This past week we saw two very different responses to Shaun King, a self-proclaimed activist that called on images and statues that showed Jesus depicted as a white European to be taken down. On its face, that sounds legitimate because if Jesus came from the Levant, in all reality he would likely be more tan or brown color. It might make it appear that the Catholic Church was whitewashing Jesus.
Except its not hard to see past this. I’ve traveled a fair amount, and every Catholic Mass I attend overseas, I noticed that the statue depictions are different. Jesus in Turkey was more brown. Jesus in Ethiopia is black. The Blessed Mother appeared in Guadalupe with distinctly Mexican features. And so on. It only takes a brief pause from your cat videos to Google “Jesus around the world” to see this first hand. The fact that Jesus and his Blessed Mother take on the various characteristics of the local population is amazing to me. We have a truly universal Church. It really is for everyone, no matter your skin color.
(And as an aside, if he was a carpenter, he was probably ripped and muscular from working all day, and could have run a Crossfit gym)
Sadly, this is the first part of linking the Catholic Church to slavery. Already, there is vandalism on the Wikipedia page about the Church and African Americans. Already we have people linking vague actions by the Church, such as this article, to racism:
“The way the church would sustain or enable racism would be through the acts of the people who make it up,” he told Catholic News Service. “But the actions of all of those people are deeply influenced and shaped by social, political, and economic structures they inhabit.
“Many of them would not perceive their actions as enabling racism, but if they accept the structures uncritically, they are doing that, and they inhibit the church from realizing the full impact or engagement of its social teaching.”The Boston Pilot
So, pray tell, what are we supposed to do with the above information? Feed the poor? Educate people? Help people find jobs? The Church already does these things! Has the author not looked at a Church bulletin lately? There is a ministry for all these things and more, limited only by people’s imagination and time.
As said before, the best strategy with people like this is to push back. Folks like Shaun King won’t stop with their demands, they are simply looking for weakness to exploit. I give Bishop Hying props for standing up to this mob, where he accepts that we need to have dialog and action while rejecting calls for destruction. Compare this with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is now “reassessing” depictions of Jesus as white.
No matter what the Anglican Church does, someone in the mob will find it as not enough and will call for further action. Mobs don’t stop. When they find weakness, they push harder. Pushing back forces them to stop. The Anglican Church isn’t going to get a break, and they are going to learn this rule, unfortunately, the hard way.
We live in a democracy, but if aren’t willing to enforce its rules, we’ll soon live in a mob state.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.