Penn Prof Calls God a “White Racist,” Somehow Stirs Anger
Anthea Butler, a professor of religious and Africana studies, penned an op-ed in the online magazine Religious Dispatch in which she decried Americans’ conception of god as inherently racist.
“God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us,” she wrote. “As a matter of fact, I think he’s a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.”
She went on to write that racism in American history is caused by the United States’ relationship with Christianity, and that accused murderer George Zimmerman’s defense that it was “God’s plan” for him to shoot Martin was indicative of how religion is used to perpetuate racism.
Here’s her essay. An excerpt:
When George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that it was God’s will that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, he was diving right into what most good conservative Christians in America think right now. Whatever makes them protected, safe, and secure, is worth it at the expense of the black and brown people they fear.
Their god is the god that wants to erase race, make everyone act “properly” and respect, as the president said, “a nation of laws”; laws that they made to crush those they consider inferior.
When the laws were never made for people who were considered, constitutionally, to be three-fifths of a person, I have to ask: Is this just? Is it right? Is God the old white male racist looking down from white heaven, ready to bless me if I just believe the white men like Rick Perry who say the Zimmerman case has nothing to do with race?
You already know the answer: No.
American Christians must take on the difficult work of understanding how whiteness has been woven like a cancer into their Christianity. It is the power of that whiteness to shape our social worlds—defining good and bad, beautiful and ugly, true and false—that is at heart the reason this wound will not heal. It is the reason why some people deny our grotesque racial history even as it stares them in the face with the case of George Zimmerman.
Josiah Ryan, editor-in-chief of Campus Reform, which first reported Butler’s comments, said the professor’s reaction to the verdict was bizarre.
“No amount of heartbreak over the Zimmerman acquittal justifies these hateful posts,” Ryan said. “Professor Butler’s remarks were clearly designed to hurt when Americans needed healing and to divide when we needed unity.”
“In tumultuous times students must be able turn to their professors for calm and wisdom. In stoking the flames of hatred, Professor Butler has betrayed her students’ trust. UPenn administrators ought not to allow her back in the classroom.”
The Pennsylvanian adds:
“In keeping with the values of academic freedom at the heart of our university, professors are entitled to participate in the free exchange of ideas and in political exchanges outside the classroom,” Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen said in a statement, noting that faculty members’ opinions do not necessarily represent those of the University. “Whether or not we agree with the positions expressed, we support free expression and the free exchange of ideas as essential elements of a great university.”