Religion and Racism

Exploring the Paradox—Can You Be a Christian and a Racist?

by Theron N. Ford (Author) Blanche Jackson Glimps (Author)
©2020 Monographs XIV, 142 Pages


Religion and Racism provides an extensive examination of the paradox that arises from the intersection of being a Christian and a racist. A racist believes that one racial group is superior to another. Yet, since the nation’s revolutionary birth, the United States claims a pious, devout mantle of Christianity that served as the nation’s moral compass, while engaging in horrendous acts of racial violence. How can a white Christian male, sit in a church, engage in Christian prayers, and then in cold-blooded fashion murder nine African American Christians in their own church? Christians traditionally have always designated "churches" as places of refuge and sanctuary. The binary of whiteness and Christianity emerged and came to dominate much of the world. In the United States and other parts of the world, whiteness and Christianity have served to subjugate people of color even as such people themselves also came to embrace Christ's teachings, often at the cost of the loss of their traditional forms of religion and culture. Armed with the Bible and deep-seated belief in racial superiority, European colonizers came to shape most of the world as we know it today. The result has been an unequal control of the world’s resources and vastly disparate living standards for people of color and whites, both internationally and within specific nations. People of color have been treated as highly valued commodities, while simultaneously being stripped of their humanity—with the sanction of the Christian faith.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1 The Issue of the Paradox
  • Chapter 2 The Heart of a Christian
  • Chapter 3 Christianity and White Supremacy
  • Chapter 4 The Perpetuation of White Supremacy: Legislators and Citizenry
  • Chapter 5 Christian Forgiveness and the American Judicial System
  • Chapter 6 The Intersection of Christianity and Education
  • Chapter 7 Reconciliation Is Not Enough
  • Chapter 8 Combatting Racism Through Advocacy
  • Epilogue
  • Glossary
  • About the Authors
  • Index

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With this volume, the authors, Doctors Theron Ford and Blanche Jackson Glimps, call upon Christians to recognize and explore critically the deep, pervasive, and often ignored—or worse, denied—intersections among racism, Christianity, and the founding of the United States of America. In their work, they highlight Christian involvement in and responsibility for the unjust, dehumanizing, and anti-Christian realities of slavery, white supremacy, segregation, and white privilege that have manifested themselves variously throughout U.S. history in our social, political, educational, judicial, and ecclesial systems. Christians, they rightly argue, have been complicit in causing great and lasting harm to African Americans and other people of color and have yet to acknowledge or account for it adequately. Such failure stands contrary to the basic tenets of Christianity.

Although neither scripture scholars nor theologians, the authors nonetheless call Christians to task further by demanding that they look within their own moral, spiritual, and theological sources and traditions to combat racism by exercising biblical love and justice and to work in solidarity with those who have been harmed. Christians, they suggest, should stand as advocates for and, most importantly, with those who have been so grievously harmed, enabling them to use their own powerful voices, community resources, and political power to bring about change. With this call to justice, the authors hope to wake Christians from their dogmatic slumber so that they might recognize the social and personal sin ←xi | xii→of racism and engage their moral compasses inspired by Jesus Christ. In this way, Christians and their institutions can stop causing and sustaining systemic harm and instead become advocates of authentic reconciliation and meaningful, lasting, social change.

The authors are correct in their assertion that one cannot be a Christian and, in any way, espouse, deny, ignore, or perpetuate racism in its many forms. Instead, Christians ought to exercise true contrition and seek authentic reconciliation and justice in a spirit of love and solidarity that promotes self-advocacy by all who have been harmed and oppressed.

Edward Peck, Ph.D.

←xii | xiii→



We continue to acknowledge the love, support, and modeling our parents, Julius and Orema Ford, and John and Agnes Jackson gave our siblings and us. Both sets of parents were part of the Great Migration that brought them north seeking better life opportunities for themselves and their children. Our parents witnessed some of the most difficult times for African Americans; the white terrorism against our people and the unwillingness of the legal system to honor its obligation to enforce the law for all U.S. citizens, coupled with the Jim Crow laws, gave our parents the resolve to ensure their children would have a better life than they had. We acknowledge their sacrifices.

Further, we acknowledge our parents’ innate intellectual abilities that refused to be extinguished by the lack of formal education opportunities that were indicative of the nation’s segregated schools. Yet, they persisted and independently became well read, but more importantly they became critical readers of the world that oppressed them and skilled in effectively resisting their oppressors. They instilled in us a compassion for all people that is not bound by religion, race, sexual orientation, or social class. For that we are so grateful, for it allowed us to explore a world of opportunities, to befriend people across the globe, and to enjoy life fully.

