Precious Puritan Propaganda

Christian Rap Artist/Spoken word poet Propaganda made waves years ago when he released a song titled “Precious Puritans”. I actually saw him open up for Andy Mineo a few years ago. I want to dissect this song lyrically. Propaganda is a very talented guy, so it would be easy to just nod your head along to the song and accept what he is saying at face value. I remember when I first listened to this track, I was out in Florida, walking around, enjoying the scenery.

This was when I realized what Propaganda was saying. Some of his statements gave me goosebumps, others left me scratching my head. Without further ado, let’s talks about the lyrics.

Propaganda opens up talking about this issue as a “in-house issue”. This is a good sign, to some this may be unfamiliar terminology. What a Christian means when they say this is that both sides are Christians, rather than questioning the salvation of someone over whatever the issue is.

“Pastor, it’s hard for me when you quote puritans.” 

He will get into later what it is so hard for him and what we will find is that his reasoning is unfounded historically. However, it is important that we pay attention to why he feels the way he does. Being historically inaccurate doesn’t mean his feelings are invalid, but misplaced.

“You know they were chaplains on slave ships?” 

Actually, no they weren’t. This is where I was thinking “Well, he picked the right name for his career.” He’s thinking of the New England Puritans, only one of which is quoted popularly today. That man is Jonathan Edwards, who was not a chaplain on a slave ship. (He did own slaves and I’ve covered that here. Also there is historical debate on whether Edwards can even be considered a Puritan historically) These aren’t the wide selection of Puritans quoted and read today.

“Would you quote Columbus to the Cherokees?”

There are a lot of factors and assumptions going on in this statement. I do not deny the ramifications of historical actions, however, I do think it is a false equivalency to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has the same skin color as you or even who are related to you. I’m related to John Ross, a cherokee chief who helped the Cherokee people during the trail of tears. I’m not against learning about or even quoting Christopher Columbus, because despite his evil deeds, he is an important historical figure.

Just because someone is evil, doesn’t mean we erase them from history. I’m sick of this censorship mentality. I’m not saying Propaganda is taking it that far, but I see it as a logical outcome to this tiptoeing around historical figures. Sometimes Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, etc al. need to be quoted to people.

He mentions blind privilege, I can only assume he is referring to a sociological structure that is not founded on biblical standards, along with being philosophically bankrupt. To quote Dr. Jordan Peterson:

 The idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible. And it’s not because white people aren’t privileged. We have all sorts of privileges, and most people have privileges of all sorts, and you should be grateful for your privileges and work to deserve them. But the idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime, regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group – there is absolutely nothing that’s more racist than that. It’s absolutely abhorrent. If you really want to know more about that sort of thing, you should read about the Kulaks in the Soviet Union in the 1920’s. They were farmers who were very productive. They were the most productive element of the agricultural strata in Russia. And they were virtually all killed, raped, and robbed by the collectivists who insisted that because they showed signs of wealth, they were criminals and robbers. One of the consequences of the prosecution of the Kulaks was the death of six million Ukrainians from a famine in the 1930’s. The idea of collectively held guilt at the level of the individual as a legal or philosophical principle is dangerous. It’s precisely this sort of danger that people who are really looking for trouble would push. Just a cursory glance at 20th century history should teach anyone who wants to know exactly how unacceptable that is.”

Propaganda then goes on an emotional tirade in which he asserts the Puritans had a multiple-image view, in which whites were superior, in some sort of Hamite theory of origins, maybe? It’s not entirely clear what he is referring too. I’d like to see a source on Puritans teaching that other races were not made in the image of God, or made in some sort of lesser image.

“It must be nice to not have to consider race.” 

It really is nice and something that those who have bought into the progressive view of social justice seem incapable of doing.

He then asserts something astonishing to me. He mentions and implies that the Valley of Vision written by the Puritans, was Holy Spirit inspired. He then asks, why did this not lead to a rebellion against the slave trade? Well, it did. I will give you an example that I’m very familiar with. Jonathan Edwards pushed for African-Americans and Native Americans to be considered full members of the church and to be allowed baptism, when at such a time it was not a popular thing to do. Edwards’ son wrote a treatise against slavery and cited his father was the inspiration.

Much like the Salem witch Trials, some Puritans participated but they also helped end it. This broad brush Propaganda paints the Puritans is not honest.

His emotional rhetoric takes a turn, where I guess he is using an argumentum ad absurdum, because he says ridiculous things like “the puritans weren’t inerrant” okay, who claimed that? And that God only spoke to “white men with epic beards” I’m pretty a lot of Puritans didn’t even have beards. Especially the most popular ones, like John Owen. I get the point that he thinks people are hero worshipping the Puritans and maybe in some ways and in some cases that is happening. But he is really reaching and trying to prove to much with these statements.

He then spouts some black hebrew israelite rhetoric with “You know those paintings aren’t actually Jesus right? That’s Michelangelo’s boyfriend.” Which is very confusing, because the young stud in question was Tommaso Dei Cavalieri, an italian nobleman. Usually, the comparison to Jesus’ appearance is that it was copied from Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentinois. 

But are you really going to lecture a bunch of Reformed people (who are sticklers on the 2CV rule) about the paintings of white Jesus?

He ends the song by talking about he feels bad when people want to quote him. (sorry for quoting you heavily.)

In the rare moment I’m quoted, I do feel bad. I do think “What if they knew I did X or Y?” Which is why we shouldn’t refuse to quote other people who would probably think the same thing. This is an in-house issue as you said. Every single Puritan was a totally depraved sinner that could only be saved because the imputed righteousness of their Savior was applied to them. The same goes for all of us Christians.

“Why do you quote them?” 

I quote them because what they say is true. I quote them because their holiness gives you a good kick in the teeth. I quote them because they help my spiritual walk. I quote them because they were flawed human beings like the rest of us. The friend who did the beautiful broken-pen writing quoting me said this and I reaches the heart of this issue:

“The Gospel doesn’t condone perpetual victimhood.”
– Kayla

Peer-reviewed Resource

Puritan Conscience and New England Slavery Bernard Rosenthal The New England Quarterly Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 62-81

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