Bishop Harry Jackson: Age of tribalism can be overcome through love

We had the pleasure of a sit down with one of the United States senior bishops, Harry Jackson, and talked about American divisiveness and the need for genuine love.

Jackson has been featured in leading American outlets, among them the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Washington Times.

He is a good friend of president Donald Trump, and a frequent guest at The White House; a senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Maryland, educated from Harvard Business School, the founder of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and a co-founder of The Reconciled Church Initiative which seeks to bring racial healing to the church and America.


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Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland: It is such an honor to have you with us, Bishop Harry Jackson. You are a famous and loved person in the United States. You’ve done a lot for this country, educated at Harvard Business School, a famous author. One of your books is “High Impact African American Churches”, which is something that interests us because we do believe that there is genuine spirituality coming from these churches that this country could learn from in a time like this. But first and foremost, you are famous for being one of the strongest social conservative voices in America,  a man who cares about humanity and injustice. 

Bishop Harry Jackson: – My sense of fighting for justice in this generation was born out of my very first years of life. My father was on his way home from a voter registration event and he was stopped by a state trooper in the state of Florida, not far from Florida University. The state trooper made him kneel and took out his weapon and put it right next to his ear and pulled the trigger, temporarily deafening my dad. Then he said, using the “N-word”: “If you do anything like that again, next time I’ll kill you!”

So, my dad got up from his knees. I imagine him starting to walk away, and the walk turns into a run and then a jog. By the time he came home, he told this story many times to us. He decided that he was going to leave the South as soon as he graduated. He had been a World War II veteran. He had been in the Navy. My uncle was one of the first African American officers in the Army and was involved in liberating one of the German SS prison camps after the war. So, there was this sense that there was a deep injustice in the country. This was the beginning of me become something of an activist, as my dad told these stories.

Well, I soon realised that if you weren’t white in the American social grid, you had to have a kind of bench, a team you were with. So, I believe that my Biblical way put me in the conservative side of the camp, politically, back in those days and the early 2000s in America.

On the other hand, we do find that black conservatives and white conservatives have two different world views, meaning that they look through different lenses at the world. The Bible talk about righteousness and justice and blacks often look through the justice lenses because we have been discriminated against in America.

Then, very often, white evangelicals often look through the righteousness lens. But, the Bible doesn’t teach righteousness and justice separately, they are to be intertwined, together and one unit. In other words, by standing with God and obeying the rules of God, if you will, and creating an atmosphere of justice for the less fortunate and those who can’t cry out for themselves, God is glorified when the down and out and the up and out are both represented at the table of the brotherhood.

Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland: –  That’s so true. Many years ago, I began travelling in Texas and was soon surprised at the degree of shallowness in the so-called “white churches”, frankly. It made me begin to study the black churches that I do find to be quite different. And, the culture today is engulfed in so much hatred, white against black, man against woman, the war at home, the breakdown of the family. The USA used to be such a melting part of cultures and hope. Everybody could come here and have a future regardless of race. Yet, today we see such a degree of race focus and ethnicity. Why is that?

Bishop Harry Jackson: – Well, I am going to say something that is really going to be challenging for those who don’t know the Bible. Jesus said in the last days that nations would revolt against nations; and the underlying Greek word for this is ethnos.

I would report to you that the division that you are seeing now has been here in America for 400 years. When the first black people were dragged to this continent in chains and subjugated to slavery, not allowed to get educated, not allowed to convene to a church service when they got here.

Many of our Roman Catholic and also Protestant churches followed the doctrine of discovery, that said if you come to a heathen land, it was okay to enslave, torture and exploit them. So, America was rediscovered when people were already living here and those who had the “we are the chosen race”-mentality came and took over. Jesus prophesized about this. He said that ethnic groups were going to rise up in a carnal and perhaps even demonic inspired sense of superiority.

America has always had racism fueled by fear and pride beneath the surface. There was a time when a man with my skin color looking at a beautiful woman, would only have to raise my voice and say “you’re cute” and I would me tortured and lynched on the spot. That is the America that existed in the 30’s, 40’s and the 50’s.

I believe we are in a time in which God himself is exposing America and saying this is where we really are. Before your viewers get angry at me, I want to say that racism is not only a white man’s problem. We have some horrible black racists who are talking about taking up arms. Many people who have been in this nation feel like their only hope is to take up arms and retaliate. Like the man in Dallas, who took up arms and started killing policemen. That was a manifestation of race masked by somewhat religious convictions. But, in my opinion, it was inspired by darkness and demonic energy.

Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland:Is it also a class issue? I have a good friend and he has pointed that out that these things can really be described as class issues. As a European, I would look to London or England and in England you have the same kind of higher classes and the lower classes with drugs, broken families, poverty etc. But in England, both groups are white. If you go the east, to China, you see the same, both peasants, servants and the high class are Chinese. Though, in America it happens to be different, due to this country’s particular history with Africa. Would you agree?

Bishop Harry Jackson: – I think it is a deeper analysis. In America, where we have been working at the narrative of what equality and freedom look like, it may be true that class distinctives are a part of the issue.

