By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
In my most recent book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution and Racism in America, I come to the conclusion that in this country, there is no monotheism. In spite of a broad swath of people claiming to be Christian, I conclude that there are at least two Christ-figures in this country, one that Black people worship, and the other that White people worship.
But as conspiracy theories rage out of control and the voices of White Nationalists become louder and louder, there may in fact be three versions of the Christ of the Bible.
I have found it difficult to stomach racists declaring their love “for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Their Jesus seems to be blind to and uncaring about racism and how racists use his name to sanction their hatred.
But this week, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 rages across the land, killing thousands, some churches are declaring that they will not bow to safety measures suggested or mandated by any government – local, state or federal. Referring to restrictions that have been and may yet be put in place to protect people, this pastor called the precautions “Luciferan,” and said that his church will ignore any efforts to curtail and control the virus. “When the Luciferans tried to shut down churches last year we didn’t bow to them…we will have church every night while there’s a lockdown. Don’t touch the church of the Lord Jesus Christ …,” according to Pathos on FriendlyAtheist.com. (For insight into how the Right is thinking about the government taking measures to protect people, read Hugh Hewitt’s piece here on Hughhewitt.com.)
And oh, I forgot to mention: the pastor/preacher referred to in the above story is going to run for the Senate.
It is flabbergasting. I keep asking myself, “What’s wrong with [these] White folks? How in the world did they get the person of Christ so twisted?” There is nothing in the Bible that supports a Messiah who ignored or supported bigotry of any sort, but these people constantly lift up the name of Jesus as the reason for their bigotry. The strength of Jesus – and what set him apart according to the scriptures – was his willingness to love and embrace everyone, especially and including those who society marginalized and ostracized.
What we see happening is a group of disgruntled White folks whining and claiming themselves to be victims of a system, which has not treated them fairly. It is against the will of their “Lord Jesus Christ.” Their Jesus wants them to overturn the government, to “take over” government on all levels and make everyone “think like them,” as author/filmmaker Steven Beschloss revealed in a retweet on Twitter.
When I tried to share with a very religious friend of mine that there are a lot of people who see and interpret Jesus in a different way, she shut me down. “There is only one Jesus,” she snapped. “You’re talking foolishness.”
But the fact is that people have taken not only the Jesus of the Bible but the Bible itself and shaped them both to adhere to their ideology and sociology and have called it theology. The problem is one of interpretation – and from the moment humans in this country embraced the enslavement and subsequent mistreatment of Black people and any other non-White group, a Jesus and a God foreign to the way I thought everyone was taught in Sunday School emerged and has never been successfully submerged.
The people who are living in and practicing hatred based on racism are convinced that they are in the right.
So, will the real Jesus the Christ please stand up?
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.