5 Reasons Race Still Matters in Religion

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head of christ

Race Matters in Christianity

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her Dec. 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men. “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

In response to Kelly’s statement, antiracist scholar Tim Wise wrote in his 2013 article, Dreaming of a White Jesus (and a Real Santa): Reflections on Conservative Derangement, that the TV host’s words should not be a surprise being that most of us have been inundated by an image of a white Jesus. He cited the fact that painter Warner E. Sallman’s most famous work, Head of Christ, has been reproduced more than 500 million times.  

In his book, The Black Clergy’s Misguided Worship Leadership, writer and lecturer Christopher Bell Jr., who has a doctorate in education, argues that “‘Jesus worship’ is equivalent to ‘white male worship’ and is detrimental to the mental and emotional health of black people.” He asserts:

“The Jesus worshipping (white male worshipping) culture of the black community subliminally afflicts many black people with a deleterious white superiority syndrome that leads to low self-esteem, self-hate, psychological dissonance, and emotional and spiritual depression resulting in aberrant and self-injuring behavior or self-limiting beliefs such as low academic achievement motivation among black adolescents, mutual alienation between black men and women, increased feelings of hate toward whites and other blacks, and increased stress and other health related problems in black males.”

Bell adds that “the Jesus worshipping”  also “reinforces the oppressive racist notion of white male superiority in the same ways as white racial discrimination and racial aggression.”

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