A Fundamentalist argument against Racism (from the bible and DNA)

Pastor Steven Anderson, who believes that gay people should be executed by a righteous government, is also passionately anti-racist: “I’m probably the most non-racist person you’ve ever laid eyes on in your life,” he says. “If half of this nation was Hispanic, or if 75% of this nation was Hispanic, or if 99% was Hispanic, or black, or anything, I would be thrilled.” I suppose it’s a consolation that Anderson is enlightened on some issues.

Just as he easily justifies his homophobia from the bible, so too he proves that racism is anathema in the eyes of God. “If you are a racist person, you need to get right with God,” says Anderson. Here are the essential points from his recent sermon:

1. Racism has always been around and always will be around. Despite our progressive efforts to rid of ourselves of institutionalized racism, it is natural (sinful) for human beings to think tribally, and that “their group” is better than another. Witness the “segregated dining hall” phenomenon in Genesis, where the Egyptians refuse to eat with the “dirty Hebrews”:

“And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians” (Gen 43:32).

Also the famous “segregated dining hall” at Antioch, where Peter capitulated to the men of James, who believed that uncircumcised Gentiles shouldn’t mix with Jews at the same table:

“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” (Gal 2:11-13)

“Whether it’s Egyptians or Jews or whoever,” says Anderson, “it’s easy to demonstrate that through every phase of human history, on every continent, one nationality has puffed itself up against another. This is part of the sinful nature of humanity. You don’t have to teach your kids to be racist. You have to teach them not to be racist.”

2. God, however, is not impressed by anyone’s nationality or ethnicity; it means nothing to Him — indeed, less than nothing. “All nations before him are as nothing. And they are counted to Him less than nothing and vanity.” (Isa 40:17) “How do you get ‘less than nothing’?” asks Anderson. “The bible was ahead of its time.”

3. The heroes of the bible were never troubled by “mixed” or “interracial” marriages. Abraham had a child with Hagar the Egyptian; Judah was married to a Canaanite; Joseph was married to an Egyptian. Most notably, Moses married a black woman (a Cushite/Ethiopian), and when Aaron and Miriam got angry about that marriage, God explicitly took Moses’s side, going so far as to strike Miriam with leprosy for her racist attitude (Num 12:1-12).

4. Even in general, the Hebrews didn’t take much care to keep their “bloodline pure”. See Ezra 10:18-44, where the priests, levites, and Israelites all married foreign women.

5. The idea of any “pure bloodline” is a myth in any case. Anderson invokes ancestry tests which prove how mixed everyone’s DNA is. In Anderson’s case, his top three DNA matches are (1) Moroccan Berber, (2) Spanish, and (3) Arab — even though he was raised to believe that he was mostly Swedish. Anderson’s father has “Alabama black” in his DNA chart. Etc. Scientifically speaking, “race” is an illusion.

6. And why would you be proud of your race to begin with, when you did literally nothing to achieve it?” Or, as the apostle Paul said: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (I Cor 4:7). “Why,” asks Anderson, “are you glorying in something that happened to you automatically, that you had no control over? Losers take pride in their ethnicity since they have no actual achievements.”

7. Those “in Christ” derive their identity from precisely that, not ethnicity. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:27-29) Anderson concludes the sermon by saying that he has rebuked many people for being racist — black people for playing the victim card, white people for their sense of privilege — and he will continue to so, especially in his church, which God intends as a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mk 11:17).

From an exegetical point of view, some of Anderson’s points are more convincing than others. But from a fundamentalist point of view, he deserves credit for representing the clear pattern in the Old and New Testaments which show God as a respecter of no one’s ethnic background. He may have chosen the nation Israel to play a special role in the OT, but the deity didn’t favor the Hebrews or Israelites as a race or ethnicity or for how they look or appear.

I find the example of Moses and his Cushite wife (in point 3) very interesting, but I’m not as confident as Anderson that Aaron and Miriam objected to Moses’ marriage out of racist attitudes for a black woman. That could be what’s implied, but scholars seem divided on that point.

(Note that Anderson has also sermonized on behalf of immigrants (and fervently against Donald Trump), showing how the bible is pro-immigration.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s