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tarmar's avatar

Would the Christian right wing in America be as committed to Christ if all the images of him showed him to be as dark skinned as his heritage would warrant?

Asked by tarmar (195points) March 4th, 2010

I’m not a religious person by nature. My wife is a bit more committed and she works with people who are TOTALLY committed, God-fearing, bible-quoting, literal-minded and southern, thru & thru. I’m wondering if they’d be as committed to their Lord if His Son was portrayed as the Arab he was instead of the WASP modern pictures depict him as. Your thoughts?

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62 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Yea, what is with that?

Ya think by now that would be racist.

ragingloli's avatar

Let us just say there is a reason why Jesus is depicted as a white male.

Berserker's avatar

Probably. If he were depicted as a black or Arab man, people would have gotten used to it after all these centuries. I mean, white folks aren’t the only ones that are Christian.

kevbo's avatar

I’m going with yes, because they are probably Zionists as well.

Val123's avatar

Good question! When I was old enough to realize that in all reality Jesus was swarthy and dark skinned, I found the Catholic depictions of him as being white, blond and blue-eyed offensive.

phoenyx's avatar

Jesus wasn’t an Arab or a WASP.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

A true christian will not care. It is not an issue. If he were white, black, arab, asian, or whatever it doesnt change anything. To a true christian he will still be the savior.

Cruiser's avatar

What’s the fuss?? God said we were created in his image so it’s only natural that he has our same skin tone!

CMaz's avatar

I want my baby black, baby black, baby black, Jesus.
Chili’s baby black Jesus,
Chili’s baby black Jesus.

Nailed to the cross.

Mamradpivo's avatar

No. Next question please.

Arisztid's avatar

A true Christian would not care, however, many who call themselves “Christian” would care. No matter how much evidence is presented showing that Jesus was not white, they persist in their belief. I do not know if Jesus was an Arab but I am pretty sure he was not white.

According to Christian Identity , Jesus would have no soul just like all non whites.

thriftymaid's avatar

What a question! Do you know the skin color of the Judean Hebrews?

Mikelbf2000's avatar

What is a skin color anyway? It’s just that, a skin color. Were all human beings.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@phoenyx: Then what was he? He was born in Bethlehem and I was under the impression that it was in Jordan.

I think if all of a sudden all the images of Jesus that were produced depicted him as a man of middle-eastern or arab descent then there would be quite an uproar.

Berserker's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 Yeah. And besides, Jesus is the Son of God, fuck skin colour. He could be blue with pink dots if he wanted.

phoenyx's avatar

@KatawaGrey depends on what you believe about his true nature. I’m gonna go with: an Israelite

Buttonstc's avatar

We know for certain that he was Jewish and this is before they were scattered all over so there wouldn’t be any European aspects to his features as there are today with Ashkenazi Jewish people so he would certainly look quite similar to Arabs.

It’s not modern depictions of him which are problematic. It started way back with the RC church and the artists whom they commissioned. That’s when the blond blue eyed depictions started.

As to whether his true skin color would appeal to right wing Christians, I would say that those true Christians who aren’t hypocrites wouldn’t care.

But I don’t consider those ultra right wing Christian white supremacist groups to be true Christians. He’s just a handy marketing tool for them. Just because they use his name doesn’t mean they follow his commandments.

As for others, unless they speak or show their true feelings about the issue, it’s impossible to look into someone elses heart. Besides, that’s God’s job.

BTW for anyone interested, there is a wonderful portrait done by (Thomas?) Hook in which he is wearing a rough hewn cloth garment and gazing off into the distance with swarthy skin looking exactly like the carpenters son that I personally think is a pretty accurate portrait of what he most likely looked like. It was fairly popular about 20 + years ago.

Just_some_guy's avatar

@Buttonstc the Jews were scattered all over many times before Christ showed up. Actually wasn’t Christ born around the time the Romans occupied Israel? That would give a chance of European blood. I guess I better check my history here. The Romans by this time were very diverse. People all around were part of Rome. If I am wrong with that assumption feel free to bash me. It really isn’t were he came from as in country. It is were he came from as in God. I think that the skin color would make no difference had it been whatever color the Jews at that time were, and stayed that way.

