Panelists discuss Christianity, race

Helen Yablonski

Three speakers from completely different Christian backgrounds came together to speak on the idea that Christianity is not the “white man’s religion” Monday night.

“Christianity does not belong to any one particular people group, and the fundamental text of Christianity — the Bible, makes that point clear,” said Doctor Vince Bantu, director of The City Ministry Initiative.

Guests filled the Schwartz lecture hall to hear Bantu and fellow speakers Lisa Fields, founder of the Jude 3 Project, and recording artist Sho Baraka voice their opinions on the matter.

Identity politics, or the way our brain can categorize behaviors into certain groups, was explored as relating to how society perceives Christianity as a predominately white practice.

“The beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, the gospel of Jesus Christ incorporates all people groups into the universal message of salvation that realize who the risen savior Jesus Christ,” Bantu said.

Although we may subconsciously believe Christianity to be a white religion, origins lie in the first century in countries such as Egypt, North Africa and Persia according to Bantu.   

Further evidence was presented to prove that Christianity was not adopted into African American culture by slavery, but was the predominate religion in African culture.

“To study ancient African history, is to study Christianity, they live together,” Bantu said.

The lecture continued exploring the history of Christianity and questioning the relationships between one’s self and God.

“One of the greatest problems with Christianity is that it’s seen as a personal relationship with God,” Baraka said.

He explained that this relationship means that God has no concern of how he treats other people, and no concern for how he works in the systems he makes.

“The problem is that Christianity has the means to create systems and structures that only benefit people of a certain hue,” Baraka said.

He continued to explain personal stories of his travels and realizations of culture itself.

“You don’t need Christianity to hate someone,” Baraka said.

The final panelist, Lisa Fields, shared a clip from the movie “Birth of a Nation” to explain the connections between Christianity and slavery.  

She described how people can take negative experiences with religion, and hold them against furthering their experiences.

“Why would you reject something you haven’t even took the time to investigate?,” Fields said.

Churches all across the country are trying to fight against this negative narrative by raising money to donate back to communities and create stronger bonds.

Overall, the original history of Christianity was a heavy topic explored, as well as the idea that the religion is not only the white man’s.

The panelists answered questions at the end of the lecture to engage the audience and tie together any loose strings.

“Christianity has always been a global religion,” Bantu said.

Helen Yablonski is the religions reporter. Contact her at [email protected].