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.”