I see the traces of tribalism as a valid explanatory model to understand the United States. I prefer to say it like this, rather than to use the word “racism”. The Bible teaches us that we are one race. But, tribalism in Africa, for example, means that people who look alike, at least to me, still kill each other. Here, I would say tribalism and generational poverty/class is a high drivers that trump the impact of race in the United States.

In other words, if I am raising a family that in four generations has not been able to get out of the ghetto or have any higher education, the chances of poverty are significantly higher, no matter what kind of atonement would be given. I also find that in the United States if you go to schools; – I was blessed to go to an IVY school and then to the great hallowed halls of Harvard; and when even in India they talk about that “this man went to Harvard University” and all the way in Hyderabad, India and beyond in the Bay of Bengal, people have a sense that you’re somehow accepted and honored and lifted up because of that class access that education gives you –  this makes you realize how important education is. So, I think you’re friend has it right.

Imagine the America that has endured generational poverty, lack of education and exposure, you then have a massive class distinction. You’re locked into a world with less opportunity and then on top of it all, you’re black. That describes part of the problem. Or on top of that you’re Hispanic and you don’t speak the language as well and on top of that you’re Asian.

This really has been a nation that I believe has had high ideals that we have not always lived up to, but we have imprisoned them. The doctrine of discovery was an aberrant religious ideology that worked here. The doctrine of apartheid is what fueled the South African racism. The way of thinking was, “I have the right to separate myself from you, because God has made me superior” because of the melanin or the lack of melanin in my skin.

Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland:It is quite peculiar when you look to the radical Jesus, as he was a man of color. We tend to forget that. He came from the Middle East. He was not like the pictures we see of him in my country, where he is depicted with blue eyes and blond hair. I think, everybody wants to identify with something close to them.

Bishop Harry Jackson:I think that his actual skin colour is irrelevant in this regard. What he said stood forward and is the point. Yet, the color issue is one of the topics that European Christians have suffered from, that has made many people of colour hate Christianity and call it a “white man’s religion”. You see, many people looked at the fact that Israel was the chosen people of God and they were all Middle Eastern Semitic looking people. Many Europeans got the idea that they were like the lost tribes of Israel. And that somehow, whiteness was equated to godliness, certainly Hitler believed that the Aryan race were Gods chosen people.

Currently, many people don’t realize this in America. Margot Sanger, who began Planned Parenthood here in the United States was an ideological soulmate of Adolf Hitler and those who came before him. So, she wanted to basically abort black and brown children because it would create an impurity or defilement to the purity of the American races.

Yet, if you did some study of the black Muslims in America, they believed that whites were actually created by an evil genetic scientist who actually took the black people in, tampered with their DNA and out came white people. So, black Muslims, as part of their doctrines and the papers that they give out weekly in America, believed that all whites are evil and so that’s part of the fault in nature and part of tribalism.

So, I do believe it is from this root that there has been a confusion among white evangelicals that foreigners are going to contaminate us. Although I do agree with them on that you should choose who comes into your country legally. If you want to come to my country, but as soon as you get here you try to subjugate every person in this land of religious freedom to follow Islam, then you have nothing to do here and you need to stay out. We believe that religious freedom is actually a Christian value. Unfortunate though, we have a xenophobic bleed-through “hate the foreigner”- fear of the foreigner that will bleed through.

I believe that America will continue to devolve into division and tribalism unless the Christian Church who has the root capacity to change this. We’re the only people that have the ability to rise above the sin of racism, but unfortunately many of our Christian churches have reinforced the racism that occurs and currently exists.

Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland:After all, its written in the Holy Scripture, prophet after prophet, philosopher after philosopher, that God looks to the heart of man, but man looks to outward appearance. We should embrace the diversity that God created, respect for diversity is at the core of conservative values. We should join in on that thought.

Bishop Harry Jackson: – We really should, but I think that’s where our evangelical brethren in American church have failed us today. They failed to create a sense of responsibility to look at the world through God’s eyes. We failed to challenge people to deal with the revolution of the heart that must happen at the heart of Christianity.

The great apostle John says that “we know that we’ve passed from death unto life because we love the brethren”. In John’s days, that meant you had people of Middle Eastern decent, you got people from Roman decent, African descent. So, if you do not have love for the brethren and cultivate that love for the people that don’t look like you, yet, they are part of the same spiritual organism as you, the body of Christ. If we can’t even live out our Christianity at that level, we have a counterfeit Christianity.

So, also the blacks who are in the pulpits, – I heard someone at the Martin Luther King Centre the other day, preaching so hard against president Donald Trump. So, if you hate someone and you’re saying they’re evil, I’m right and you’re demonic. My Bible says that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. So, Satan makes black Christians mad at white Christians. He wants Native American Christians to not trust any other kind of Christians. He wants Hispanics to believe that now this is our day and we’re fighting in line to beat out the black people. He thrives on that confusion and we’re going to have to be countercultural if we’re going to see this nation saved and Christian presence. Living the truth is going to be important.

Founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Herland:On that note I would like to thank you very much, Bishop Harry Jackson, a great leader here in the United States, and a leader for us to listen to also in Europe. Thank you for joining us here at the Herland Rapport.

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