5 Feb 2020
Preacher’s Comments About Meghan Markle Reinforce Link Between Racism and Christianity
About 30 years ago, I remember listening to a BBC Radio show called “Journey Round My People,” featuring Jamaican writer Ferdinand Dennis’ travels around Britain. During a visit to a church, he said he looked at the statue of a white Jesus and said he had a problem bowing to it. His point was that it represented white supremacy.
At the time, I thought that point of view was militant, but several decades later I find myself agreeing with Dennis. I’m agnostic, and I tend to take a dim view of all religions. One of the many issues I have with Western Christianity is that it has white supremacy baked into it. Jesus Christ wasn’t white. He was a Jew who lived in the Middle East and hid in North Africa. But go to the majority of churches in black communities in America, Africa and the Caribbean and you’ll see images of a European-looking Jesus.
Some Christians will brush this off, and say it’s not important what color Jesus was, but it is. Apart from being glaringly inaccurate, it’s also a powerful tool for reinforcing white supremacy in the minds of non-white people. This was used by colonialists in Africa and Latin America. Natives have to obey me, the Western colonialist, because I look like God.
Tim Wise, author and anti-racism educator, supported this view in a column criticizing FOX News’ Megyn Kelly when she insisted that both Jesus and Santa Claus were both white.
“To make the savior of the universe (at least in Christian eyes) a white man is to make possible, literally, the enslavement of brown and black people, the evisceration of still others and the conquest of their land in the name of white superiority. These historic crimes are almost unthinkable in a society where truth and historical accuracy were valued more than white skin,” said Wise.
“Race and religion even effects modern-day politics. Eighty percent of white Evangelicals still support President Donald Trump, the most explicitly racist president in modern history. Trump also had several neo-Nazis in his administration and established concentration camps that locked up mainly brown people”.
America has struggled with the intertwining of Christianity and white supremacy throughout its history. The Ku Klux Klan, a longstanding white supremacist terrorist group, uses Christian images in its rituals. In the early days of the klan, the group recruited ministers and even held meetings in churches. The American Baptist church had a split in 1845 that lasts until today over the issue of slavery. This lead to the creation of the National Baptist Church (black) and the Southern Baptist Church (white.) A few years ago, a group of black Baptist ministers threatened to leave the Southern Baptist Convention because the group failed to condemn racism.
The modern-day Religious Right movement also sprang from the same roots. Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, was originally a segregationist. He started battling the government because he didn’t want his children to go to school with black children. Even today, many Southern states run de-facto segregated schools systems where the poor kids go to mainly black and brown public schools. And the white kids go to private “Christian academies,” which are predominantly white.
Race and religion even effects modern-day politics. Eighty percent of white Evangelicals still support President Donald Trump, the most explicitly racist president in modern history. Trump also had several neo-Nazis in his administration and established concentration camps that locked up mainly brown people.
“Coach” Dave Daubenmire, a lunatic fundamentalist preacher, also showed the link between Christianity and racism when he launched a shocking attack on Meghan Markle, wife of British Prince Harry. Daubenmire implied that Markle had polluted the royal family because she was black (technically she’s only half black.)
“The royal family is the seat of Christianity,” said Daubenmire on “The Salt Live.” “We cannot deny the impact the royal family has had on the WASP-y culture; the white Anglo Saxon Protestant culture is a result of what has happened within the crown. And the crown has now, for the first time, been infiltrated with a bloodline … oh my goodness that sounds racist, doesn’t it?”
However, many black Christians are horrified by Trump’s actions and white Evangelicals who still support him.
Rev. William Barber, a progressive North Carolina minister, has called white evangelicals “heretics” for their support of Trump.
In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, he accused white Evangelicals of practising “slave master’s religion.”
“Slavemaster religion had a strange morality that somehow you could worship on Sunday and still have slaves on Monday,” he said. “But as we would say today, those preachers were not practicing religion. They were practicing racism under the cover of religion. We still see some of that today.”
Barber’s views are shared by 74 black church leaders who recently penned a letter in support of Christianity Today editor Mark Galli’s criticism of Trump. The group of black church leaders also condemned white evangelicals who continue to support Trump.
“I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it,” said the group in an open letter.
I’m not a Christian anymore, but I used to go to church and I did excel in Christian education, which is required in Nigerian schools. I’ve read and studied the Bible, and Jesus never advocated racial segregation or one race lording it over other races. However, Christian nationalists, such as Daubenmire, are twisting religion to support a social and political agenda. Unfortunately, this has been going on for a long time.
Written by: Manny Otiko
Photo Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images