North Texas Daily

Christianity’s complicated relationship with white supremacy

Christianity’s complicated relationship with white supremacy

Christianity’s complicated relationship with white supremacy
April 21
12:00 2022

Whiteness has cemented itself in every facet of the American identity, and religion is no different. Christianity has always had a complicated history of violence — not because religion is inherently wrong, but because it has often been used as a tool of mass control.

Religion has continued to be a way to penalize marginalized identities throughout history, whether burning witches at the stake or defining marriage through a heterosexual lens.

In a country that prides itself on religious freedom, we still determine our values through the white perspective on Christianity, a trend that actively harms anyone who refuses to bow. Historically, Christianity in the U.S. was primarily used as a tool for assimilation. 

Out of a lack of respect for Native Americans’ customs, the Europeans started their destructive crusade through the west with the idea of “rehabilitating” the indigenous peoples of the land into their version of upstanding citizens. This would mean ridding them of their traditional garments, language and religion. 

Today, we primarily look back at this with shame. However, whiteness is adaptable and, in the modern era, this continues underneath the guise of mission trips. Colonialism and whiteness must change with the times to survive. 

Mission trips implore the same tactics as they always have by avoiding the hard systemic and intersectional work that needs to be done, favoring a euro-centric way of life as the right way. By positioning a white perspective as superior, using their economic and social privilege as weight above others’ heads, the violence of colonialism continues.

Christianity was also used to pacify enslaved Africans, and its remnant of anti-Blackness can be found in one of the most religious parts of the U.S.: the Bible Belt.

To control enslaved Black people, white supremacists drafted the “The Slave Bible,” which focused on submission and obedience. It reiterated passages about enslaved people listening to their masters and negated anything regarding freedom. To this day, white supremacists use biblical text to subjugate Black Americans to social and physical violence.

Furthermore, the plan to conquer and convert was essentially a success. Many Black Americans no longer have any connection to their African ancestry or customs and have instead adopted a religion that subjected them to harm.   

Besides the violence that occurred to people of color, the Christian faith has been the main factor in the opposition of those whose genders and sexuality are socially marginalized.

Some scholars even suggest that the modern conservative view of gender and sexuality comes from a European standpoint. The variety in expression and attraction that was experienced and expressed became suppressed due to religious alienation and shame. 

To move forward as a country, we must understand how the past has constructed the future. If this country is to be free of religious freedom, we must look at how we can make that evident. 

When the Pledge of Allegiance — a recitation that is supposed to symbolize who we are as a country — is plagued with racist history and alludes to the Christian God, we must take a step back and look at the countless correlations that continue to haunt us to this day. 

Religion and Christianity do not have to be demonized or expunged from this country, but we must start truly following our rights and standards. If this is a country of religious freedom, we must stop positioning ourselves as one with Christian values.

We must change the language we use, so as to be inclusive and we must acknowledge the damage done in the past and how it continues today. Nothing is wrong with being religious, but it is problematic when the people it serves most are white.

Featured Illustration By Erika Sevilla

About Author

Lake Smith

Lake Smith

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