Disclaimer: This post was inspired by my reading of several articles which are linked below.
The Irish and Italian are Catholic. The Germans and British are Protestant. The Chinese are Buddhists. Indians are Hindu. Middle Easterners are Muslim.
What? My mom is 100% Italian and 100% Presbyterian. 38% of Muslims are white . 12% of Buddhists are Latino. (All according to statistics by the Pew Research Center: link below). Clearly we can not just explain away religion via ethnicity. It’s easy to push away the responsibility of having to look at evidence for God and for religion with the assertion that people are only adhering to their beliefs because of their geographical location or the color of their skin but that is a fallacious, nonsensical, even racist methodology that must cease. Nabeel Quershi is a Pakistani-American who is now a Christian. Alan Rooney is a red-headed Scot and also a convert to Islam. We must evaluate religions based on their historicity and implications, not on the nationality or ethnicity to which we associate them.
But there’s another objection here. My natural thought process has me asking, “Yes, we can evaluate religions based on the religion itself, but what if some religions were just made for certain peoples? How could a belief system be true that just caters to one group? Or why would other people want to believe in something that goes against them in something as basic as race?” I think this is a valid objection. One I propose an answer to, at least for Christianity. Being an amateur at best in the study of other religions, at attempting to answer this objection from their perspective I would be incompetent at the least. So is Christianity the religion of the white man?
I am tempted here to insert a plethora of unacademic memes in response, but instead let’s actually look at the evidence.
The origins of Christianity were anything but white. The “white” religion (at least in Greece and Rome) was a form of polytheism. Not only was Jesus a Semitic Jew (most likely with light to dark brown skin), but his first followers after his death were mostly Jews as well. It was only after the initial spread of Christianity within Jewish circles (it was originally seen as just another sect of Judaism) that the Gentiles, or non-Jews, began to convert. Paul taught that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Christians, both Jew and Gentile, were persecuted under law for disrupting the polytheistic tradition of Rome until the religion was eventually made legal in AD 312 by Constantine. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded around the same time in Africa. It is only through the conversion of Rome that Christianity became a so-called “white religion”. It is true that, during this time, most adherents were, in fact, white. But this is by no means due to the religion itself, but rather on account of a lack of preaching in other areas aside from Europe.
After the fall of the Roman Empire and with the commencement of the Middle Ages, dangerous roads and a fallen political system made it near impossible to travel across such long distances. Religious affiliation soon became symbolic of political allegiance, and with that step, religion and nation became tightly coiled and barely separable. But this was never the message of the Bible. 1 John 2:2- He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the wholeworld. Revelation 5:9- And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. I can go on, but I’ll leave you with this: Humans like to make categories and file other people into nice, neat labels based on their background. It’s easy, and I find myself trying to do the same thing. But this is a mistake, especially when trying to look at the evidence for a belief system. The fact is that Jesus died not for the Jews, not for the WASPs*, and not for those on the right side of political debates. He died for the world, and it is to the world that I must proclaim this.
I would like to write more posts about Religion and Race if the feedback is decent. Let me know if you have any particular questions or objections about religion, philosophy, or Christianity you would like me to address in the future. *WASP: a somewhat derogatory accronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant