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Racism As A Religion PDF  | Print |  E-mail
The Heresy Christians Tolerate
[Article Excerpted from Author’s Must We Be Silent?]
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

    Since racism often expresses itself as a conflict among people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, attempts to understand the nature of racism have typically centered on an analysis of political, economic, and cultural factors. Not much attention has been given to the religious nature of racism. [1]

    When we think of religion, what usually comes to mind are the supernatural religions, such as the traditional world religions of Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. These emphasize the supernatural and otherworldly values (like God, the Devil, angels, heaven, hell, etc.). But there are other kinds of religion which have essentially no place for supernatural realities. These religions, known as secular religions, include communism, socialism, fascism, and secular humanism. [2]  

    Racism may be classed with the latter group of religions. It is one of the most powerful secular religions in today's world. Like the other secular religions, racism is competing with Christianity. Let me illustrate by comparing Christianity with the secular religions of communism and racism. [3]

    All three religions—Christianity, communism and racism--(1) revere and obey their leaders (Christ, Marx, Hitler, respectively); (2) rely on authoritative writings (Bible, the writings of Marx and Lenin, or Gobineau's Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853); [4] (3) condemn the evils in society and seek to provide answers to societal problems (but they differ in their understanding of the nature and causes of the evil); (4) extol lofty ideals of justice, equity and brotherhood as basic to meaningful human existence; (5) require absolute obedience, commitment and self-sacrifice; (6) are zealous in winning converts; (7) require faith and confidence that the ideals of their religion will ultimately triumph.

    Apparently, because racism has been so well domesticated among those who profess Christianity, few recognize the religious nature of racism. If, however, racism is seen as another religion in competition with Christianity, then the simultaneous adherence, by some Christians, to the God of the Bible and the idol of race is a form of polytheism, and their religious profession is syncretistic.

    Such Christians may claim to live under the authority of the God of the Bible in many respects, but because they serve two different gods, when they are confronted with crucial matters of race it will soon be apparent that the idol of race will determine their attitude, decision, and action.

Characteristics of the Religion of Racism

    Racism is (1) an attempt to find meaning for human existence by looking to one's race as the center of value and the object of devotion; (2) a religious faith in an unverifiable belief in the inherent superiority of a race—a faith for which countless people will gladly work, suffer, kill, and die.

    Characteristics. As a religion, racism shares all the essential characteristics of every other religion (secular or supernatural). Thus, racism has its own:

(1) Sacred realities, which may take the form of a tangible object (such as a Confederate or Nazi flag[5]), or even a person (e.g. Adolf Hitler or Elijah Muhammad);

(2) Sets of beliefs, which are creeds and myths that attempt to explain the origin and nature of reality;

(3) Practices, which are the active observable sides of religion (and may include acts of discrimination, violence, segregation, etc. and may involve rituals and ceremonies, such as wearing a special kind of clothing or hair style);

(4) Symbolisms, which are an attempt to express the essence of the racist faith by evoking a religious emotion in the follower; in Nazi Germany the symbols used included the swastika, the stretched-out hand and the phrase “Heil Hitler”;

(5) Community of worshipers, which is the social group that shares the beliefs and practices of the racist religion; the racist community may be a church, a tribe (and their practice is tribalism), a gang (whether respectable, like the apartheid government of South Africa, or ignoble, e.g., the Skinheads or Ku Klux Klan), or a nation (in which case the civil religion becomes known as fascism);

(6) Moral values, which are the racist community's sense of right and wrong, which it seeks to preserve and transmit to future generations, for the survival of that group (e.g. the view that it is wrong to integrate churches and schools, or marry people of other races, or employ qualified workers of the other races).

