Many Christians still think Africans are descended from Noah’s evil son Ham

Libby Anne has a post titled “Is Creationism Racist?” which I don’t really have anything to add to, except that I think she buries the lede:

I was taught, and Answers in Genesis teaches, that Africans are the descendants of Ham, that Europeans are the descendants of Japheth, and that Asians and Middle Easterners are the descendants of Shem. I’m not surprised, then, to learn that some public school classrooms in Texas are using creationist textbooks that contain the following image:

Libby Anne then quotes the story in Genesis where Ham sees his father Noah naked, and is cursed to be his brothers’ slave for it. She notes how this was used in the obvious way to justify slaver.

I had heard about the Texas textbook thing just recently. Before that, I knew that the thing about  Christians interpreting Ham’s descendants as Africans, but hadn’t realized that that was something any modern Christians, even fundamentalists, embraced. Even then, I wouldn’t have guessed that Ken Ham and other “blame racism on evolution” types would go for this interpretation. I’m speechless.

  • eric

    I think Ken Ham has repudiated the ‘curse of Ham = african’ thing. But obviously that doesn’t stop other fundies from promoting it. With AIG being his organization, I would guess that if the blunt question was put to their leadership today, publically, they’d repudiate it. But its entirely possible that their material sends a different or mixed message – either from organizational incompetence or intentional deception. Its also possible this is a recent change, and material LA read in school – published 5 or 10 years ago or even longer – supported the notion.

    • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

      Eric. That little graphic is from a book that is being used in modern textbooks in Texas. And Ham hardly repudiated anything, he basically said “nuh-uh!” and deflected at evolution as being the real evil.

      • eric

        Eric. That little graphic is from a book that is being used in modern textbooks in Texas.

        According to the TFN report, its a teacher’s made up viewgraph from the Amarillo ISD. See pages 52-53 of that report. So, no, its not from any textbook at all. Unless you have some other info? I admit my info is just coming from the TFN report, not direct, primary review of creationist textbooks.

        For an example of what Ham thinks (now, if not in the past), see this.
        I would agree with you that he’s trying to deflect a lot. He probably wishes the whole issue would just go away, and would prefer the ‘big tent’ approach of never having to say anything that might tick off the more bigoted faction of his followers.
        But I think that when he has been forced to address it, he’s been sincere in trying to decouple the ideas – and so does Libby Anne. She states that in like the first or second paragraph of her post.

        • eric

          Err, for clarity, that’s numbered pages 52-53. If you want to find it in the pdf, it’s actual pages 64-65.

          • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

            Sh… shut up! I did my research! *mumble grumble, durned kids and their Internets, mumble grumble* (Your original statement was correct about it being printed 5-10 years ago, my mistake)

            As for Ken Ham, I know I saw it today somewhere in one of the posts, but consarnit I cannot find the quote anywhere.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Poking around the Answers in Genesis website, it appears to repudiate some racist interpretations of this text, but doesn’t quite reject the Ham’s descendants = Africans thing.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Oh wait – rereading Libby Anne’s post, I see that Ken Ham’s Creation Museum apparently has an info graphic up indicating that Ham’s descendants = Africans.

      • eric

        There’s an important hair that needs splitting here. I think their position is that yes, you can trace the biological roots of African peoples back to Ham’s son, Canaan. They acknowledge a form of (human-only) common descent, even if their historical model of who descended from whom is blatantly wrong. What they reject is the curse of Ham idea, that Africans are somehow inferior or have some extra bonus curse from God. I believe AIG would say: everyone’s a descendent of Adam. We’re all theologically screwed, but also all in the same boat, and skin color or geography doesn’t make a difference.
        Keep in mind I’m just an outsider, so I could have it completely wrong. Or they could be publishing material which deceives us about their views in a blatant attempt to hide their racism, which makes me a sucker for believing it. But I think if you go beyond looking at the pictures and read their articles, and assuming for the moment their articles are sincere, IMO that’s the belief they’re trying to communicate.

  • Bob Jase

    “I knew that the thing about Christians interpreting Ham’s descendants as Africans, but hadn’t realized that that was something any modern Christians, even fundamentalists, embraced. ”

    Anyone who embraces belief in a giant invisible magic man in the sky can embrace anything.

  • Schaden Freud

    Unbelievable. You learn something new every day with creationism.

  • hf

    Even then, I wouldn’t have guessed that Ken Ham and other “blame racism on evolution” types would go for this interpretation.

    Really? I have family in the South (of the USA, for your overseas readers). I seem to recall a ‘youth group’ where some guy said his grandmother believed this, and the relatively young church representative (preaching YE-Creationism) wouldn’t deny it outright. I’d find it shocking if no follower of Ham believed it. Now the fact that it showed up in his “museum” might be a little surprising, given that Ham himself comes from Australia. (I don’t know the recent-historical climate there.) But I don’t feel that surprised, given his age and skin color and his recent degree “from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.”

  • Bronze Dog

    From my point of view, the denials are a face-saving measure. They’ll reject the slavery implications of the curse of Ham when they see cameras rolling. As soon as they’re behind closed doors, they’ll start gnashing their teeth over the abolition, since displaying the Ham hypothesis tells them it’s a safe environment for racists.

  • MNb

    Like Eric I’m not sure if all creationists are racists, but it’s obvious that lots of racists are creationists. Take a look:

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  • Sonofafrica

    It was not Ham who was cursed, but the son of Ham on behalf of Ham, Canaan was cursed, Ham was never cursed!!


    Rome didn’t seem to care about what color someone was to be a slave. Many Germans became slaves as well. In fact, if your tribe lost a battle the members of that tribe were made slaves or killed, including women and children. Made one fight hard, I would think.

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