A new exhibit has opened at the Musee de l’Homme (French for “Museum of Man”) in Paris. The exhibit is titled “Us and Them” and attempts to explore the science of racism and prejudice. It’s an interactive exhibit that invites visitors to test their own prejudices. Visitors are asked to choose who they would sit next to in an airport lounge using different words to give the options. The exhibit presents the history of racism and the genetic, biological data showing there is no scientific justification for racism.
With the influx of refugees into Europe and immigration in the United States, this is an important issue. The exhibit is needed because all prejudice is the product of ignorance. The only system on planet Earth that is truly void of racial prejudice is Christianity. However, that is not what history shows. People have done horrible racial violence using the name of Christianity including the Ku Klux Klan, the Crusades, slavery, and the persecution of racial minorities in the United States throughout our history.
Racism contradicts the very heart of Christianity, but Christians have failed to live up to their own standards. Atheists continue to use this fact as a means of denigrating Christianity. I remember when I was a very young child and my father wakened me from sleep one night when we lived in Talladega, Alabama. He dragged me to the front window of our house which was on the campus of Talladega State Teacher’s College–an all-black college at that time. He pointed to a burning cross in our front yard. My father was one of two white professors at the school, and as he pointed to the cross, my atheist father said to me, “See, son, that is what Christians do.”
Jesus worked to break down hatred and prejudice of all kinds. In chapter four of John’s gospel, Jesus spent a great deal of time with a person who represented the classic example of racial prejudice. The person he spoke with was a Samaritan. Verse 9 is careful to point out that the prejudice against Samaritans was so intense that “no dealings were allowed with them.” In addition to that, the person was a woman. The Samaritan woman said, “How is it that you, a Jew, are asking me a woman…” In verse 27 the disciples “marveled that he talked with a woman.” There are many other incidents where Jesus broke down religious, sexual, and ethnic prejudice and addressed the needs of people–even if they were Romans or Gentiles.
The first century Church was made up of a mixture of people. In Galatians 3:28 Paul concludes a part of his message in which he condemns the recipients of his letter because they have “perverted the gospel of Christ” by allowing the prejudices and legalism of Judaism to re-enter the Church. His conclusion is that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christians have missed a wonderful opportunity to be shining lights in the world when they have failed to accept the example and teaching of Jesus. Racism and prejudice have raised their ugly heads again and again. Let us not make the same mistake in the twenty-first century.
Reference: Science News, May 27, 2017, page 28.
–John N. Clayton © 2017