Just_some_guy's avatar

Just to add another thought. If Christ was black would there ever been slavery as people in the US know it?

laureth's avatar

It must be very convenient for some Christians to be able to declare that other Christians aren’t Real Christians. I’ve heard at various times that Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Christians who started the Crusades, Christians who are pro-choice, Christians who kill abortion doctors, Christians who don’t go to church, and now racist Christians aren’t real Christians. It always seems like the only Genuine Certified Christians™ are the ones whose lifestyles and ideology agree with whoever’s speaking at the time.

As a Pagan and then as an Atheist, I don’t have that convenience. No matter what crappy deeds a Pagan or Atheist do, those are held up as examples of that group. I’d really like to be able to say that Stalin wasn’t a real Atheist, but I can’t do that – and I think that Christians can’t really do that either.

Sorry – it’s a little off topic – but racist Christians are still Christians.

Facade's avatar

Jesus probably had dreads. Awesome.

The secretly and not-so-secretly racist ones wouldn’t.

Arisztid's avatar

@KatawaGrey You said: “I think if all of a sudden all the images of Jesus that were produced depicted him as a man of middle-eastern or arab descent then there would be quite an uproar.”

I agree.

Arisztid's avatar

@laureth How are racist Christians still Christians? I admit to not being very knowledgeable about Christianity so I ask: exactly how does racism fit into Christian ideology? From what little I understand about true Christianity, judging and acting out against someone based on race is not a Christian idea. I am not religious but that is the idea I got about Christianity.

In my comment about the Christian Identity movement further up in the thread I did not say anything other than to point them out. I did not say anything about whether or not they are Christian.

Now, however, I am challenging this.

laureth's avatar

From what I understand from talking to Christians, you have to have asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, and believe in Him. The vast majority that have told me this also tell me that this is the only requirement for getting into heaven. I suppose you can ask forgiveness for the racism if it doesn’t fit in the grand plan, but I hear that God forgives if you really mean it.

Buttonstc's avatar


Feel free to correct me on this, but afaik there is no officially sanctioned code of ethics for atheists and no leader whose precepts are to be followed by all.

In Christianity, there is both. There is the Bible and the words of Christ. While there are obviously some parts which are open to interpretation, others are far less ambiguous.

When Jesus said that by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another, that obviously takes out racism as a viable option for those who would follow him.

Racism is not love. The hate that these types of groups spew can most certainly be criticized by Christians as not representative of Christ. With these groups, there is no guesswork required. Their own words and actions are plain to see.

That’s why I didn’t make a sweeping generalization about Southerners or such. There may still be a lot of racist attitudes held there, but Southerners as a group don’t have a cohesive iteration of that. It’s up to individuals.

Racist white power groups definitely have a cohesive stand and someone is not a member of such a group by mere virtue of geography. They have to join and that action pre-supposes agreement with the groups’ hatred of dark skinned people.

That is clearly the opposite of what Jesus lived and taught so I have no problem at all in calling them hypocrites. Their own words confirm it.

davidbetterman's avatar

God is a Black Woman!

Arisztid's avatar

I would be interested in the rationale racist “Christian” organizations use to excuse themselves. I know that they say that non-whites have no souls based on one of the characters in the Bible (I do not know the story).

Positive Christianity is another way it has been corrupted. This is the Nazi version.

I agree with @Buttonstc on the racism is not defined by geographic location. I have the pleasure of my upstairs neighbors being white supremacists (I am not white) and I live in Michigan. Here is proof that the South does not have the patent on racism.

mrrich724's avatar

It doesn’t matter. Here’s the bigger picture:

Jesus ultimately represents God (and scripture says he is God). So people make him look like something they can relate to. At the end of the day, no one knows what God looks like (if anything), so they portray him as an image they can relate to through Jesus. That is why Jesus looks different throughout the world.

filmfann's avatar

Ya, most jews are black, like Sammy Davis Jr., and….um….

phillis's avatar

Certain members of my family had to wrestle with the fact that Jesus was a Jew, once they discovered it. I hardly think their psyches could survive the break, being introduced to the fact that he was blessed with extra melanin.