Some Religious Doctrines of Racism

    Racism is not just an ideology of race or power. It is also a religion that has its own sets of beliefs and practices. This fact is rarely recognized. However, in her definition of racism, anthropologist Ruth Benedict has correctly suggested that racism is a religion (1) that is established on a naturalistic world view, [6]  and (2) which has the superior race as the focus of its future (or eschatological) hope and its philosophy of history. Identifying the three cardinal dogmas of the racist faith, Benedict writes that racism is:

        the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by Nature to hereditary inferiority and another group is destined to hereditary superiority. It is the dogma that the hope of civilization depends upon eliminating some races and keeping others pure. It is the dogma that one race has carried progress throughout human history and can alone ensure future progress. [7]

    The following remarks will briefly summarize the racist faith and show why it is incompatible with biblical Christianity.

    Epistemology: Religious Starting Point. Epistemology asks: How does one come to a knowledge of truth? Biblical Christianity teaches that the way to come to a dependable knowledge of truth about reality is “from above”—through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and His written Word (2 Tim 3:15-17; John 17:3).

    The religion of racism, on the other hand, distorts the biblical method by offering two alternative sources of knowledge, both of which are “from below”: (1) internal source (self-knowledge), and (2) external source (knowledge of the other race). Both of these are a reflection on the human situation.

    Racists hold that in order to really understand what is going on in a given social context, one must belong to the alleged superior race. Thus, a statement like, “You don't understand because you are not black/white/Hispanic,” may have racist overtones, in that understanding is predicated on identification with a given race. The subtle implication is that unless one is black/white/Hispanic, one cannot fully appreciate or empathize with people of those races.

    In this respect racist epistemology is similar to those reflected in theologies of liberation, feminism, and homosexuality which also assert that one can only know the truth about a particular reality when one is poor or oppressed, a woman, or a gay. One way racism reinforces this idea of self-knowledge is through versions of teaching dubbed ethnic pride/identity.

    Alternatively, the external source of religious knowledge for the racist is obtained through a knowledge of the other race. This is illustrated in statements like: “You must know the truth about the black/white man, if ________” or “You've got to understand the black/white/Hispanic person's thinking or ability if ________”). The knowledge being sought usually is in the form of stereotypes (exaggerated beliefs/myths/jokes) about the different races.

    There are two major problems with the racist way of knowing. First, it distorts the essential humanness of all races by exaggerating the significance of their outward appearances at the expense of their inner kinship of spirit. This inner relatedness of all races (analogous to what theologians refer to as congeniality) is established on the fact that all human beings were created in the image of God, and consequently have been endowed with a capacity to understand, empathize, appreciate, and communicate with all races—irrespective of their racial backgrounds.

    Second, since racist epistemology is “from below” and not “from above,” racist theology tends to look up to sociology, anthropology, history, and science, rather than to biblical revelation, to provide explanations and answers to racial problems. It should be noted that while the Bible is sometimes consulted by the racists, the Bible plays only a supportive role, bolstering postures that have already been taken; even then, Scriptural passages are used selectively.

    For example, those who justify racial segregation on Scriptural grounds often do so on the grounds of an alleged Biblical mandate. They argue that "God himself has separated the races" (a) by geographical barriers (Acts 17:26), (b) by differences in color and other racial characteristics (Gen 10:5, 32; 11:1-9), (c) by His blessings and curse on son of Noah (Gen 9:24-27), and (d) by His notable example of making Israel separate from all other races—forbidding intermarriage of Israelites with others (Gen 24:3-4; 28:1; Deut 7:1-3, 6; Josh 23:12-13; Ezra 9:1-2, 10-12; 1 Kings 8:53; Exod 33:16). But in actual fact, none of these prohibitions are grounded on race. [8]

    Doctrine of Creation. The Bible's teaching of the biological unity and racial parity of all people is established by its doctrine of creation. When, for example, Paul declared that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26), his statement emphasizes two important facts: “On one hand, the entire creation is unified in the One God. On the other hand, biological unity is affirmed, for all men are of one blood.” [9]

    Commenting on this text, Ellen White wrote: “In the sight of God all are on an equality; and to the Creator every human being owes supreme allegiance.” [10] The biblical doctrine of the seventh-day Sabbath is an eternal witness to God as Creator (Exod 20:8-11), and hence, the reason why He alone is worthy of our worship (Rev 14:6, 7). The religion of racism, however, denies this biblical doctrine of creation by (1) challenging the character of God as a perfect Creator; (2) inverting the order in creation; and (3) undermining the nature of creation.

