in 1861 exposing their embrace of Original Sin (hierarchy):

“Human rights are not a fixed, but a fluctuating quantity… As you go up, the

number of rights increases, but the number who possess them diminishes. As you

go down the line, the rights are diminished, but the individuals are

multiplied….Before slavery can be charged with doing him injustice, it must be

shown that the minimum which falls to his lot at the bottom of the line is out of

proportion to his capacity and culture.” (Richards, John Edward, The Historical Birth of the Presbyterian Church in America)

I use the PCA as an example, but I could have used the Southern Baptists, whose Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded by slave owners, “backed a white supremacist ideology” (Oldest Institution of Southern Baptist Convention Reveals Past Ties to Slavery, 2018). Or even my own Catholic church, the dominant faith in Spain and Portugal, whose ships initiated and perpetuated the Triangle Trade, and whose Jesuits priests sold 272 slaves from that trade to save the University of Georgetown from bankruptcy. All of them used a strict reading of scripture to justify their participation in one of the greatest sins of humanity, reading justification for enslavement into the bible, just as they did patriarchy, in service to themselves and at complete disregard for the Gospels.

It was—is—a triumph of Original Sin, seeded in our houses of worship.

So here is my confession: as a white Catholic woman, I knew my church had a patriarchy problem. But I didn’t see the racism problem until it sat up next to me in Mass and shouted out during the elections in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. And the reason is not that it didn’t exist, but that I didn’t have to see it. As a white woman, I had that choice.

And that’s what made me realize that white women have something to gain from their oppression: status.

After all,  if the Bible is inerrant in Colossians 3:18, then it must be inerrant in Colossians 3:22. White Christian women  who follow biblical womanhood are expected to submit to their husbands, but the trade off is that they will be held higher than those “down the line” whose “rights are diminished”.  History has borne this out—plenty of violence has been inflicted on people of color in the name of “protecting” white women.

And while Barr is right that the sin of hierarchy has made some white Christian women victims, the trade off has made many more willingly complicit in the sin of inflicting oppression on others. Like the “Moms of Liberty” demanding that the world can only been seen through their eyes and experience, we exchange nominal freedoms for the right to feel better than everyone except the white men in our lives.

And then we call ourselves “oppressed”.

Realizing that my feminism is privileged and part of the problem has been hard for me. But our favorite guy Paul makes the way forward pretty clear:

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little” (2 Cor 8:13-15).

From Conception to Death


October is Respect Life month in the Catholic church.

Like so many Christian churches in this country, we screw it up. And in the screwing up, we drive people away. And we’re too stupid to know that we’re driving people away.

Sunday, at a Catholic church in our valley, there were “Archdiocesan-mandated” petitions for signature after Mass. It was inferred from the Layman’s Minute portion of the Mass that to refuse to sign the petitions was sinful. This was supported by a reminder that the sainted JPII was the Church’s most ardent defender of Respect Life issues.

I was not at this Mass. I would not have been caught dead at this Mass in a church where the director of ministries has decided that boys and girls cannot serve on the altar together–which, by the way, is out of order with the teachings of the Church. And I can’t with JPII.  Plenty of former altar boys and choir girls who might have something to say about his commitment to respecting their lives.

But a friend was at this Mass, and she called me in tears.

“Do you think, less than a week after Vegas, that there was a Respect Life petition about gun control? Or a petition to recall the governor over euthanasia? Or even a petition for the President to help the AMERICAN CITIZENS in Puerto Rico? NOPE. Nothing on the death penalty. Nothing about North Korea. ONLY ABORTION.”

Abortion is a huge cultural failure and in Oregon our legislature recently passed a bill that expanded access to and coverage for abortions and birth control. The outrage is real.

But I have heard the same Knights of Columbus who organize these “Pro-Life” petitions talk about immigrants like they are the scum of the earth. I have heard them vow that their guns will only be taken from their cold, dead hands. I know they voted for this President who refuses to condemn white supremacists and that they scoff at the very idea of climate change.

So I won’t apologize for not picking up what they’re laying down. Their piety is false, as is their concern for life. If they only care about unborn babies, then their “care” is misogynist, political and economic. Shame on them for the damage they do to the heart and soul of our faith.

I will stand with the Sisters, and the young ones like Rebecca Bratton Weiss, who had the courage to call out the dark side of the Trad Pro-Life movement in our church, and lost her job over it, thanks to Catholic white supremacist groups Lifesite and Church Militant.

I will challenge the pretenders, on the sidewalks outside my kids’ school, or like my friend’s husband did on Sunday when he asked where the gun control petition was.

And I will reach out to those pushed away by the hypocrisy and try to show them that the church is faithful, even when her members are not.