As for me, I am Christian, but as is usually the case with me, I have found glaring inconsistencies with tradition.

For better or for worse, I really couldn’t give a shit less what color he was. If I were blind it wouldn’t make any damn difference, anyway.

Another thing I can’t ignore are those who swear that there is only one correct interpretation of a religious document or religion. Oh, really? And when did God appear before you to tell you that yours is the correct way? Because the last time I checked, Moses had over 600 freaking commandments and only 10 of them made the headlines. I think that allows sufficient wiggle room to ignore pretty much anything you have to say. Thanks for playing, Manson….you can go home, now.

It confounds me that so many people, from the religious zealots to those who choose the Atheist point of view, fail to understand that religious doctrines, by and large, create the desire within most people to simply become better individuals (we’re not talking about terrorists here, just average folks).

Now, if a person chooses to be snowed by a myriad of inconsistencies (yes, I’ve seen inconsistencies in the Bible), yet those inconsistencies create the desire to be a better person, can you REALLY find all that much fault in it? See the gift, people!

I mean, shit…..when masses of people TRY to do things better, you benefit, too! It’s better than a mass of humanity that DOESN’T try to be better, so we might ought to thank our lucky stars that something is out there that is strong enough to move people toward mercy and forgiveness and general amiability. Let’s not create mountains out of molehills. You can pooh-pooh thier beliefs in private.

So yeah….traditional beliefs in any discipline get on my nerves when they blind us to our faults. We get so steeped in pride and longevity that we lose sight of the fact that we have brains and reason. Skin color is just ONE part of the overall problem, as I see it.

Sarcasm's avatar

@filmfann And Lenny Kravitz.

cockswain's avatar

Well who made him white?

ChaosCross's avatar

Most likely, there are actual Christians who do not care about his skin color, don’t get me wrong, but there is the occasional one who simply would not accept anything else.

filmfann's avatar

Do you think the Christian Right would be more comfortable if the images of Jesus had Him shaved, and His hair cut, with that creepy right wing Christian smile?

Fact is, we worship Him. His words and His deeds, and the fact He is the son of God.
Doesn’t matter what He looked like.

Berserker's avatar

@davidbetterman Yeah. That black woman is also a vampire.

Arisztid's avatar

@Symbeline… and a lesbian.

Berserker's avatar

@Arisztid And probbaly a liberal, on top of all that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’re probably right. But you must know, that in reality, it doesn’t matter what Jesus looked like any more than it matters what you or I look like.

Beware the shiny smile of the glossy politico.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cockswain asked: “Well who made him white?”

The White Man made him White. The White Man tries to make everything White.

In this way, the White Man expresses the true Darkness of his Blackened Heart.

Nullo's avatar

Sure they would. Give people some credit, willya?

@ragingloli The reason why is because of how people do art. All portraits need a model, and guess what your model is going to look like if your artist lives in Western Europe before immigration picked up?
Answer: like a European, since Jews were not fashionable in those days.

It must be very convenient…
Oh, it’s terribly convenient. And now I’m going to confuse the issue some more.
Salvation, as you pointed out elsewhere, is a very simple thing. But being a Christian isn’t just about salvation; there’s a living-for-Christ aspect as well. Depending on who you ask, the latter may or may not affect the former. The quality of a Christian’s walk is determined by the latter criterion. Many people use the term true Christian to refer to someone who has all of his doctrinal ducks in a row, and who lives accordingly.
A racist Christian may be saved, but is most likely not living up to his full potential (as it were).

laureth's avatar

@Nullo – May be saved… but I know that many Christians, racist or not, do not live up to their full potential. (“All have sinned and fallen short…”) – does this mean that no Christians are real Christians?

@Buttonstc – It sounds like you have your own definition of what a Real Christian is, much like those other, unreal Christians have their own definition. That’s what makes it so terribly convenient and confusing.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think most drawings of Jesus depict him as far too light skinned. Consider the weather 2000 years ago in what is now Israel. Jesus was an outdoor person. It’s very likely he featured a very tanned face most of the year. His skin color might actually be quite close to that of Barack Obama. Would this change the commitment of Christians? In general, no, except for a few nutcases.