    The Genesis creation account states that at the conclusion of each phase of God's creative activity, God Himself declared His creation as good. Racism's teaching of the genetic or ontological inferiority of some races not only negates this biblical teaching of a perfect creation from the hands of God, but it also affronts the character of God. For if part of God's original creation is inherently defective, it implies that God is no better than the Demiurge of second century Gnosticism, an imperfect creator god who is responsible for introducing error into his creation.

    Also, by teaching the supremacy of a race, and hence the domination of one by another, racist theology sets itself against the biblical teaching about the order in creation. This racist teaching implies that some races of human beings belong to the natural order; they are not part of the human family to whom was entrusted the responsibility of having dominion over the created things (Gen 1:26). One theologian has correctly argued that the racist understanding of man involves “an inversion of the very order of creation,” and runs “directly counter to the divine purpose of grace upon which the whole creation depends.” [11]

    Finally, by teaching that his own race is superior to all others, the racist seeks “to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Rom 12:3). It is self-glorification or self-religion—the worship of “the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:25). [12]

    Thus, racism is the highest form of self-deification. The fact that God's judgment—in the form of guilt, frustration, hostility, etc.—is being visited on the human race is an indication that God will not remain silent when people “exchange the truth of God for a lie” and worship the creature rather than the Creator.

    Doctrine of Human Beings. The Bible teaches that human beings were created in God's image. Not only do they possess intrinsic value or equal worth before God, but they are also endowed with the power of choice. As the Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief, #7 puts it, “man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. . . .”

    Because they have the power of choice, human beings are free moral agents, in the sense that “they make their own decisions as to what they will do, choosing as they please in the light of their sense of right and wrong and the inclinations they feel” and as such they are “answerable to God and each other for their voluntary choices.” [13]

    Racism, however challenges this important biblical doctrine. Its naturalistic teaching of the inherent superiority and inferiority of the races implies a certain kind of biological or genetic determinism.

    According to this religion of racism belief, if a person succeeds or fails in a particular field of study (e.g., athletic sport or academics) it is because that person has been “predestined” by his/her genes to succeed or fail. What a person does, or what he/she becomes is biologically predetermined or built into him/her at conception. In other words, a person's personhood or moral worth, or lack of it, is determined by his or her hereditary endowment.

    Whenever we make stereotypical comments alleging that Asians/Blacks/Hispanics/Jews/Whites “are by nature ________” or whenever, we try to distance our selves from people of other races because “there's something about them that is repulsive to me,” these attitudes and statements are echoes of the naturalistic world view upon which the biological determinism of racism is founded.

    Biological determinism is not only pseudoscientific, it is also pessimistic, in that it puts limits on human performance and potential. Moreover, this doctrine of racism is dangerously fatalistic in its suggestion that a particular race cannot transcend the artificial barrier that has been erected upon them by racist theology. If this doctrine of racist theology were true, there would be no human accountability of the actions of people, and there would also be no basis for divine judgment for human conduct, but the latter is a primary teaching of the Bible (Acts 17:31; Rev 14:6, etc.).

    Doctrine of the Fall and Sin. The Bible teaches that, although human beings were created perfect, as a consequence of Adam's fall “all [including the so-called superior race] have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23; 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22). The Seventh-day Adventist Statement of Belief (7) reads:
When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil . . . . [14]

    In so far as a fallen human being makes himself or some collective projection of himself the object of love and value, the racist faith denies a fall for the superior race, and therefore denies the biblical doctrine of original sin—universal sin originating from Adam.

