Too many fundamentalist Christians seem to believe that if they think the Bible justifies racism, it’s not really racism.
This kind of squishy thinking leads to such situations as a candidate for the Marysville (Michigan) City Council last month saying publicly and unapologetically that her town needed to keep itself “as white as possible” and that God prohibits mixed-race couples. (See Hemant Mehta’s August 23 Friendly Atheist blog post on this topic, here.)
Except for vaguely referencing biblical scripture purportedly to “support” her claims, the Marysville council candidate, Jean Cramer, unsurprisingly offered no tangible substantiation.
She also somehow failed to mention that Jesus Christ himself was a Mediterranean Jew from Palestine, and thus presumably brown-skinned.
But such is bible-based racial bigotry — fact and nuance free.
Candidate Cramer offered her white-supremacist recommendations at an August 22 Marysville candidates forum about the city’s developmental progress, after event moderator Scott Shigley, a local radio station manager, informed those in attendance that during 2000-2015 half of population growth across the Great Lakes region in recent years has been foreign-born.
Then, asked if she believed ethnic diversity in the community was a critical issue and whether the city should be more “aggressive in attracting” immigrants, Cramer said the city should “keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.”
The local Port Huron (Michigan) Times Herald reported that “brief gasps fell over the council meeting room at City Hall” immediately following Cramer’s comment, after which other candidates responded. Council candidate Mike Deising noted sardonically, “Just checking my calendar here and making sure it’s still 2019,” and other candidates in general offered variations on this theme: “Everyone is welcome in Marysville.”
So, there’s hope in the land.
Still, Cramer and many other Americans feel empowered to hold shockingly racist views, where God demands racial purity be maintained and that one race — supposedly the white one — always must dominate.
Meanwhile, evangelicals and conservative Republicans (invariably one and the same) constantly complain that “liberals” are always unfairly accusing them of racism for their definitively racist thinking and behavior.
Consider the authoritative Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition of “racism” and see if it pertains to white supremacist, nativist and nationalist ideology endorsed by the current U.S. Republican administration and rampant across fly-over America:
the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races.
At the Marysville forum, Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Hayman offered a heartfelt take-down of Cramer’s tone-deaf comment.
“I don’t even know that I can talk yet, I’m so upset and shocked. My father was a hundred percent Syrian, and they owned the Lynwood Bar. It was a grocery store at that time. So, basically, what you’ve said is tat my father and his family had no business to be in this community,” she told Cramer, according to the Times Herald. “… My son-in-law is a black man and I have bi-racial children. And I take this very personally what you’ve said, and I know there’s nothing I can say that’s going to change your mind. … We just need more kindness — that’s it.”
To put in perspective Cramer’s startling ignorance, Hayman’s father, Joseph Johns was an elected Marysville official for 55 years — and even the council meeting room where the candidates forum was held is named after him.
Still, demonstrating how biblical cover is viewed as supreme by Christian literalists, Cramer doubled down when a reporter asked her if she wanted to “clarify” her previous comment.
“What Kathy Hayman doesn’t know is that her family is in the wrong,” Cramer said. “[A] husband and wife need to be the same race. Same thing with kids. That’s how it’s been from the beginning of, how can I say, when God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time. But as far as me being against blacks, no I’m not.”
Except if too many of them live in Marysville.
Unfortunately for true believers, the Bible offers scant support for white supremacy and racism. Fundamentalists point to the so-called “mark of Cain,” which they imagine proves that descendants of Cain — imagined to be dark people — are inferiors cursed to always serve whiter people. And they point to a certainly apocryphal story of the biblical Job’s sons and how the dark descendants of one of them (Ham, as in the “Curse of Ham”) became negroes.
Also, considering that most everything in the Bible is vastly fictional, scripture offers “thin” (i.e., noexistent) rational to lord over and discriminate against people along racial lines.
In a 2017 article in Religious News Service online, Christian author Shane Caliborne nicely summarized the problem:
“Some of the most horrifying things in history have happened at the hands of Christians with poisonous theology, divorced from grace. It’s what happened with Hitler and the Holocaust. It was the case with slavery and the lynching of black folks in the United States. It’s the story of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s behind the abortion bombers, and the Inquisition, and the Crusades. And it’s bad theology that is being used to justify white supremacy today. Bad theology is dangerous. Bad theology gets people killed.”
We nonbelievers might go a step further to say that all theology is dangerous, not just certain kinds.
After all, theology always based on what is only imagined, not what provably is — “the study of the nature of God and religious belief,” as it’s defined by the Oxford Dictionary.
How can God have a “nature” to study if he doesn’t demonstrably exist in the natural world?