…does it really matter? For some Americans — yes, it does matter; however, for others — it does not. Black Americans are going through a religious transformation, one predicated on class; a topic I will continue to blog about.
Jesus Christ has been portrayed in a number of ways and by a number of groups. As religious scholar Stephen Prothero noted in his American Jesus: There is a Jesus Christ in all of us, regardless if one is a believer or non-believer. Jesus is ubiquitous in American culture, as seen and/or heard in movies, art work, and musical lyrics. I recall a post written on this blog by Turner Batdorf, in which he noted how Family Guy uses religion to drive its point: “One of Family Guy’s biggest targets is American Protestantism and the values that the average American calls American values, despite its Puritan origin. Family Guy’s approach to Protestantism is simple: to make God and Jesus look as silly and ridiculous as possible…. On a consistent basis, Family Guy portrays God as a womanizer, a drunk, and someone not able to control his powers.”
Though the American landscape has become keenly aware of the comical nature of Jesus, it still struggles at times with the more complex avenues of who is God, as painted by academicians. The question of race and God is cemented among the most divisive topics. I recall once a conversation by a white female who stated how disappointed she would be to die and find out that God is black. In an earlier post, I noted historian Edward Blum’s Jesus — as depicted by W.E.B Du Bois. I wrote that Blum discusses the Gospel according to Mary Brown and her child Joshua, who represent one of Du Bois’s black biblical characters who found comfort among those who were societal outcasts. He, who was [the black] Jesus Christ, marched with the poor, with sinners, and communists; however, this Christ was not embraced by whites. Better yet, this Christ was lynched by the white South because they could not accept a Christ that accepted all people, especially the American Negro. Because of this, Joshua was killed by the very people who awaited him – the Christian South. I often wonder about the thought processes of religious bigots who believe their God will accept them into His kingdom as a hater of people. I suspect many Christians do not realize they are destined to the one place they are trying to avoid, Hell. Furthermore, much of the historical literature paints a deeply racist American South in which Christians often attend Church in the morning, only to lynch blacks in the evening.
As noted by Prothero, Americans have their own image of God. That became clear when Morgan Freeman portrayed God in the hit movie Bruce Almighty. According to a New York Times article:
At this point, there’s a little bit of God in everything Freeman does. It’s as if he has transcended race by transcending human frailty. He seems less like an actor and more like an emissary from some higher, more decorous plane, which makes him the ideal host for a show like “Through the Wormhole,” a brisk and accessible primer on the various ways that today’s way-out-there science is becoming indistinguishable from science fiction.
Though not all Americans embrace the notion of a black God, it has been noted that many white Americans believe Morgan Freeman is God. This clearly supports what the NY Times article stated: Regardless of race, Freeman transcends race in a way that very few can. For most people, God has long been this old white-haired man with a long white beard. But that image has shifted. God is now Morgan Freeman; he is the first image that comes to mind when one ponders the image of God. Thus, God is not black, white, Asian, or Hispanic. This simply means I must revise the title of this post to God is not Black. God is Morgan Freeman, an actor who has been able to transcend race. Freeman makes us forget about race.