    Even if racist theology admits that the superior race has also fallen, it has to reinterpret the nature of the fall in order to be true to its racist doctrine of an inferior/superior race. Thus, for example, the doctrine that some human beings are defective in their very being implies that the so-called inferior races have experienced a double-fall—the first being due to the fall of Adam, and the second, a special racial fall. Alternatively, since, to the racist, the loss of racial purity and race-mixing is a sin against the Creator, [15]  racist theology has to teach that, the superior race experiences a fall whenever it allows its blood to mix with the inferior race. [16]

    The Bible does not teach such a doctrine. For if it were true, (1) the superior race would have no need for the atonement of Jesus Christ, since it does not accept its fallen condition, and (2) the inferior race would have no hope of redemption since it would need a second sacrifice of Jesus to atone for their second racial fall. Ultimately, the racist doctrine of the fall is an affront to the character of God.

    The Doctrine of the Great Controversy. The Bible teaches that there exists a great controversy between Christ and His people on one hand, and Satan and his people on the other (Eph 6:10ff). In this cosmic conflict the issue centers upon the character of God, as is reflected in the sinless life of the incarnate Christ and expressed in the moral Ten-Commandment Law. [17]

    The religion of racism also acknowledges that there is a cosmic conflict between two major forces. However, it challenges the biblical teaching by redefining the participants in the conflict along racial lines.

    Thus, when racists talk about the great controversy in the supernatural realm, they recast God and His angels in the image of the superior race. And they perceive Satan and his evil angels as the essence of the inferior race. Racists concept of the great controversy is simply an amplification of a race war on earth.

    And when racists bring this cosmic war or dualism into the natural realm, they create a “We versus Them” dichotomy among people. In the context of black/white racism, even non-human objects are assigned to their black and white spheres (e. g., black sheep, black market, black list), and personal problems between people of different races are recast along racial lines. There are even different colors for sin as, for example, white lies, blue-collar crimes, etc.

    Racists accept as an a priori truth that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the races, and that there is a cosmic conflict between them in which each individual is expected to stand up for his or her kind. [18] In this kind of dualism, racial harmony, according to racist theology, is ensured when members of the different races know “their place” in society. In other words, to avoid conflict the two worlds must be kept apart, separated or segregated (in housing, jobs, churches, or marriage). Racism believes that the different races must live their lives apart from each other as if the other does not exist. [19]

    Thus, Christians who are racists can live in the same town or city, without ever visiting the home of another race, attending their church, or school. In the context of the race-based conferences in North America, racists may belong to the same Union, but hardly be aware of the existence of the other Conference. Out of sight means out of mind. And when the other race comes to the racist's church, the racist Christian will politely suggest: “there is another church over there where you will feel more comfortable.” Furthermore, the racist minister make no efforts to evangelize other races in his area. Even when a member of the despised race seeks membership in his church, the minister will piously transfer the new member to a congregation next door that belongs to the despised race.

    Writes an Adventist sociologist:
It is a well-documented reality across a broad range of institutions in American society that most Whites leave when the percentage of Blacks exceeds 25 percent. Almost all of the integration that has taken place within the North American church has been in one direction: Black Adventists joining predominantly White congregations. How many Adventist churches, Black or White, would welcome a minister of a different race? [20]

    Whenever we attempt to regulate the growing numbers of certain ethnic groups in our communities, churches, or institutions, and whenever we resort to race flight when other races join our church, we are simply putting in practice a key doctrine of the racist faith.

    Philosophy of History. In the Bible's view, all of history unfolds under God's planning and direction. This is because it was God who brought creation into being to be the “arena of history”; He also created time to measure the “movement of history” and He formed the human being to be an “entity inhabiting history.” [21] Thus, history always proceeds under God's divine sovereignty. Ellen G. White captures this God-centered (or theocentric) view of history in this way:

In the annals of human history the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as dependent on the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will. [22]

    The religion of racism, however, overthrows this biblical view of history. In this religion, the superior race, not God, is the center of human history. And the forces which shape history are the polar opposites of races–the clash between the superior and inferior races.