Change the name, Washington ~ Dana

sitting bull
Sitting Bull, 1885

I recently found myself in the middle of a debate on Facebook about whether or not the Washington Redskins football team should be forced to change their name or not. I came in on the side of the American Indians, agreeing that the name should be changed. My first comment read, “The word ‘redskins’ is derogatory. And the Native American community IS offended. We can’t tell black people to overcome their hatred for the ‘N’ word because we want to use it as a team name. I know that’s extreme, but the mascot of Compton High School used to be the Tar Babies, which is a very derogatory term… I believe that we should listen to those whom the racial slur is about and honor their wishes. Haven’t we dishonored them enough?”

But a friend of a friend commented that she didn’t think the word “redskin” was that big of a deal. She said that she had never heard anyone being called “Hey, redskin!” and the team should be allowed to keep their name.

And there, my friends, is where I lost my mind.

I mean, I get it. Some people are tired of all of the “PC crap” that is going around this country. There are lots of folks who get crazy around Christmas time if you dare to wish them Happy Holidays instead of a Merry Christmas. I know. I said happy holidays to a lady once, and I even celebrate Christmas, and she went nuts on me. Don’t mess with Christmas.

Another commenter stated that he heard on the news that Indians aren’t even that mad about it, and insinuated that it’s probably a bunch of people looking for their “15 minutes of fame.”

I went on to comment, “That commercial [that you can view here] that aired during the Super Bowl was produced and paid for by the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest, and most representative of Native Indian and Alaska Natives in North America. Seems like a big deal to me. And just out of curiosity, how many American Indians do you know? And would you be comfortable shouting, “Hey, redskin!” next time you meet for coffee?”

The first commenter retorted that she is actually part Native American, and that it’s just her opinion. Just because it’s different than mine, that doesn’t make her wrong. But, yes. Yes it does.

Here’s the thing: unless you are paying attention, or have studied history, you honestly might not know that “redskin” is a derogatory term. Might. Although, we know not to call Asian people “yellow” or African Americans “colored,” but that is beside the point. I’m telling you right here, right now, whether you have heard it used or not, calling someone a “redskin” is derogatory and hateful. It is a racial slur, on the same level as the “N” word. Yes, it is. The etymology of the word comes from an excerpt taken from the Daily Republican newspaper in Winona, Minnesota, from September 24, 1863. It reads, “The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.” In case you didn’t get that, redskin literally means the scalp from a dead Indian that could be turned in for money. There’s a great article (click here) that shows that excerpt, and explains a bit more about the history of the word.

I know, I know, that was then. This is 2014, and the football team doesn’t mean it that way… but we certainly cannot turn a blind eye to what life is like today on the reservation. Do you know that that in 2013, the suicide rate on the reservations was three times the national average, and that one-quarter of Indian children live in poverty, versus 13 percent in the United States? They graduate high school at a rate 17 percent lower than the national average. Their substance-abuse rates are higher. They’re twice as likely as any other race to die before the age of 24. They have a 2.3 percent higher rate of exposure to trauma. They have two times the rate of abuse and neglect.

Or maybe you could read the poignant poem entitled “Red Anger” by R. T. Smith:

The reservation school is brown and bleak
with bugs’ guts mashed against walls
and rodent pellets reeking in corners.
Years of lies fade into the black chalkboard.
A thin American flag with 48 stars
hangs lank over broken desks.
The stink of stale piss haunts the halls.


My reservation home is dusty.
My mother grows puffy with disease,
her left eye infected open forever.
Outside the bedroom window
my dirty, snotty brother Roy
claws the ground,
scratching like the goat who gnaws the garden.


My father drinks
pale moonshine whiskey
and gambles recklessly at the garage,
kicks dust between weeds in the evening
and dances a fake-feathered rain dance
for tourists and a little cash.
Even the snakes have left.
Even the sun cannot stand to watch.


Our limping dog sniffs a coil of hot shit
near the outhouse where
my sister shot herself with a .22.
So each day I march
two miles by meager fields
to work in a tourist lunch stand
in their greasy aprons.
I nurse my anger like a seed,
and the whites would wonder why
I spit in their hamburgers.

Tuscarora, Choctaw, Cherokee…
the trail of tears never ends.

I would like to ask again. Knowing all of this, would you still walk up to a tribal member (not someone whose grandfather’s grandmother was half Indian, according to family legend) and feel comfortable using this word? And if your answer is no, if you would not have the guts to step out from the anonymity of your computer and actually use this word, then why should an NFL team be allowed to CONTINUE to use a name that has historically been used to encourage hate and all out genocide?

Yes, there is a rich history of football under the Redskins name. And yes, the NFL approved the name over 80 years ago. But during that time, it was also legal to segregate schools, lunch counters, and bus lines, and people could ride around in white hoods, burning crosses in lawns.

Change the name, Washington.

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