Jesus of Nazareth and White Evangelical Fragility
Last week, I came across an image that sparked a reflection on a lot of the trauma I experienced as a child. It’s trauma that lingers in my life, and it’s trauma that I discovered a whole lot of other people share.
Well, I posted about my trauma and how it affected my philosophy and life choices on my Facebook.
Here’s that post:.
If Jesus of Nazareth was an actual human who actually existed, this is, apparently, what that man looked like, according to an artist and an algorithm and actual, historical, data (as opposed to a story that white people tell each other).
I am an atheist. I do not believe in god, or the devil, or heaven, or hell. But I like and respect this guy. He was a rebel, he was an antiauthoritarian, he dedicated his life to helping the poor, the sick, the indigent, the people who were discarded and rejected by society. He hung out with sex workers and lepers, and gave comfort to the sick and suffering, and he loudly and relentlessly called out the hypocrisy of the church and its leaders. As I understand it, he was like, “Hey, you’re a sinner. That’s a bummer. Let me help you be a better person. No, I don’t expect anything from you for that. I just want to be as loving as I can be.” He was a really cool guy. He was also a revolutionary, a rebel, a profound threat to the people who were in power at the time.
This guy, in this picture, is not the Jesus I was introduced to in parochial school. The Jesus I was introduced to was soooooo white, like super super super white, and he was keeping an eye on you so he could snitch on you to his dad, who was SUPER PISSED AT EVERYTHING YOU DID all the time for some reason. The Jesus I knew was, like, maybe going to be okay with you, as long as you knew what a giant fuck up you were. And he was absolutely not accepting of anyone who didn’t do exactly what the authority figures at school told us we had to do. And Reagan was essentially his avatar sent to Earth. If we didn’t worship Reagan the same way we were supposed to worship white Jesus, we were going to have a REALLY bad time. Did I mention that I was, like, 8 when all of this was drilled into me?
I deeply resent American Christianity. It has brought nothing but pain into my life. I deeply resent and despise evangelical Christians who turned this guy in this picture, who was reportedly a cool, loving, gentle, dude, who was a legit rebel, into someone who hates all the same things they hate, and who LOVES authoritarians the same way they do. I despise the people who do all sorts of cruel, hurtful, hateful things in this guy’s name. And they are EVERYWHERE in America.
I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the world. What I do know is that, in America, this person has been perverted into a weapon, a cudgel, to be used against the same people the actual Jesus loved and stood up for. It’s disgusting.
And, look, if someone professes to follow the teachings of this dude, whose WHOLE FUCKING THING was “love everyone. Period. No exceptions”, and they don’t, like, do that? They are as bad as the money changers in the temple. I know that this dude loves them, because that’s his whole thing, but I suspect that, if this dude exists, he is disappointed and maybe a little embarrassed by them.
As an afterthought: I can’t stop thinking about how this dude was an immigrant, and poor. I keep thinking that, if he showed up in … let’s say Texas, today, how badly he would be treated by the very same people who use his name and pervert his teachings to exert control over the very same people Jesus spent his entire life looking after.
And, honestly, none of this would even matter if the American Christian extremists would keep their white Jesus out of our laws and government.
The most unexpected, and ultimately healing result of this post were the literal thousands of comments (over 11K last time I looked) from people who shared my experience in their own way, who said “your experience is valid, I share it, and I am so sorry.” There were literally hundreds of comments, many from clergy, who said, “I do not share your experience, but it is still valid. I’m so sorry.” A pastor observed, “if you are a Christian and this post makes you feel angry or defensive, I encourage you to examine your faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ.” And then there were about a dozen or so angry, judgmental, proselytizing people who exemplified why I despise what I defined as American Christianity and the Evangelicals who use it to hurt and control others. I spent more time participating in comments and discussion on that post than I have on anything else I’ve ever written, and it was profound. It was healing. It was supportive. It was valuable. And, for the moment at least, it’s all gone, because Facebook has decided that post is hate speech.
As far as I can tell, there’s nothing hateful there. I mean, after I was so abused by self-professed Christians, I am allowed to despise them. I am allowed to reject their world view, and I am allowed to talk about it. There’s nothing hateful or bigoted about that. I am allowed to draw a boundary, express why that boundary is there, and defend it.
And yet, as happens so frequently when I write something that right wing authoritarians get angry about, I’ve been locked out of my Facebook account, again, for what they claim is hate speech and bigotry. Clearly, someone or group of someones brigaded my post, and Facebook responded as it always does.
They should at least be honest, and call it what it is: White Evangelical Fragility can’t handle someone like me expressing these feelings and beliefs. It threatens everything they hold dear, and we just can’t have that, not in White Jesus America.
I’ve appealed the action. It will take days to get a response, if I get any response at all. This, coupled with yesterday’s outage, is a good argument for breaking up Facebook, subjecting it to more rigorous and responsive oversight, and for having our own personal spaces online where an untouchable corporation can’t interfere with our communications.
EDIT TO ADD:
It’s back. Good. It never should have been taken down in the first place.