The Politics of Religion
Min. Paul Scott
Senator Barack Obama has been taking a lot of heat, lately for his ties the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Seems like some folks are a little miffed that Rev. Wright's church is a little too "afro-centric."
The nerve of that man!
Imagine that. A black pastor of a predominately black church preaching the Gospel from a black perspective. This man should be defrocked immediately!
But what is afro-centric theology and why does it attract so many black Americans and disturb so many white Americans? What is this fascination with or fear of a "black Jesus?"
The issue of the color of Yeshua (misnamed Jesus) has always been a controversial topic in this country, evoking strong passions both pro and con. With the demographic makeup of America becoming more culturally diverse, many people are questioning the Euro-centric religious icons that America has cherished since she was founded.
The Euro-centric icons are especially problematic for the millions of descendants of slaves, whose "owners" saw no contradiction between being "good" Christians on Sunday morning and gathering for a hanging on Sunday afternoon. The legacy of this contradiction is so strong that even today many in the white community refuse to even contemplate the idea that the "Jesus" whom they serve was the same color of the people that their forefathers put in chains.
This has produced what is referred to as the "Fear of a Black Jesus" syndrome.
The evidence of Yeshua (Jesus) being Black is overwhelming. Many in the Black community believe that the Messiah was black because of the area of the world in which he lived. The so-called Middle East is actually part of Africa divided from the rest of the continent by the man made Suez Canal. Many believe that the Hebrews living in this area two thousand years ago were people of color as it would have been virtually impossible for anyone to live in Northern Africa and have a pale complexion.
The image of Yeshua that is in many homes and churches is not historically correct but came out of the minds of European artists such as Michelangelo, who was commissioned in 1505 by Pope Julius II to paint certain biblical pictures. Many believe that these pictures were used to justify the African Holocaust (the Trans-Atlantic slave trade) and to create an inferiority complex in African people that would be passed down from generation to generation.
The effect of this image being so devastating that even after the physical chains of slavery were removed, the mental chains would still be in place, causing some black Americans, even in the 21st century to reverence the white man as God. African Americans have been taught since birth that nothing good could come out of Africa and that African people have not contributed anything to humanity, worthwhile. Therefore, it is impossible for some to conceptualize the Messiah being anything but white.
However, nowadays, many younger African Americans are challenging the traditional religion that was forced upon their ancestors. They are posing questions that can no longer be ignored.
How can the theology that was used to enslave and persecute you on Friday, be the same one to free and resurrect you on Sunday? Was it not the Euro-centric version of Christianity that endorsed the murder and enslavement of over 100 million African people? Was it not the Euro-centric version of Christianity that put its stamp of approval on the hanging of Black men from trees? How can this possibly be that same form of Christianity that will make African Americans free ?
Many have asked why we are preaching this Afro-Centric Theology and why now? I ask if not now when and if not me who? Someone has to pick up the torch that has been handed down by Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Rev. Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessy and Marcus Garvey. Somebody has to stand up and declare the right of African American religious expression.
Although, some refuse to admit this truth and others seek to hide it, as the old saying goes, "Truth crushed to the ground will rise again!"