Val123's avatar

@Buttonstc I think I have that picture you described. I just love it. But, as always, he is portrayed as being very handsome and attractive. I don’t know why that stereotype persists either. It’s not like he was a movie star.

@phillis They had a hard time dealing with the fact that Christ was Jewish??? LOL!!!

Mikelbf2000's avatar

I always tell Christians who prefer God to be a certain race how it is lol. I tell them what if he isnt white or isnt black or asian or whatever. What are they going to do? Abondon their faith because of something so trivial as a skin color?

Nullo's avatar

@laureth Not as real as they could be. :D This is why salvation-by-grace is so vitally important.

Interesting video here documenting the facial reconstruction of an inhabitant of first-century Israel, to get an idea of what Jesus probably looked like.

All that we know from the Bible is that Jesus was not particularly good-looking. Isaiah 53:2b says, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”

phillis's avatar

@Val123 Shit, Val….my grandmother swears she voted only for Biden. That’s what kind of stock I come from.

Nullo's avatar

@phillis Biden? Vice-presidency-is-easy Biden? Why?

Val123's avatar

@phillis LOL!! Change is hard…..!

Ron_C's avatar

My guess is that if Jesus existed, he would be of mixed race. He was the son of god and Mary. My guess is that Mary was tan but have no idea about god’s color.

I would guess that if Jesus was some color other than a shade between black and white it would have been noticed. I doubt that there were many blue or green prophets running around at that time.

As to whether right wing Christians would be as zealous, I think they could get behind a blue Jesus but not an off color one. Remember, most of these right wingers are descendants of the southern Democrats that fought integration. Just because they became Republicans, they didn’t become more tolerant.

The whole “christianity thing” is just the glue that holds these backward looking group together. Conservative means that you don’t want change and you don’t have to think because all of that has been done before by others. All you have to do is learn your lines and follow your leaders.

Val123's avatar

@Ron_C I hardly think that God is any particular color! Further, I hardly think that God is any particular gender as well. And the point of the question is, with the advent of Catholicism Jesus, and his Mom, began being portrayed as being white, like glow in the dark white, with blue eyes no less. Which is ridiculous.

ragingloli's avatar

Of course god has a colour. And the colour is

Ron_C's avatar

@Val123 I was guessing. I don’t buy the virgin birth myth anyway. I guess the kid would be a cross between a deep tan and transparent.

Joybird's avatar

I think Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) is the man!...Not even a god or presumed son of god….and he doesn’t look anything like me….he was a brown boy! But I’m not someone who needs to have my role models look like me. There are those who are very uncomfortable with anything less then homogeneity (sameness). You will never be able to take away these people’s blond blue eyed version of Jesus. They would go into complete denial or form a break away version of Christianity based on their illusion of Jesus being a white dude. And just for the record I’ve been in a fair amount of predominantly Black churches where Jesus was depicted as a black man. I think the truth of what he looked liked in reality is somewhere in the brown boy range.

GracieT's avatar

@Val123, that was my first thought upon seeing Jesus depicted as a white male. I have since decided that, to me, anyway, it really isn’t important. I agree with @Cruiser, in that He is depicted as a person like the people in that area. I don’t think that He is a person like we are people, and skin color and features are not really important.

josie's avatar

Probably not.

gr8teful's avatar

Not all Christians are white so I wonder how they feel about Jesus being portrayed as white? No he would not have been white If he was born in Bethlehem .I have seen images of Jesus looking more Arabic . A genuine Christian would accept Jesus was not white and be completely unbothered and accepting of it.

Ron_C's avatar

I notice that besides being white, many of the paintings of Jesus make him look a bit gay. Look at the young John leaning on Jesus’ shoulder during the last supper painting. Suggesting that Jesus was bi or gay would light a big fire under the fundamentalists butts.

cockswain's avatar

Gay Jesus. Best kept secret in history.

ragingloli's avatar

and do not forget that all the apostles are men, and the metaphors of “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood”. could not be more obviously gay.

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli “and do not forget that all the apostles are men, and the metaphors of “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood”. could not be more obviously gay.” that is not as disturbing as the current neo-con interpretation of a christ that would support infinite wars, letting their countrymen die from the lack of health care, and encouraging government by corporations.

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