    The view in racism is similar to that in the secular religion of communism. But whereas, in communism, economic forces (or substructure) are believed to create the proletariat and bourgeois social classes, and whereas the clash between the two becomes the basis for the interpretation of the meaning of history, in the religion of racism, the shaping forces of history are determined by genetic (not economic) forces. Also, because in the racist religion it is only “one race [the superior race that] has carried progress throughout human history and can alone ensure future progress,” [23] meaningful history is that which is associated with the superior race. Unless the superior race is involved somehow in an event, there is no history.

    Thus, for example, the racist not only ignores, discounts, or distorts the histories of other races, but also, will not want to listen or learn from other races. After all, the only history worth recording or paying attention to is the history of, or the history interpreted by, the superior race. [24]

    While racism cannot be blamed for every failure to recognize the contributions and potentials of people of color, one may wonder if racial arrogance plays no part in the Christian Church's seeming unwillingness to give equal opportunity and recognition to Christians of all races in the theological, missiological and administrative activities of the church's life?

    A recapture of the true biblical conception of God's leading in history (cf. Acts 11:17) can correct the pervasive spirit that is actuated by racism's morality of pride and contempt for the other race when it comes to the Church's life and work.

    Value of Human Life.
Christianity's ethic of race relations is predicated on the belief in the “sanctity of human life”—the belief that since human beings were created in the image of God, all human lives have equal value and worth, and should, therefore, be treated with respect and dignity. Thus, the commandment, “Thou shall not kill,” applies to all human life, regardless of any external characteristics.

    Racism, however, upholds the quality of human life doctrine. This belief maintains that since the personhood of human beings is supposedly determined by their biological or genetic characteristics, some human lives have only a relative value.

    According to the quality-of-human-life ethic (also known as utilitarianism or situation ethics), [25] since some human beings are not true persons, where necessary (i.e. to enhance the quality of life of the superior persons), they may be exploited and even killed.

    The institution of slavery in the United States is one classic example of racism's “quality-of-human-life” ethic. Thus, in 1857 the US Supreme Court ruled, in the Dred Scott case, that the Black race was less than human and that a slave could be treated as the personal property of the owner. Chief Justice Roger Taney (himself a slave owner) argued:
They [Blacks] had for more than a century been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. [26]

    The quality-of-human-life ethic which the religion of racism embraces leads to a devaluation of human life. By dying on the cross for them, the God of Christianity paid a high price in order to elevate human beings. But the racist faith seeks to dehumanize them for profit.

    Doctrine of Redemption. Biblical Christianity teaches that the redemption of the human race, secured once and for all by Jesus Christ through His substitutionary atonement on Calvary, will be ushered in at His second coming (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess 4:14ff.; 2 Pet 3) and be consummated in the earth made new (Rev 21). In other words, the redemption of the human race is a divine act graciously extended to all—Jews and Gentiles—who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

    However, in the religion of racism, since the Fall means racial impoverishment, the mixing of the blood of the superior race with that of inferior, “the essence of redemption is racial renewal, the revivification of the superior race by techniques of purification.” [27] In other words, racist theology teaches that human beings (the super-race) can effect their own redemption. This doctrine that has led to the subordination, oppression, deprivation and extermination of the alleged inferior races (Blacks, Jews, poor, mentally ill, deformed, weak, criminals, etc.). The belief flows out of racism's mechanistic doctrine of human nature.

    Given its belief in biological or genetic determinism, the reasoning of racists regarding the future hope (eschatology) may go somewhat like this: Since changing the environment cannot change behavior, the superior race must take steps to protect itself and its superior genes from being diminished by members of the inferior race. When this kind of reasoning is adopted as a social policy, it leads to a delimitation, degradation, and dehumanization of some races.

    In the legal racism of Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, for example, this doctrine led to the promulgation of laws that curtail the freedom of movement, or rights of property, or citizenship, or freedom of marriage, and in some extreme cases, collection, or “concentration” of the inferior races and, perhaps, the ultimate or final solution to ensure permanent protection of the superior race. For if some races are inherently superior and others inferior, the superior race must be bred and the inferior race must be eliminated.

