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Studies have shown that Christians the world over tend to align themselves more along racial affiliations than along the Christian values that negate racism. They do not embrace the concept of Christianity which teaches them to transcend racial barriers and direct all their focus towards loving each other like Christ has taught them in the Holy Bible. It is important to note that these Christians would rather associate with brothers and sisters from other denominations who are from their race than fellow Christians from different races (Shurden, 17).
In the US, for example, Hispanic Christians would prefer sticking with fellow Hispanics who may not necessarily be Christians. In other parts of the world, Christians conform to the same racist tendencies apart from the African Americans who seem to really downplay racism when they become born again (Cary et al., 47). One interesting observation that has been made in research is that African Americans Christians tend to please other Christian racial groups when they come into contact with them. What is yet to be known is why African Americans do not display racial tendencies when they are among Christians of different racial affiliations. Is it that African Americans feel inferior or are they led to act that way by the love of Christ? It has also been observed that African Americans who are not Christians do not exercise racial prejudices or favoritism when in positions of authority. They tend to treat all racial groups equally (Davidson 47). Other racial groups exhibit a strong affinity for members of their races. It is imperative that Christians should try to overcome racial prejudices as they are not only retrogressive but also go against the will of Jesus Christ. Christians should show a good example to other religious groups by practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ who served humanity without discrimination. The question that confounds many researchers is why Christians seem to be so helpless in the face of racial prejudices.
Perhaps we can explore several theories historical, and theological that could help shed some light as to why Christians have practiced racial prejudice since time immemorial and do not yet seem to show any signs of stopping the practice in contemporary times. Racism and prejudice are inherent in human nature and can act as veritable impediments to spiritual growth (Davidson 48). They are deeply embedded in our inner self and that is why many Christians cannot help the addiction to racial prejudice. Historically, Judaism as a religion has contributed immensely to the promotion of racial prejudices among Christians. It propagates the preservation of the Jewish race. It is composed of 3 major branches namely the reformed, the orthodox, and the conservative. The 3 differ sharply in principle differ but all claim to espouse the values of Judaism. It is worthwhile noting that a Gentile who converts to Judaism is made to feel inferior to main-stream Jews.
Another theory that has been propounded by analysts points God as having been racist based on the premise that the history of Jesus seems to exclude certain races because Jesus initially came to bring salvation to the Jews .Christianity seems to have been unable to co-exist with other religions therefore it sort to wipe them out. Jews conducted a mass extermination exercise on the people they found in Canaan. In America, millions of natives were killed or enslaved or converted to Christianity. Doesn’t that historical perspective demonstrate clearly, the racist nature of Christians? Most of the races like the Chinese and Koreans and other Non -Christian communities in Asia join Christianity at the expense of their own culture and history because they have to access the gospel of Christ through the Western world. The concept of Christianity revealing itself to all other races through a specific culture, the Hebrew culture raises some racial concerns (Davidson 83).
Christian theology has also been seen to be racist in nature. David Duke was one of the most reputed leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. It was a racist outfit, that employed acute violence to meet its objectives on racism and white domination in the US. He admitted that racial segregation is an intrinsic part of Christianity. He advanced the theory that commanded killings as a way of racial purification. The setting of the Bible is mainly Israel and it is not possible to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ in isolation without direct reference to his Jewish identity (Cary et al., 47). Christology is mainly concerned with Jesus as a person and it tries to look at Jesus Christ devoid of his personal details. The Old Testament has been used by Christians to understand the teachings and life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. They connect some of the Messianic practices like the Lords supper to the Jewish practice of Passover. Much of what happens in the New Testament is interpreted to have its roots in the Old Testament. The argument that Jesus Christ came to save all humanity without linking him to his Jewish roots is therefore untenable. This is because, everything thing Jesus Christ did is given a symbolic meaning in the Old Testament.
The Roman Catholic Church reserves that, in order to access the salvation and love that Jesus Christ brings to the world, a Christian must adhere to the teachings of the Bible and keep to the traditions of the church. It maintains that the church that Christ formed on the day of Pentecost and its teachings do not change (Cary et al., 47). A recent report about the Catholic Church in South Africa revealed that European interests are highly considered while setting the agenda in the church. The damning report exposed that white parishes were at a greater elevation than black parishes. The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains a similar approach to the Roman Catholic in upholding certain Biblical traditions.
Protestants have maintained a liberalized interpretation of what Jesus Christ did. Here, the concept of salvation is emphasized than a mere attachment to traditions and what is considered as common practice of the early church. Protestants believe in a direct access to God who always reveals himself in the Bible.
The Orthodox Church has been linked to racism in the past. This prompted George McGuire(1866-1934) to form a movement called the AOC (African Orthodox Church) in an effort to bring Blacks in Africa and in the Diaspora on board a common movement during the era of Pan Africanism. The black community had been religiously discriminated and hence McGuire’s effort to cater for the spiritual needs of the black community.
The Gospels that comprise Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John tend to give various perspectives namely historical, human, and spiritual. The various perceptions help Christians understand Jesus and his teachings of salvation for humanity (Davidson 77). Western Christianity comprises groups that historically ascended from the Catholic Church but which broke away due to certain doctrinal differences.
Based on the various theological perspectives, Racism and prejudice do not have a place in the church but the addiction towards racism seems to explain the sinful nature of man. Christians must embrace tolerance because no religion can exist in isolation (Davis, 56). The church is faced with a big challenge of fighting racism in light of the various historical and theological theories that seem to give ground to a practice that is against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Racism in the church is in itself a sin as the Bible teaches us that all humanity is equal in the eyes of God and is also retrogressive.