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MilkyWay's avatar

What does Christianity say about racism?

Asked by MilkyWay (13705points) May 2nd, 2011

I was just wondering if the Bible has anything in it about racism.
Some references or quotes would be good, as well as any other information. Thank you all.

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22 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Racism is a concept that came up over a thousand years after Jesus. So, not so much (but we can always interpolate!). Same for most modern issues like abortion, etc.

ragingloli's avatar

In that particular case, it says what you want it to say.

wenn's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Actually racism existed well over a thousand years ago. It just probably wasn’t known as racism.

Joker94's avatar

I think there was something in there saying to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, and you can interpret that any which way you want.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Read here. Sure racism as a concept is a later concept but racism as a practice was always alive and well and the Bible reflects that..

zenvelo's avatar

Christ’s view of racism may be found in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. Samaritan’s were considered unclean by the Hebrews, but Jesus not only conversed with them, he held them up as an exemplar in a parable.

choreplay's avatar

I think zenvelo has provided the best example.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

But in order to comment on a concept, you have to have a notion of it as a concept.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Nonetheless, even if no one in the Bible specifically says anything about racism, we clearly see it happening.

Facade's avatar

Love everyone is the main command for Christians; racism isn’t love.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir But the question was what the Bible says about racism, not if racism was happening during the time the Bible was being written/happening.

ETpro's avatar

Thank you, @Simone_De_Beauvoir for setting the record straight. Jesus had plenty to say about loving your neighbor, and set those straight who tried to find wiggle room to ignore that instruction by deciding whom they would label as a neighbor. When challenged, he told the story of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were reviled and discriminated against by the Jews of that day. The meaning could not be clearer. Racism is hate. Love is not hate.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I suppose I read that in a broader sense. What we read in the Bible is supposed to represent Christianity, is it not? So if we read about racist acts or acts against racism, then that’s what the point is – or do you not want me to get all literalist on you now but when people are homophobes based on some random line in the bible, that’s okay to use centuries later to support a campaign of hate?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, yes and no – I thought what Jesus said (or supposedly said) was supposed to represent Christianity. We don’t take lines Jesus’ enemies said as what Christianity is for, so some of it is more history and story than a sign of what Jesus believed. But I also read the question as asking specifically about racism – judging someone based on the color of their skin – and not about bigotry of any form, or xenophobia, or discriminating based upon nationality, ethnicity, being “other”, etc. Ok, the literalist/homophobe line – you totally lost me there with that train of thought. I have no idea what you’re referencing there. It seems like you’re saying that I’m against taking the Bible literally in this thread’s case, but for it in terms of Leviticus 18:22 and a campaign against gays, which seems odd since I’m gay and against that homophobic campaign. Help me understand what you meant, please?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Your sexuality has nothing to do with this, whatsoever..since you are not the homophobe I mention, are you?
I have no energy to pick out lines from the Bible now that isn’t about what Jesus’s enemies said only – there are instances where slavery (which it seems you’re saying WASN’T based on race but on prejudice or xenophobia) is supported, prescribed, etc. I don’t think the word racism is in the Bible but neither is the word homosexuality yet people talk about what the Bible ‘says about homosexuality’ even though homosexuality, like racism, is a concept coined later. That’s all I was saying, I have no idea if you read the Bible literally and I do understand your criticism of my reading this question in a different way.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I didn’t think you were accusing me of being a homophobe, I just kept reading the line that way. Which is why I asked for clarification, it seemed so off. But I’m kinda not in my right mind today. I don’t know what the slavery in the Bible was based on, it’s not my area of expertise. However, if it’s like other slavery before… Oh, let’s say 1000 AD, because I’m too tired to find the proper date but that seems like it leaves a lot of leeway, then it’s probably based more on class, nationality, ethnicity, one’s need to sell oneself or a family member into slavery to get out of debt, and who you could conquer than the idea that one race is superior because of skin color. But I don’t know, it’s more that I’m not willing to blindly accept that it definitely was about racism without doing further research.
Ok, so here’s what I meant: Jesus tends to stick to avoid clear statements like “You should definitely not judge someone based solely upon the color of your skin”. He tends to avoid making non-cryptic statements of any kind. So while he is quite the make-love-not-war kinda guy, many of his statements seem to be more a blanket statement against bigotry and discrimination of any kind, not racism in particular. Then when you add in how the Bible tends to openly contradict itself, and pair it with vague, cryptic statements, it becomes much harder to say unequivocally that Jesus said something about racism in any manner.
I also think the Bible doesn’t necessarily condemn homosexuality, it does condemn something in that line, but it’s not even clear that it’s sex with men, much less homosexuality.
FWIW, I don’t really read the Bible in a literal/metaphorical/whatever way – I’m much more concerned with how others read it and how Christianity has evolved.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @ETpro . The Good Samaritan story was the first story I ever remembered that had a huge impression on me. I was in 2nd grade and I understood the story to mean that one should love all of Gods children, even if they are different from you in some way.

Buttonstc's avatar

Way back in 1952, Billy Graham stated unequivocally: “There is no scriptural basis for segregation.”

He subsequently backed up those words with action prior to one of his crusades in the South. To the surprise of many, he personally went down and removed the ropes separating the customary black and white seating.

Shortly afterward he publicly pledged to never hold a segregated crusade.

Obviously this caused him the loss of support from a significant number of Southern churches but he remained true to the truth of scripture which he proclaimed.

There is also a fairly familiar quote usually attributed to Martin Luther King about Sunday morning church service being the most segregated hour in America. But King acknowledged the statement as originating from his friend Billy Graham.

It is of course obvious now that those Southern Christians who attempted to justify their racism from the Bible were way off base, but Graham was way ahead of the curve by simply reading what the scriptures said and did not say and backing his words with actions consistent.

You’re familiar with the phrase “put your money where your mouth is”

I’m sure his unpopular stance back in the fifties must have cost him considerable money and support, but he followed the simple truth as found in the example of Christ.

snowberry's avatar

All people were made in God’s image. Gen 1:26.

Regarding this question, nowhere does the Bible make any reference to the value of one race over the other.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you all for the helpful info :) It really has helped quite a lot.

snowberry's avatar

The judgements that God visited upon different peoples was due to their behavior, not their race.

choreplay's avatar

My impression of what the bible is saying about slavery is more about the circumstance of slavery, not in support of it.

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