    Charles Darwin is often cited for laying the scientific foundation for this aspect of the racist faith. The second half of the title of Darwin's famous book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Survival of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, was understood by some to justify the extermination of people of other races. [28] However, Friedrich Nietzsche was a more blatant advocate of “the survival of favored races in the struggle for life.” Nietzsche is widely believed to have provided Hitler with a philosophical justification for his “final solution” to the problem of inferior races. [29]

    The racist doctrine of redemption ultimately leads to the extermination of inferior races. It is this belief that Ruth Benedict has in mind when she defines racism's second dogma as a belief that “the hope of civilization depends upon eliminating some races and keeping others pure.” [30]

    In pursuing racism's future (eschatological) dream, a number of techniques have been used over the years. These range from race improvement techniques (such as psychological motivation or group affirmation of self, or identity seminars) to “scientific” programs of social engineering like positive and negative eugenics. The eminent English scientist, Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin is credited with proposing in 1883 a new science--eugenics (from the Greek, meaning "good in birth" or "noble in heredity")—which aimed at ensuring that the best of human stock survived. As explained by D. J. Kevles, in his book In the Name of Eugenics, this new science was intended to give "the more suitable race or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable." [31]

    Positive eugenics involves the multiplication of the superior race by careful selection and breeding of people possessing superior genes. This is one reason why racists do not encourage inter-racial marriage. Such marriages allegedly taint the pure blood of the racist.

    Negative eugenics, on the other hand, may take several forms, including efforts that prevent procreation by inferior races (e.g., by using contraceptives, sterilization, etc.), and those involving ethnic or racial cleansing or the elimination of the unwanted inferior race (whether it is by warfare, lynching, eugenic-abortions, euthanasia, or even nuclear experimentation).


    The forgoing discussion has outlined the belief system of the secular religion called racism. On the fundamental question of how to know truth, a study philosophers call epistemology, racists believe you have to be part of their group in order to fully understand the truth about reality. In this regard, racism is no different from gay and feminist ideologies, both of which also maintain that a person must be part of the in-group (i.e., be born a homosexual or a woman) in order to gain an accurate knowledge about a situation.

    Racism’s religious faith denies the biblical doctrine of creation by questioning the character of God in creating all races and declaring them all as good. Not only does it undermine the nature of creation, but also its teaching of the supremacy of a race inverts the order in creation by maintaining that some races of human beings belong to the natural order and are, thus, not a part of the human family. In questioning God’s creation order and intent, racism shares the basic framework of feminism’s egalitarian ideology which repudiates male-female role distinctions (the biblical doctrine of headship) as a consequence of the Fall, rather than a part of God’s original creation. Whereas racism errs, saying God created inequality of race at creation, feminism errs when, in the name of equality, it decries God’s creational order regarding gender role-distinctions in the home and in the church.

    Racism’s doctrine of the great controversy is the basis of its practice of racial segregation and all race based facilities and institutions. Racism’s philosophy of history makes the superior race the center of history, and gives credibility to the practice of ignoring, discounting, or distorting the history and contributions of people of other races. Racism’s quality of human life ethic allows racist to treat other human beings not as true persons, but as things to be exploited for profit. And racism’s doctrine of redemption provides the theological foundation for the delimitation, degradation, dehumanization, and ultimate destruction of people deemed inferior.

    It should now be clear that racism, in whatever form it may appear, is indeed antithetical to biblical religion. If this is the case, then Bible-believing Christians—individuals who have been saved by grace and are seeking to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ—cannot accept this secular religion. To do so is to deny the biblical faith.


[1]    One notable exception is George D. Kelsey, Racism and the Christian Understanding of Man. To my knowledge, this work, to which I am indebted for insights expressed in this chapter, is probably the most detailed analysis of racism as a faith system.

[2]    For a helpful discussion of the nature, characteristics, and types of religion, see Elizabeth K. Nottingham, Religion and Society (New York: Random House, 1954), 1-11. Our analysis, in this section, of racism as a religion builds upon this work by Nottingham.

