‘The ideology espoused by white supremacists in the US and in Europe is rooted in Christian ideas of social and religious hierarchy’
A professor at a Catholic university believes that Christianity, going back to St. Paul the Apostle, is to blame for racism and antisemitism to this day.
Fordham University Professor Magda Teter’s new book titled “Christian Supremacy” came out today. The book provides “a profound reckoning with history that traces the roots of the modern rejection of Jewish and Black equality to an enduring Christian heritage of exclusion, intolerance, and persecution,” according to its description.
“The ideology espoused by white supremacists in the US and in Europe is rooted in Christian ideas of social and religious hierarchy,” Professor Teter (pictured) wrote in the book, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “These ideas developed, gradually, first in the Mediterranean and Europe in respect to Jews and then in respect to people of color in European colonies and in the US, before returning transformed back to Europe.”
Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported:
In the book, subtitled “Reckoning with the Roots of Antisemitism and Racism,” she traces this idea from the writings of the early church fathers like Paul the Apostle, though centuries of Catholic and Protestant debates over the status of Jews in Europe, to the hardening of racist attitudes with the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Teter also connected Christianity to the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia who marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying tiki torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
Even neo-Nazis and actual Nazis who are not actually Christian can be linked to Christian theology, the professor argued.
JTA asked Teter if “modern-day white supremacists, like the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys, see themselves as Christians” and if “this [is] a kind of white supremacy that doesn’t name itself Christian but doesn’t even realize how many of its ideas are based in theology.”
“I think they might not be conscious of this legacy, but neo-Nazis take from the legacy of the Nazis who themselves were not thinking of themselves as Christian necessarily,” she said. “But what I argue in the book is that white Christian supremacy becomes white supremacy. It never discards the Christian sense of domination and superiority that emerges from its early relationship with Jews and Judaism.”
In the United States, Black people serve as contrast figures to whiteness, in the law and in the culture. You cannot have whiteness without Blackness. For Christians, Jews serve as that contrast figure. Consciously or unconsciously, the Proud Boys are embracing that. They talk of “God-given” freedoms for white people. That is the Christian legacy.
Teter wants to see theologians address the “dynamics of power” as a result of reading the new book.
Teter told JTA that “maybe theologians will begin to grapple with this legacy of superiority and domination, and the way hierarchical habits of thinking have been developed through theology and through religious culture.”
The professor also said that “white supremacy” remains “in the air.”
“We need to speak up against it, and make connections and allyships,” the professor said.
“I hope that maybe because the book deals with law and power, it may create bridges among people who care about ‘We the People’ as a vision of people who are diverse, respectful and equal, and not the exclusionary vision offered by white and Christian supremacy.”
IMAGES: Rembrandt/Public Domain; Fordham University