Moral Surrender, Divisiveness and David French

The New York Times columnist David French is upset over being canceled from participating in a denominational conference – despite having personally cancelled himself from the denomination years ago.

It was announced last month that at its annual General Assembly meeting that begins this week, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) would be hosting a timely and practical session in the ramp up to the 2024 presidential election.

Entitled, “How to Be Supportive of Your Pastor and Church Leaders in a Polarized Political Year,” the discussion was to include French, a former National Review writer who has devoted considerable time during the last few years to criticizing and questioning the motives of evangelical Christians on a wide range of issues.

What made French’s participation especially curious was that he and his family had a public and controversial parting with the PCA several years ago. Jennifer Graham wrote in the Deseret News that Nancy French, David’s wife, told her their youngest daughter, who they adopted from Ethiopia, “was tired of being accosted at the communion table by hostile people.”

Writing in Sunday’s New York Times, David French offers additional details concerning their high profile exit from the denomination:

One church member asked my wife why we couldn’t adopt from Norway rather than Ethiopia. A teacher at the school asked my son if we had purchased his sister for a “loaf of bread.” We later learned that there were coaches and teachers who used racial slurs to describe the few Black students at the school. There were terrible incidents of peer racism, including a student telling my daughter that slavery was good for Black people because it taught them how to live in America. Another told her that she couldn’t come to our house to play because “my dad said Black people are dangerous.”

As an adoptive father of mixed-race children, we’ve encountered comments or questions from people which might be described as inartful or insensitive. Yet we’ve also chosen to assume the best of intentions of those making the comments or asking the question. People don’t know what they don’t know, and there’s a lot about adoption that remains shrouded in mystery, confusion and innocent ignorance.

In his Sunday column, French says he doesn’t want to paint “with too broad a brush” about a denomination his wife has said is full of “neo confederates” – but then proceeds to lament the racism he says the family has encountered in the denomination, making clear he doesn’t believe it’s isolated.

Within days of the announcement touting French’s participation, the PCA reversed course and cancelled the one session of the General Assembly session altogether.

“The concerns that have been raised about the seminar and its topic have been so significant that it seems wisest for the peace and unity of the church not to proceed in this way,” stated the PCA Administrative Committee. “Instead, the seminar time will be allocated to a prayer convocation that humbly petitions our God for the good of his church in a polarized political year, utilizing the means of grace provided by our Lord for his people.”

PCA Clerk Bryan Chapell was reportedly unaware of all the controversy surrounding David French, including his strong criticism of people who vote for former President Trump, his defense of “drag-queen story hour” and his support of same-sex marriage. French has also called laws that investigate parents who go along with the surgical mutilation of sexually confused children as being “illiberal extreme.”

David French’s evolving progressivism and willingness to criticize evangelical Christians on the pages of the leading radical liberal newspaper in America has given him global exposure and even accolades from people who despise Christianity and consider it dangerous.

One gets the distinct impression former conservatives like French are bailing in search of praise and acceptance from the elites, many of whom will never be satisfied short of complete moral capitulation.

The New York Times columnist expresses deep bitterness in his Sunday essay, claiming his family was first “bullied” out of the church and then “sacrificed on the altar of peace and unity” last month and that he’s now “blocked” from sharing his experience.

What’s especially curious about claims of being “blocked” is that this week’s General Assembly will likely draw between 3,000 and 4,000 attendees to Richmond, Virginia – whereas The New York Times, which regularly rejects opinion pieces from evangelical Christian writers, and beats up on Christian conservatives, claims a Sunday circulation of 677,000.

Who is bullying and blocking who?

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