White Jesus, Black Judas: We See You See Color

It was a nice, suburban, country club of a church.

Not just ordinary niceness, but professionally polished, customer-service-type niceness being provided by a cheerful, uniformed team of multiethnic ambassadors. Some held signs directing the flow of traffic in one hand and waved with the other. Some drove smooth-riding golf carts with shiny wheels to pick us up from our parking spaces and bring us to the entrance of the clubhouse church lobby.

There were greeters outside and inside the doors, passing out programs and showing the way to the restrooms, the visitor’s kiosks, and the sanctuary. There were smiling, name-tagged ushers to escort us to comfy theater seats. There was one of the pastors coming to center stage, in his youngish-looking pants, to encourage our engagement with their social media and invite our connections to come to the next service.  

The lights, cameras, music, costumes, and fog machines revealed a highly talented, coordinated, and financially endowed production. At the end of the Easter program, the lead pastor commended the cast of over three hundred – 300 – volunteers who made the production possible.   

Over 300 diverse cast members to provide hospitality and traffic control, operate equipment, sing and act out episodes of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and offer prayer and gifts to those who professed to accept Jesus as Savior.  They seemed to be representatives of Revelation’s multitude which nobody could number – from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Had we finally found a colorblind church, where evangelicals go beyond their contextomy of MLK’s “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” line? Was this sanctuary truly a place of refuge, safety, and protection from racist stereotypes and hierarchies?

Not quite.

If your wealthy, suburban, ‘colorblind,’ multicultural church puts on an Easter play in which Jesus and 11 of his disciples are White, but you cast Judas as Black, we see you see color.

If your Easter play has Black Roman soldiers crucifying a White Jesus, we see you see color.

If you portray the women in Jesus’ life as White, except for a disheveled, demon-possessed, Black Mary of Magdalene roaring and rolling on the ground until rescued by a White Savior – we see you see color.

Far from being a sanctuary for proclaiming reconciliation, it is a lab for compounding the twin heresies of White supremacy and Black inferiority – and colorblindness is its Bunsen burner.

By Carl McRoy

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