Social media users had a lot to say about a recent study by psychologists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill suggesting that most American Christians think God looks like a young white dude.
Twitter wasn’t buying it, however.
The study, published Monday, surveyed 511 Americans (330 men, 181 women, 26 percent Black, 74 percent white) and had them sort through hundreds of pairs of faces to reveal a new, modern-day image of the Almighty, according to NBC News. Although the likeness of the modern American God appears friendlier and more “approachable” than “…the old and august, white-bearded Caucasian man” typically shown in 16th century illustrations, he is still very much white and male.
“People tend to believe in a God that looks like them,” Professor Kurt Gray, the study’s lead author, told NBC News. “And most of the people who took part were male and white.”
What researchers found most shocking was the fact that most women viewed God as male and than even some Black folks “saw God as white … and with twinkling eyes,” according to Gray.
“I think it’s because for millennia, Christians have been led to think of God as male and white,” he added. “It’s changing a little now, but the church hierarchies are still mostly male and mostly white.
Biblical descriptions of God/Jesus paint a different picture, however, and critics were quick to point to passages describing the Almighty as a brown-skinned, wooley-haired man.
Bible: Hair like wool. Feet the color of clay.
White folks: https://t.co/9Jq10EXrvT
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) June 13, 2018
Live footage of this God when you actually have the audacity to turn up and claim your spot in heaven pic.twitter.com/idz7LTwMab
— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) June 13, 2018
This definitely looks like the kind of god who’d tell me that I got into heaven bc of affirmative action https://t.co/jWkBRUHdlV
— White-adjacent Wilma. (@thewayoftheid) June 12, 2018
In the New Testament, when Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus needed to hide – guess where they went to blend in with the people?
They blended in with Egyptians. https://t.co/ig9pIZGH2C
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 14, 2018
I refuse to have been made by a White God, I shall not obey the dictates of any White God, if God be White in heaven, let me then descend and be Black in hell, let us then rise and drive the universal colonizer from his throne. I recognize the authority of no such creature.
— His Triumphant Blackness: The Negro Subversive (@negrosubversive) June 13, 2018
I have never thought about what God looks like. That they spent time drawing this would indicate they dont read the religious texts they quote.
— Adrienne Spinning Side Kick Gibbs (@AdrienneWrites) June 13, 2018
“But that does not mean that we cannot kill the white God, so that the presence of the black God can become known in the black-white encounter. The white God is an idol created by racists, and we blacks must perform the iconoclastic task of smashing false images.” —James H. Cone https://t.co/Mg87zanVHJ
— call gunna if you want you a birkin (@KiaSpeaks) June 13, 2018
Politics also played a role in participants’ view of God. According to the study, liberals were more likely to see the Almighty as young and loving while conservatives viewed him as old and powerful.
“When believers think about God, they perceive a divine mind who is suited to meet their needs and who looks like them,” researchers concluded. “Even though American Christians express belief in a universal God, their perceptions of his face are not universally similar.”