How shall we justify ourselves if we permit even a little of the truth to be laid aside? Is that ours to do? When peace is injurious to truth, peace must give way, for peace with God is of greater value than peace with men.
Dr Abraham Kuyper
Can a Christian be a racist? When most people see that question they immediately laugh, or say, “of course not”. They may even say that those two things are antithetical to each other. Also, what many people are hearing is, “Can a Christian be EVIL”, for they believe that racism is one of the worst beliefs a person can have, but this is unjustly biased. First let’s define racism, Webster says:
a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
(I would clarify this definition by saying race is just another word for a specific set of genetics, and that superiority is a subjective word. Dogs are superior to men at running, does that mean that dogs are superior to men?)
What most people think of when they think of a racist is a guy burning stuff, and killing people just for the color of their skin. They think of murder, and men treating other men in terrible ways. They think of prideful men who do awful things to others for his own personal profit. They think of overly haughty men who persecute others who are in fact better than him, just because they are different from him. In fact, all of those things do not come from the definition of racism. In retort, many will say that those things are a definite result of racism, and cannot be avoided by racists, but they are mistaken. Let’s look at another definition.
discrimination in favor of one species, usually the human species, over another, especially in the exploitation or mistreatment of animals by humans.
I know what you are thinking, “but humans and animals are truly different, everybody knows this”, and I completely agree. My point is that one can be a speciesist and not treat animals cruelly. I am most certainly a speciesist, but I believe it immoral to mistreat animals. A great many people are speciesist, and treat their animals better than they treat their neighbors. Now that doesn’t mean speciesist treat animals and people the same, but it doesn’t automatically result in cruelty to animals either. The same is true of racism.
Let’s look at another category that really doesn’t have a word for what we are talking about ( Ableism and Geneticism are close but don’t really cut it) so I will invent one:
a belief that the brain function is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that brain function differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular brain function.
Almost everybody I know is a brainist. Almost everyone I know will acknowledge that they are smarter than some, and not as smart as others. Does this result in cruelty to others? Sometimes, but it does not explicitly follow that a brainist will be cruel to others based on their brain function. In fact we have a good case study, down syndrome people. Everybody agrees that down syndrome peoples brains do not function like the rest of us. The honest person will easily confess that down syndrome people are not as capable as the rest of us, that they are inferior in brain function, that they shouldn’t be flying airplanes, or designing bridges.
What we need to do is be honest, and decouple the idea of racism with evil. To be racist, or speciesist, or brainist is one thing, and to be evil is something else. If you acknowledge down syndrome people are not as smart as the rest of us, you are just being honest, if you say we should murder all down syndrome people, you are being evil. If you say that blacks are not as smart as whites, you are just being honest, if you say we should murder all blacks, you are being evil. What we should not be doing is attacking the wrong target. If a man uses a fact of nature as an excuse for evil, let us not attack the fact, but let us attack the evil.
The truth is that genetics are real, that race is real. That different races have different genetics. That the average IQ of the races is different. That the average time preference for the races is different. That an average white person is very much different from the average black person genetically, and that those differences cause them to behave differently. This is the truth, it is the duty of all Christians to speak the truth. So to answer my initial question, can Christians be racist, I say that they can, but what I really believe is this: Christians can, and should, acknowledge that there are indeed races, and that the differences among those races are not insignificant.