At the first Congress on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, held in Washington in May, the Reverend Earl W. Jackson, the black director of the mostly white “Samaritan Project” of the Christian Coalition, told 500 mostly black Christians that, despite many blacks’ warnings that he was selling out to the “religious right,” “our agenda” is “the work of God Almighty, as best we can understand.” A white Christian might wonder if this agenda is not that of the Almighty but of the multicultural, anti-American, anti-white left, for it turns out that the gathering was yet another exercise in white self-hatred masquerading as Christian charity, with Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition, using the forum to “reach out” to blacks and seek their approval.

The Samaritan Project, according to a report in the Washington Times, was launched earlier this year and is funded by the Christian Coalition’s “donor base.” The Reverend Jackson’s group received a grant of some $850,000 from the project to “rebuild burned churches.” Never mind that the whole “church burning” episode (supposedly the work of a “racist” conspiracy) turned out to be a hoax, that many white churches had also been burned, and that law enforcement officials had confirmed that church arson is quite common. As so often happens in such cases, the story took on a life of its own in defiance of truth and common sense. Mr. Reed was on hand to do penance for the white race (“We come not in self-righteousness, but in repentance”) and to extend a helping hand to blacks, long “ignored” by the Republican Party.

Mr. Reed, it appears, also came to perform a common ritual for conservatives, that of seeking the dominant left’s approval by confirming its agenda. After reiterating the myth about the racist burning of black churches, he then endorsed the left’s entire anti-white agenda, agreeing that “racial injustices” were common in bank loans (blacks have a right to loans no matter what their credit record may be), in real estate (the government should force whites to rent or sell to someone based on their race), in inner-city funding (the government should pour billions of additional tax dollars into welfare programs), and in prison sentences for blacks (black criminals are “overrepresented” in prisons). Mr. Reed even expressed dismay over the number of whites who did not feel they owed blacks an apology.

It is odd enough that a Christian, apart from the principle of Original Sin, should endorse the notion of collective guilt, and odder still that Mr. Reed apparently believes he can seek collective absolution for the white race. But the oddest of Mr. Reed’s oddball ideas is that conservatives can win the “black vote” at all. Why, the befuddled leaders of the predominantly white, middle- and working-class “religious right” wonder, wouldn’t their agenda appeal to a great number of blacks? The answer lies in a fundamental need that the Christian Coalition’s leaders deny, the human need for group identity that defines the individual and his kin and sets the boundaries of his primary loyalties—something that, until very recently. Christians saw as normal and necessary. The fact is that most blacks will never be able to buy into a conservative, constitutionalist program precisely because such a program would involve betraying their kith and kin by stripping the federal government of the very (unconstitutional) powers that ended racial discrimination. Moreover, in the minds of many blacks, a reversal of the civil rights acts and the rollback of the powers of the federal courts would leave them undefended from renewed racial discrimination, no matter how many times well-meaning whites assure them that conservatives have no such plans.

For other blacks, the end of affirmative action means the loss of something that they appear to enjoy: the sweet but poisonous taste of revenge. Black nationalists are correct insofar as they recognize themselves as a separate people with interests divergent from those of whites. They are African-Americans or black Americans, after all, never just plain Americans. Radicals go further, however, enjoying the indulgence of white self-hatred that forums like that of the Christian Coalition offer. The Reverend Melvin Tuggle II of Baltimore, for instance, told “white Christianity” to “put your money where your mouth is,” that is, to pay up and like it, even as the Samaritan Project, funded by mostly white Christian Coalition donors, forked over a better part of a million dollars to rebuild black churches.

By now, it should be clear that the actions of Mr. Reed and his followers are part of a cult with well-rehearsed rituals. A common method of editorializing in conservative newspapers and journals, for example, is the “some of my best friends are black” argument. In this ritual, the white editorialist notes that he played with black kids as a child, or treated a black maid like a member of the family, before attacking a race-based program favored by the left. Another is the “look who said it” approach, where a black libertarian is quoted damning affirmative action, or an Hispanic is cited endorsing immigration reform; as the reasoning goes, if a black or Hispanic says it, then it must be all right. But the most common ritual is the worship of Martin Luther King, Jr. The thrust of these exercises is the tacit acknowledgment of the left’s favorite theme: that there is something sinister about those who oppose race-based quotas or favor immigration reform. Hitler, it turns out, was a Republican.

White self-hatred buys nothing but contempt from blacks and prevents conservatives from mounting a serious campaign to restore a constitutional republic. Until they realize this and face the truth about the implications of what they preach, those on the political right will remain impotent, and the society they desire for their children will become just another lost cause for conservatives to mourn.