I remember the first time I realized that the god of the majority of American Christianity was basically racist. Someone dear to me was trying to make a case for Christian Zionism and, as I stood in a dim-lit hallway listening intensely, I felt this sort of “what the fuck, are you actually being serious right now?” type of confusion.
With no hesitation and I’m sure no chill, I responded with a couple of blunt, but serious questions: “Are you telling me that God cares for one group of people more than others based on their bloodline? Well how pure does one’s blood have to be at this point to be part of this group of chosen ones? Wow, so what you’re telling me is that God is prejudiced based on factors completely out of our control?”
By the end of the conversation and after my fiery disposition had wound down, I had come to a new conclusion, which I calmly expressed, “If the Christian god is essentially racist, then I have no interest in your god.” It wasn’t a declaration of atheism, but a declaration against the idea that God could be a bigot.
At the time, I was deeply lacking in my understanding of the way of Jesus. For all I knew, he was a raging bigot. Eventually, I had a major paradigm shift as I discovered that the Jesus of the red letters was vastly different than what I saw in American Christianity. This Jesus wasn’t a religion, this Jesus is love. They were wrong, as was I.
With our lovely regime change last November, it’s hard to deny the vibrant threads of prejudice strung throughout American Christianity. These days, they are loudly pervasive, like hot pink strands woven into white cloth. Strands that, if you look, you will find have been deeply intertwined in the culture of America since the founding of our self-proclaimed “Christian” nation.
I taught American history for a while and it often felt as if we were looking at a constant flow of outrageous bigotry by the hands of white American Christians. They held themselves as superior in their entitled sense of manifest destiny, the deep belief that white Christians were sent by God to convert and civilize the “savage” world of the “other.” From the mass genocide of Native Americans, to slavery, to constant restrictions of various groups of immigrants, to turning our backs on the Jewish people fleeing genocide, to turning our backs on the Syrian people fleeing genocide – this Christian nation holds the clear belief that race, nationality, religion, and far more determine how people deserve to be treated – their worthiness of our love. It shouldn’t be surprising that our level of empathy and concern tends to decrease drastically as skin tone darkens.
When a white Christian is killed, we demand justice and are boldly outspoken in our outrage. But what about when a black Christian is killed? What about when a Muslim is killed? Nothing. Silence or even worse – gross rationalizations that attempt to convert the victim into the villain.
Recently, there was drama over some rather disturbing photos of Kathy Griffin. When it all went down, I found it interesting that a stream of outraged Christians flooded the Internet with complaints about the injustice that had occurred. But why is this incident more outrageous than the hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of dead Syrian children – you know the ones – that these same outraged Christians refuse refuge to?
What about the video after video we see of flagrant police brutality and murder of our black neighbors? In those cases, we see white Christians actually defending the murder while crying their “all lives matter” crap in complete ignorance of their own racist mentality.
What about the constant flow of outspoken verbal and financial support of an oppressive nation that imprisons, tortures, and murders children? Oh wait, I forgot, they are chosen by the god of American Christians, so their inhumane acts are not only condoned, but also financed.
Let’s be real American Christians, where is your savior in all of this? Jesus didn’t say “love those who love you” or “greet only your brothers, those who look, speak, and believe as you do” – yet this is what we see blatantly and repeatedly in American Christianity.
Jesus’ great command was to love our neighbor as ourselves. To prevent the self-serving assumption that this simply meant loving our own people – those we like and understand – he directly specified that our neighbor includes our enemy. We are to love our enemy as much as we love ourselves – so a lot. This command, along with the command to love God, are the greatest. His words, not mine. The GREATEST. How the hell was that missed?
Seriously, it sucks that the damage being done globally is not even realized, that hearts are hard and eyes are closed. It sucks to repeatedly watch the name of Jesus – whose entire teachings revolved around sacrificial love – be used to deliberately hurt others in an attempt to meet a delusion of self-preservation. It sucks how miserable it must be to be a whitewashed tomb, missing the entire point of Jesus, missing love.
Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not a theologian. I don’t have all of the answers. However and thankfully, regardless if I’m dead wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would still want to live a life trying to follow the red letters. If the god who American Christianity claims is as racist as many of his followers are, then I have no interested in following that god. You see, the thing is, I’m okay with being wrong, but I’m not okay with living a life being egocentrically unloving.
Photo via Unsplash.
About Sheri Faye Rosendahl
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a writer, lover of bold love, the Middle East, Yoga and cookies. You can find more of her writing at NotYourWhiteJesus.org or find her on Facebook. Sheri and her husband, Rich, also run a non-profit called The Nations, doing peace and humanitarian work with refugee neighbors from the Middles East, both domestically and abroad.