Theological Consequences of GRT

Supremacy is often masked as patriotism then slapped with the label Christian. No clearer is this seen than in the Great Replacement Theory (GRT), a “dark and extreme ideology” which essentially says that nonwhites are replacing white people and white culture in Western societies.[1] This version of supremacy uses dehumanization to make myth feel like reality.

Most people I know would concur that the Great Replacement Theory is a racist and xenophobic theory, just as many would agree that the people who commit overt acts of racism are racists. These are important conversations to have, but what is just as important is that we talk about the subtle forms of racism. We cannot just dismiss GRT and say that we do not need to worry about it. We need to talk about how pieces of this theory are alive and well, and sometimes considered ‘good’ to many people, including and especially Christians.

In his article, How the Church Can Combat the Idolatry of White Mythology, Ryan Kuja says:

In any given context, the myth and the history of a place exist alongside one another. But the power of myth lies in its ability to create a sense of identity, group belonging, and collective destiny—which means that it is more potent and influential than history itself. Myth is a living, animating force; history, the events that happened “back then and there,” is covered in myth’s long shadows.

There’s serious damage done when we see Christians and especially Christian pastors arguing against Critical Race Theory[2] but staying silent about the Great Replacement Theory – especially when those pastors are white men. Critical Race Theory is a lens with which people are challenged to see that “racism is more than the result of individual bias and prejudice,”[3] and they are challenged to see that power in U.S. society is given most sweepingly to white men because of systemic infrastructure built on the idea that whiteness and maleness are the most deserving of power.

Unlike history, mythology is allowed to leave out, euphemize, or paint over pieces of reality. And unfortunately for most of us, what we’ve thought of as history has actually most predominantly been mythology – a version of history that slants reality to skirt accountability.

One major aspect of mythology that has led the American church for far too long is the idea that the value of a human being is found only in one’s soul. If human beings are only their souls, then the church can justify anything done to the bodies of its neighbors, even its congregants – and Lord knows we have seen many injustices done in the name of God because of this belief. Concerning itself only with eternal salvation, the church easily becomes complicit in sanctioned acts of dehumanization.

The Great Replacement Theory simply pivots the focus of this same type of dehumanization from soul salvation to political affiliation. Many current proponents of the theory are concerned that nonwhite immigrants will come and “take over” by voting for a certain political party. If human beings are only their votes, then proponents of this theory can easily justify acts of violence to keep ‘them’ away from the ballot boxes. And Lord knows, there have been plenty of hate crimes done in the name of GRT.

As the author of a Christian book on immigration, Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child’s 3,000 Mile Journey, I have spoken to many church groups about the complexities of the immigration system in the United States. One of the most common responses I heard is people saying that there’s no room for immigrants: not enough jobs, not enough housing, not enough land. This is where I see the softer version of this detestable theory: in the idea that human beings are only their economic worth. When passport-holding white Christians see this country through this scarcity lens, the one that says there is not enough and there will never be enough, we dehumanize both ourselves and our immigrant neighbors. Christians, the followers of the God of abundance, the God of Jubilee, the God who makes water pour from rocks and bread fall from the sky, so easily justify their fearful decision that there’s not enough to go around. And that justification dominos into the real belief that immigrants are only a slice of their actual humanity.

The frightful consequences of this theory can be seen in some very disturbing acts of violence (see Immigration Forum’s PDF on The Great Replacement Theory Explained). But I want to warn us that it’s not just the visible consequences we need to bear witness to, but also the theological consequences of masking our myths as truths, especially those rooted in the theme of dehumanization. The Great Replacement Theory might be easily spotted, but when we pivot the dehumanization from votes to economics, skin color to souls – we are practicing the same dark and demonic theology that undergirds GRT.

By Gena Rucco Thomas

[1] The Immigration Forum, “The Great Replacement Theory Explained”.

[2] Critical Race Theory, according to Legal Defense Fund is “an academic and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is part of American society — from education and housing to employment and healthcare.”

[3] See Legal Defense Fund.

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