American writer, civil rights activist and social media influencer Shaun King has called for the removal of statues depicting Jesus as a white European man.
King made the call in a thread on Twitter where he has 1.1 million followers, during a discussion about the removal of racist statues.
All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down.
They are a gross form white supremacy.
Created as tools of oppression.
They should all come down.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) June 22, 2020
He followed it up with a post on Instagram, with an image of Jesus made popular as being “the real face of Jesus“, which scholars agree is a more likely depiction.
View this post on Instagram
Experts have long since said this is likely the most accurate depiction of Jesus. White Americans who bought, sold, traded, raped, and worked Africans to death for hundreds of years in this country, simply could not have THIS man at the center of their faith. And so what I am seeing is that as I say we should tear down your white supremacist idols, a lot of you who practice Christian-whiteness feel like I am attacking the faith, or Jesus. Nope. I’m saying that for hundreds of years you have abused the faith, and religion as a tool of oppression and that we must call it out. It was literally at the root of slavery. White Jesus is not innocent. White Jesus is an oppressive scam to advance white power. Always has been.
Responses to King’s call have been mixed. Some engaged seriously.
There is a long beautiful history of people depicting Jesus looking familiar to their place and culture. Jesus is not about race, and saying to tear down depictions that occur in a European-dominant context is as racist as removing them from any culture. pic.twitter.com/C1wFSr1xXr
— MrSubsidiarity (@MrSubsidiarity) June 22, 2020
Others, less seriously.
And, as news broke, King himself even noted the ridiculousness of the situation, posting to Instagram to clarify his point:
“Hilarious. If you Google ‘Jesus’ right now it’s me that comes up first. They are triggered. Again, if your faith requires Jesus to be a blonde haired blue eyed British man, then your faith is not Christianity, it’s whiteness. You are worshipping whiteness.”
Whilst King is primarily known for his social media activism these days, he is actually a former pastor who founded a church in Atlanta called “Courageous Church”.
In an extensive 2013 article with the Christian Post, King described his feelings about leaving formal ministry.
“It’s been a difficult transition actually. I really thought I would always be a pastor and I’ve served churches for most of my adult life after college even as an assistant pastor or as a senior pastor. I sincerely never had any plans not to be pastoring….
“When I left, it was amazingly difficult for me. I felt like I had lost a child in a way. You know starting the church, I always thought that’s what I would do. I literally got months and months of counseling and coaching to really kind of help me see into the future and help me understand my strengths and weaknesses and begin planning for what’s ahead.”
Yet, even as a pastor, King challenged the status quo.
“When I was pastoring Courageous Church in Atlanta, I made some decisions that I thought were really going to lead the church in the direction that honored Scripture and where I really thought at the time people wanted to go. I think in some ways I moved people too quickly for their comfort and it just didn’t work. Some people really loved the changes and transitions that I was proposing, but it didn’t work.
King said that, in times of tragedy, like the Boston bombings that had just happened when he gave the interview, he wished he was still a pastor, “not just for the Sunday morning influence in the pulpit, but the church is, I still believe, one of the best ways in the world to provide hope.”
“I don’t have any plans at all on pastoring, but I’ve always said to my family I would never just close the door altogether,” he said.