Ridding the world of wealth gaps and conservative religion is “Jubilee holy work,” according to Bishop Yvette Flunder at Glide Memorial Methodist Church’s July 26 sermon. Besides wealth redistribution and banishing conservative Christians’ “thuggish religion,” the United Church of Christ bishop also preached the need for a universal, radically inclusive God and victim affirmation.
In the book of Leviticus, Jubilee was a pause after every 49 years where slaves were freed, crops unsewn, and debts forgiven. But according to Flunder, Jubilee is a pause where society must abolish the systems that are not working.
The first system that needs Jubilee is American wealth. Flunder argued that the wealth disparity between white and black communities shows that American capitalism is “broken at the core.” If something is so inherently broken, Jubilee requires that “we stop trying to make it work.” In the Year of Jubilee, there is no room for reform.
Reform, Flounder maintained, only mobilizes injustice. She argued that 1960s legislation and even the Obama Administration failed to address economic equality. Wealth disparity continues to persist through old housing policies and other racist laws, creating a gap where the average white family earns 10 times more than the average black family.
“The only prosperous black community” Flunder stated, “was destroyed to build a highway.”
Jubilee, Flounder insisted, means reparations and wealth redistribution. Until the gap is filled, there will be economic injustice, so she concluded that “We need to destroy it and build something in its place.”
The bishop suggested that other marginalized communities, such as Native Americans, also need economic reparations. But she did not specify where the reparations stop, closing with the suggestion that “the U.S. is indebted to many communities…and equal wealth Jubilee is holy work.”
Flunder’s sermon took another stunning turn after claiming religion needs a Jubilee from “all things thuggish.” The “thuggish religion” she described constituted of conservative beliefs. Objective truth, a church that denies full participation privileges to LGBTQ individuals, religious freedom laws that deny women their body were among the examples Flunder used to describe a “thuggish” faith.
The bishop’s Jubilee solution for religion is to reimagine a faith that is “radically inclusive.” If humankind can come up with so many words for a sneeze, Flunder argued, then “they can find common teachings of love and healing.” If we ignore the fact that a sneeze is a uniform biological response across the human species whereas “love and healing” is an ineffably complex spiritual process, then Flunder can make sense of ubiquitous inclusivity. This is how we will “rest from all things that are thuggish.”
And if any belief shifts the “blame on the victim” by petitioning personal responsibility, then Jubilee demands silence. Flunder argued that “there are no such things as pre-existing conditions” as they are just “code-names for black and brown communities.” Drug addiction, personal irresponsibility, medical pre-conditions, or other explanations outside of systemic unfairness blames the victim and must therefore be silenced. Therefore, “we need a ‘blame the victim’ Jubilee”
Flunder’s “Jubilee” forces white people to blame themselves and other white people, a consequence promptly demonstrated by the final session in the Glide sermon. Glide congregant Linda Gold, as a “witness of whiteness,” apologized for her privilege during an “anti-racist” conversion after the sermon. Her teary-eyed testimony recounted “coming to the altar” moment after she realized her parents and ex-husband were preventing her from doing the work that she “needed to do as a privileged white woman.” Though she began and ended her testimony with self-blame, other people were the real problem. Gold concluded with the statement, “I am Glide.”
If this is the Jubilee Flunder wants, then we can expect a “rest” of self-blame, disemboweled religion, wealth redistribution, and other Leftist policies. By abolishing conservative policies and religious beliefs every 49 years, Flunder believes that we will finally make peace on earth.