We particularly acknowledge the martyrs in Christchurch, New Zealand, Charleston, South Carolina, Poway, California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Charlottesville, Virginia who lost their lives at the hands of individuals who ←xiii | xiv→wrapped themselves in a mantle of Christianity that facilitated their white separatist violence and ideology. Those fatal actions brought so much pain and suffering from which we hope will be the impetus for challenging the rise of white racist Christians nationally and internationally. Additionally, we hope the words in this book will stimulate critical thinking that fosters the birth of a different Christian paradigm.

We also wish to acknowledge alternative heroes who chose to defy existing social and religious pressures to stand in solidarity with their fellow white citizens who oppressed people of color. Rather, these alternative heroes, frequently at great personal cost, exhibited solidarity with people of color and often worked to bring peaceful changes that would benefit our nation. We are proud to chronicle the inspiring stories of such heroes in our book.

As educators we want to acknowledge the future heroes, some known and unknown who are the hope we need. Many were students in our classrooms who boldly engaged in exploring subject matter that was challenging in its hard look at our nation’s enduring racism and bloody history. Many became transformed, taking with them to their communities and classrooms a desire to be social change agents.

Finally, we acknowledge the next generations in our families; our children—Wesley and Kia; our grandchildren—Nuri, Amalia, and Ayselah; our nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. We pray you will honor the memory of our parents, your ancestors. Strive to walk in wisdom, honor, courage, and make your faith work for change.

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The Issue of the Paradox

God commands true believers to be merciful, do justice and exhibit humility.

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Christians are those who believe in Jesus Christ and purport to adhere to his values and teachings as demonstrated by their daily behaviors while working, worshiping, and generally interacting with fellow human beings. Yet, a great paradox exists between what many Christians purport to believe and what they do, especially in regard to their interactions with people of color. According to Micah 6:8 (NIV), God commands true believers to be merciful, do justice, and exhibit humility. Thus, a true believer—a true Christian—must serve the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the marginalized, the sick, the diseased, and the sinful. Failure to do so is perhaps an indication that they do not have a relationship with God no matter how fervently they exclaim their righteousness. That disconnect between living by God’s commandment and the perverted interpretation conjured up by some Christians finds them not only comfortable in their persecution of Jews, Muslims, African Americans, non-heterosexuals, and the poor, but actually proud of their perversion of Christ’s teachings.

An example of a Christian who purported to live the word of God is Kim Davis, a former Kentucky court clerk. Ms. Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of both state and federal law, stating she was acting ←1 | 2→under God’s authority (Schreiner, 2018). For some Christians, Kim Davis would hardly be the person to state she was acting under God’s authority given the facts of her personal life. Davis has been married four times, and admits to infidelity with her first husband. Further, her twins were born out of wedlock (Braga, 2015). Some would say Davis is not the person best positioned to define traditional marriage and Christian values. Yet, others defended Davis stating she is merely trying to live by her Christian faith. Her defenders were quick to note that God forgives our sins and Davis had sought and received God’s forgiveness for her transgressions. This incident made clear that this nation of Christians has many interpretations of good Christian behavior, what sins can be forgiven, and the means by which to receive forgiveness. It was never articulated how Davis’ transgressions were forgiven and what specifically positioned her to know what God’s authority is.

What makes an individual a Christian? Is it enough to merely profess to be a follower of Christian teaching or must one also take in tandem-specific actions to truly be a Christian? These questions have been something of an ongoing issue among Christians for centuries. Christians are given guidance in Matthew 28: 16–20, the Great Commission, an important passage considered in the Bible. The most well-known version of the Great Commission depicted in Matthew 28:16–20 finds Jesus stating;

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (ESV)


XIV, 142
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (October)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XIV, 142 pp., 1 tables.

Biographical notes

Theron N. Ford (Author) Blanche Jackson Glimps (Author)

Now retired, Dr. Theron N. Ford spent 50 years as an educator in every education setting from preschool to graduate school. Her work included teaching students with special needs as well as teaching in the Bahamas, Malawi and in Catholic universities. Dr. Blanche Jackson Glimps, now retired, was a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Tennessee State University. She has been an educator for many years with her first teaching position with Detroit Public Schools as a third-grade teacher and later as a special educator..


Title: Religion and Racism
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158 pages