Mark Charles

Evangelical Left Native American Activist Mark Charles Running for U.S. President

on July 12, 2019

Social media is abuzz this season with a swelling number of participants in the primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But you may have missed a candidate announcement this spring: Evangelical Left Native American activist Mark Charles is running for President.

Longtime readers of this blog may recall Charles as a regular speaker at Christian conferences in which he charges the founders and the documents they authored, including the Declaration of Independence, as “systemically racist.”

My IRD colleagues Chelsen Vicari and Mark Tooley have already covered Charles’ obsession with the Doctrine of Discovery, a 15th century Roman Catholic teaching on the colonization of lands outside of Europe that he asserts uniquely shaped U.S. manifest destiny.

Vicari first encountered Charles in 2013 on the blog of Sojourners, a journal of the Religious Left. Charles went on to speak at Q Ideas in Boston, World Relief’s Justice Conference in Chicago, and even a side event at InterVarsity’s 2015 Urbana Conference. Each time, Charles found larger audiences as Evangelical gatekeepers ushered him before young people to declare the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. Supreme Court as systematically racist and charge “Everything you own is stolen.”

Charles is now taking that message to voters as an independent candidate for U.S. President. An announcement video has garnered approximately 50,000 views since it was published on YouTube in late May.

In the video, Charles, based in Washington, D.C., asserts that the United States has not learned to talk about its history and origins “protecting the interests of white, land owning men.”

The U.S. Constitution is understood to be historically significant for claiming men to be created equal. The founders instituted a system that eventually included non-land owning men, racial minorities, and women. Rather than acknowledge the historical contribution of flawed men, Charles contends that “our Constitution is working” as intended, through oppression of minorities via incarceration and unequal pay for women.

“We were led to believe [the 2016] election was about racism versus anti-racism, equality versus inequality, but it wasn’t,” Charles insists in his campaign announcement. “What we were actually deciding upon as a nation was: do we want Donald Trump to make us explicitly white supremacist, racist and sexist again, or do we want Hillary Clinton to work to keep our white supremacy and racism implicit?”

While Charles appears to be a one-issue candidate, he has occasionally applied his concern about alleged oppressors to other contexts.

In March, Charles made provocative comments critical of Israel before an audience of young divinity students during a lecture series, called Mosaic Gathering, hosted by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Vicari reported that Charles accused the U.S. and Israel of having a “dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship that has almost nothing to do with equality, freedom, or justice,” blasted the narrative of Promised Land as “authority to commit genocide,” and considered calling the Church to “lament its sin of slavery, genocide, mass incarceration, and everything else.”

  1. Comment by Dr. Lee Cary on July 12, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Someone please share the history of the early American Native Indian tribes with Mark. He appear to think it was a inter-tribal utopia.

    As for the US/Israel “’dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship that has almost nothing to do with equality, freedom, or justice,’ blasted the narrative of Promised Land as ‘authority to commit genocide,’ and considered calling the Church to ‘lament its sin of slavery, genocide, mass incarceration, and everything else,’”: Nonsense.

    I’m confused as to why IRD would distribute this man’s hateful dribble. Accusing Israel of “genocide” is a reprehensible and ignorant claim.

    What is hate speech? See Mark.

  2. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on July 12, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Hello Dr. Cary, even a cursory glance at our blog makes apparent that we support a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Just because we cover something like Charles’ campaign announcement does not mean that we endorse it.

  3. Comment by Lee D. Cary on July 14, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Sure. But he’s the most significant person you have to highlight? He’s a candidate for POTUS? Come on.

  4. Comment by Loren Golden on July 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Mr. Charles is “running for president”, not in any genuine hope of winning the office, but to draw attention to himself.  He must know that, as an individual with no governing or legislative experience, who is deeply ashamed of this nation’s history and heritage, and whose schtick is to verbally castigate and shame Americans of European descent for the way in which his ancestors were treated, he has no chance of even being invited to the Democratic Party debates, let alone winning any delegates in any of the primaries.  This is such a non-newsworthy item.

  5. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on July 12, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Charles is not running for the Democratic nomination, so no, I wouldn’t expect him to seek or obtain an invitation to the primary debates. He appears to be running a single-issue campaign in hopes of raising its profile among the well-known candidates. We are probably in agreement that there is some degree of ego involved here, but that’s hardly remarkable in any contender for higher office. I do think this is newsworthy for one reason: squishy Evangelical groups repeatedly invite Charles to speak before audiences of young people (they understandably want to present speakers from diverse backgrounds who have street cred with the “justice community”). As a blog that covers ecumenical stuff, that’s our interest.

  6. Comment by Loren Golden on July 12, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    “Charles is now taking that message to voters as an independent candidate for U.S. President.”
    My apologies, I missed that part.  However, your first line (referencing the Democratic presidential nomination) did give the definite impression (even if it did not explicitly state) that he was filing to run as a Democrat.

  7. Comment by Lee D. Cary on July 14, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    It’s only my worthless opinion, but I think he deserves a seat in the Clown Car that transports the current Dem POTUS candidates around the country.

  8. Comment by Palamas on July 12, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    So, an egomaniacal racist and anti-Semite is running for president. David Duke, is that you?

  9. Comment by Palamas on July 12, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    My apologies. Make that “David Duke’s mirror image.”

  10. Comment by Eli on July 18, 2019 at 6:05 am

    These comments show just what Mark is talking about….you can’t be a good Christian, or a good American and not call out our history of genocide and settler colonialism. The comments above are exactly the kind of make me realize our country is doomed. Any time the brown person opens their mouth you devils scream about how they are antisemitic or un-american, or other such nonsense. You’re no different than your ancestors. Too bad the Mayflower didn’t sink.

  11. Comment by Rob on August 28, 2019 at 9:57 am

    As a white male, and former seminary student and theology instructor, I appreciated what Mark Charles had to say in his videos and in reading his entire website. I especially enjoyed hearing about his own, personal journey and how he spent time with homeless people. He was quite candid about his own fears and prejudices.

    Everybody has an ego, but I have never encountered a candidate for any office who has been so transparent about their person life.

    Regarding the “Just War Theory,” my Christian History professor (in a Protestant seminary) mentioned this theory, but never covered it in depth. It is a subject worth discussing. In addition, we never discussed the fact that the Israelites that descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel and their descendants were not to retake Israel through force, but through repentance. We were, also, not told that most of the people who call themselves Jewish (Ashkenazi Jews) and make claims to the state of Israel, are not descended from the original 12 Tribes.

    All of these issues are foundational for us as human beings and how we have treated each other.

    I would invite all of you who posted judgements about Mark Charles to actually engage in doing some real research and soul searching. But, that is asking a lot, since we are merely kids in a sandbox, trying to protect our toys. ?

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