Crazy Faith Ministries
It would seem that with so many people – Black, White and Brown – claiming to be Christian and to follow the teaching of Jesus the Christ, there would be no racism. The power of Christianity rests in its belief in agape love, and we are all commanded follow what is known as “the Great Commandment” and “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
But unless we all hate ourselves, making it biblical to hate others, something is terribly wrong, for while so many of us of different hues claim to be Christian, what we do and how we do it is decidedly in violation of what we are supposed to do.
In spite of the Bible’s lofty and powerful words, and in spite of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the precept that “all men are created equal,” we have failed and are failing to beat racism.
In an article, which appeared in The Washington Post, Yale University social psychologist Jennifer Richeson said, “unless parents specifically teach their children not to be racist, they will be.” She said, “racism is in the air around us.”
It is safe to say that we all carry implicit biases; such biases are present not only in the area of race but in sex, age, and even the perception of beauty.
But many of those who study the Bible and who tout the central theme of Christianity are some of the most rabid racists. They have, over the years, been more interested in preserving the white supremacist way of life, and have been unable to accept that their actions – spoken and behavioral – are puzzling and seem contradictory to the way the God of the Christian Bible tells us to live.
Theologian James Cone wrote in his book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, acknowledges the difficulty, which religious Black people have in reconciling racism in the presence of a so-called loving and good God. He said, “white supremacy tears faith to pieces and turns the heart away from God. The more I believed n God, the harder it became to sustain any faith.”
Scientists believe that the cause of persisting and stubborn racism is because humans have a natural “us vs them” mentality that is a part of our biological make up. The only way to change bias – which scientists state is in our blood – is to change culture.
There are a lot of troubling realities, which are hard to understand when studying the history of White violence against Black people. Violent racists have carried out their acts of hatred with no fear of retribution or punishment from God. Violent racists have had no problem with lynching innocent Blacks, for example, on a Saturday night and heading to their church on a Sunday morning. They have been taught that God is against the seeking of justice for all people; some were taught in the 60s, for example, that working with Blacks and Liberals for the civil rights of Black people was against the will of God. To work for civil rights – many were taught – meant that one could put one’s salvation at risk.
The recent attention given to Recy Taylor, the Black woman who was raped by six White men who never went to prison for what they did has caused interest into how Black women have been violated by White men over time. These men were considered to be “good, Christian people.” And yet, their actions were vile and vicious, and did not raise a bevy of White Christians to stand up and demand they pay for their crime.
It is a fact that racial prejudice is not only a part of American life but is part of a worldwide hatred and distain of people of color. God is present; oppressed and oppressor say they worship that God, but the fact is, the biological dispensation to be racist has caused cultural Christianity to have a larger voice in the sphere of racism than biblical Christianity.
In spite of what appears to any person of color what to us are clearly racist policies, those in the White House and in Washington, DC would object vehemently – and do, in fact object – to being called racist. It is profoundly frustrating primarily we believe that because of God, such racism should not be tolerated.
The fact that the god of the oppressor remains silent causes the faith of some, like Cone said, to be torn to pieces. Instead of acquiescing to feelings of despair, however, perhaps it is time for there to be more concerted effort to meld Christian doctrine with historical reality in order to bring to light the contradiction between claiming to love God while at the same time, hating so many that God created.
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is a preacher, writer and teacher who conducts workshops on the inability of the Bible and US Constitution to end racism. For information, reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.