[3]    The following are adapted from the comparison between Christianity and Communism, provided by Richard J. Gehman, African Traditional Religion in Biblical Perspective (Kijabe, Kenya: Kesho Publications, 1989), 38.

[4]    The Frenchman, Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, is recognized as the "Father of Modern Racism" and one of the first contributors to the science of racism (see Bruno Leone, ed., Racism: Opposing Viewpoints, 207; Michael D. Biddiss, Father of Racist Ideology: The Social and Political Thought of Count Gobineau [New York: Weybright and Talley, 1970]). Gobineau used the word Aryan, a word that had been used by linguistic scholars for a number of related languages, including German and Latin) to denote a supreme and original white race. David A. Rausch, A Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must Not Forget the Holocaust, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990), 34-35, summarizes Gobineau's views on race: “Gobineau claimed that race was the determining factor in the rise and fall of civilizations, postulating a hierarchy of humanity ranging from the superior white race to the inferior black race. Racial mixing had brought decline to the Latin and Semitic peoples, whereas Aryan Germans—the western Germanic tribes—held the key to a successful human destiny. These powerful people, he said, could be brought down only by the degenerative effect of race mixing” (cf. Biddiss, 112-121). Building on the work of Gobineau, Adolf Hitler articulated in his Mein Kampf, "a book that became the bible of the Nazi movement in Germany," why the Aryan race was superior to all others (see Racism: Opposing Viewpoints, 211).

[5]    Patriotic citizens of various nations handle their flags with reverential awe. For example, reading through the U.S. Flag Code, adopted in 1923 and which prescribes the following rules for proper handling of the flag, one gets the impression that the flag is a religious object of worship : (1) Always display the flag with the blue union field up; never display the flag upside down, except as a distress signal. (2) Always hold the flag carefully; never let it touch anything beneath it: the ground, the floor, water or merchandise. (3) Always carry the flag aloft and free; never carry it flat or horizontally. (4) Always keep the flag clean and safe; never let it become torn, soiled or damaged. (5) Always dispose of a flag properly; it should be destroyed by burning it in a dignified manner. (6) Always treat the flag with respect; never embroider it on household items or pieces of clothing. See "Our Flag: How to Honor and Display It," available through the National Flag Foundation, Flag Plaza, Dept. A., Pittsburgh, PA 15219-3630. Or review it on the web site:

[6]    The naturalistic world view is built on the assumption that nothing exists outside the material mechanical natural order. This world view was "born in the eighteenth century, it came of age in the nineteenth and grew to maturity in the twentieth" (see James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door [Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1988], 82). According to Ronald Nash, the naturalistic world view offers "the major competition" to the Christian world view ( Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992], 116). For a discussion of how a world view shapes a person's lifestyle, see Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, "Contemporary Culture and Christian Lifestyle: A Clash of Worldviews," Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 4 (Spring 1993): 129-150.

[7]    Ruth Benedict, Race: Science and Politics (New York: Viking Press, 1959), 98.

[8]    For a discussion of some of the texts used to justify racism, see Cain Hope Felder, "Race, Racism and the Biblical Narratives," in Stony the Road We Trod, ed. Cain Hope Felder, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991), 127-145; T. B. Maston, The Bible and Race, 105-117; Douglas Bax, “The Bible and Apartheid [Part] 2,” in Apartheid Is a Heresy, 112-143.

[9]    Talbert O. Shaw, "Racism and Adventist Theology," Spectrum 3:4 (Autumn 1971): 33.

[10]    Ellen G. White, The Acts of Apostles (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1911), 238.

[11]    T. F. Torrance, Calvin's Doctrine of Man (London: Lutherworth Press, 1949), 24.

[12]    "From the standpoint of classical Christian thought, of course, racial prejudice is not one of a catalogue of sins, but is a facet or expression of the single sin of pride, the rejection of the Infinite Sovereign Source of life and the attempt to set up as final some substitute sovereignty derived from the finite. Insofar as fallen man tends to make of himself or some collective projection of himself the center of love and value. Racial pride within and discriminatory practices are one ready way among many to ‘exchange the truth of God for a lie,' and to worship the creature rather than the Creator." See Waldo Beach, "A Theological Analysis of Race Relations," in Faith and Ethics, 211.

