Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Race to God (Part 3)...

*This is part three of a three part post. The three parts are meant to be continuous, as opposed to being a related series, and should be read as such. The post was broken down into separate parts for ease of presentation and commenting.*

The OT is ripe with tales of evil-doing, untrustworthy outsiders and the strict precautions and violent measures that have to be taken with respect to such. I need not outline Israel’s gruesome, barbaric conquest and eradication of outside nations, committed in the name of their god’s jealousy, insecurity, and general malevolence.

More particularly, the tales of Cain (Gen. 4:15) and Ham/Canaan’s (Gen. 9:20-27) curses have serious repercussions for black people. Some may argue that the popularly held beliefs about these verses are misconceptions, but this is a moot point, as these connotations are just that – popular, specifically so during the era’s in which we saw their implications materialized on a grand, heinous scale.

Aside from the above quoted verses, the Bible has many passages which promote homogeneity, push heritage and blood-lines, and support genocide and slavery. A precursory investigation into the history of slavery, segregation, and anti-miscegenation in America, and especially the justification thereof, is awash with religion. It should also be noted that most racist groups in the US identify themselves as Christian (KKK, WCOTC, Christian Identity, et al.). These bigots often quote the Bible as divine justification for their ideology (eg. Genesis 1:24-25; Numbers 25:7,8; Ezra 10:3; Acts 17:26-27).

Add Biblical support for slavery, orders against “mixing,” and a curse that doomed black people to be the ultimate “servants” to the already established notion of original sin (read: inherent worthlessness) and Jesus’ “turn-the-cheek” policy of acquiescence, and the apple pie-and-baseball-American tradition of racism isn’t exactly a bewildering situation.

Christianity is also completely devoid of any sensible concept of justice. In fact, two of its major premises completely contradict and counteract each other:

The concept of original sin states, in essence, that punishment for crimes committed by one can be imposed on others.

Jesus’ death tells us that the punishment of one person can be used as retribution for all other’s crimes.

For those who believe in salvation by faith (as opposed to works), a child-molesting murderer who accepts Jesus has more right in Heaven than an altruistic philanthropist who doesn’t. The Christian emphasis on forgiveness further demonstrates that someone can do pretty much anything and ultimately get away with it.

The picture painted is that god favors one group of people over another, doesn’t want people mixing it up too much (to the point of ordered, justified, and assisted genocide), doomed black folk to a position of inferiority and servitude, decides culpability and retribution are essentially capricious, enforces complaisant obedience, and rewards pretty much anyone, no matter how they lived, a one-way ticket to paradise – as long as they believe it without question, regardless of evidence.

This is why the oppressed can seek comeuppance through the exact same faith that the oppressors use to avoid their own. The very same god avenges and recompenses the downtrodden and advocates and exonerates the despot.

And on Sunday, a black preacher will deliver a sermon that the gods created man in their image, and orders "thou shalt not judge", and "love thy neighbor" to a congregation of black faces, while across the street a white pastor preaches the same to pews full of white faces.


Shinsyotta said...

I think the relationship between race and religion is very interesting. I can't help but think that it's actually more to do with levels of education within cultures.
I am a big fan of the idea of memes and I tend to look at things from that perspective. Naturally, black people have black friends and white people have white friends. At least this is the social norm and people like you and myself are unusual. Hence, it's not surprising that religion persists more strongly among black people than white people given the degree to which religion is embedded in US black culture.
One thing that bothers me a great deal is the lack of critical thinking in US culture as a whole. It's almost cool to be dumb, kna'm sayin'? Anyway, I wrote an article on this that might or might not be of interest.

DUB said...

Memes do present quite a fascinating proposition.

I also agree that religion and education are conversely related - near antitheses of each other. Since quality of education is so closely tied to race in America, I'm sure it plays a role in the perceived religiosity of the black population.

Critical thinking is absolutely a tragic rarity in the US. My children are receiving an education in a Christian school, and I fear critical thinking will be one of the main casualties, along with some sense of self and identity - a horror I must remain vigilant against.

I appreciate the link your post, which I read, commented on, and wrote a blog entry in response to (which I'll post later).