[13]    James I. Packer, Concise Theology (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 85.

[14]    SDA Fundamental Belief 7; for the full statement and a discussion of Adventists understanding of the fall, see Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . : A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Washington D.C.: Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1988),  78-96.

[15]    Hitler, Mein Kampf, 392-393.

[16]    Hitler maintains that whereas everything in the world can be improved as long as the blood remains preserved in its purity, "Alone the loss of the purity of blood destroys the inner happiness forever; it eternally lowers man, and never again can its consequences be removed from body and mind" (Hitler, Mein Kampf, 452). Lothrop Stoddard concurs: "Racial impoverishment is the plague of civilization"; it is a "hideous disease" that has reduced "the proudest societies to charred and squalid ruin" (Stoddard, The Revolt against Civilization [New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1922], 88).

[17]    See Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . , 98-105, for a summary discussion of "the great controversy" doctrine. For a more detailed and theological discussion of the theme, see the five volume Conflict of the Ages series by Ellen G. White [Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, Desire of Ages, Acts of the Apostles, and the Great Controversy] (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1890-1917). The implication of "the great controversy" doctrine for ethics can be found in my "Contemporary Culture and Christian Lifestyle," 143-147, see footnote #41.

[18]    Lewis C. Copeland, "The Negro as a Contrast Conception," in Edgar T. Thompson, ed., Race Relations and the Race Problem (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), 168.

[19]    Racial segregation must be distinguished from various forms of voluntary segregation or separation, that are functionally necessary to accomplish a task. For example, there may be nothing wrong when churches are organized for groups that cannot understand a particular dominant language. "[Racial] Segregation is born in hatred, fear, pride, and contempt. It knows nothing of love and does not aim at the general well-being; it is inspired by the spirit of pride and hostility, generated by the racist faith. Segregation is anticommunity. It is the structured will to deprive and reduce the life of the other. The appointed ‘place' of the other is below, and the functions of the other are the structured servilities of society" (Kelsey, 98).

[20]    David Williams, “The Right Thing To Do,” Adventist Review, February 20, 1997, 26.

[21]    Gerhard Maier, Biblical Hermeneutics, trans. Robert W. Yarbrough (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), 23.

[22]    Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1903), 173.

[23]    Benedict, Race: Science and Politics, 98; thus, Joseph Gobineau, the "Father of Modern Racism," argues that history "shows us that all civilizations derive from the white race, that none can exist without its help, and that a society is great and brilliant only so far as it preserves the blood of the noble group that created it, provided that this group itself belongs to the most illustrious branch of our species" (see Bruno Leone, Racism: Opposing Views, 13, 210).

[24]    For an example of Eurocentric and Afrocentric reinterpretations of history, see Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 102-147.

[25]    Joseph Fletcher is a leading proponent of this quality of life ethic. See his Humanhood: Essays in Biomedical Ethics (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1979), 12-18, where he provides fifteen positive and five negative criteria for measuring the quality of one's life and whether a person achieved humanhood; elsewhere, Fletcher reduces the criteria to "four indicators" (see his "Four Indicators of Humanhood—The Enquiry Matures," The Hastings Center Report 4, no. 6 (December 1974): 4-7.

[26]    Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 at 404. A detailed discussion of the Dred Scott decision is found in Curt Young, The Least of These (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984), 1-20; see also Richard Fredericks, "Who Deserves to Live?: Toward an Ethic of Compassion," Signs of the Times, April 1990, 3-5.

[27]    Kelsey, 162.

[28]    See, for example, Barzun, Race: A Study in Superstition, 47-48.

[29]    Refer to Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1931), 41-60.

[30]    Benedict, Race: Science and Politics, 98.

[31]    D. J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics (New York: Knopf, 1985), ix,