In my role as news editor at Charisma magazine, I’ve been grieved by many of the responses to the George Zimmerman verdict. But the accusation that God is a racist sent me into intercession for a woman with an impressive string of credentials in the world of Christianity—but seemingly devoid of a revelation of God's love.
I intentionally didn’t add my voice to the Zimmerman verdict mix—until I read about this Ivy League professor’s blog post casting the hateful darkness of racism on God. This perspective likely comes out of Professor Anthea Butler’s personal and painful experiences with racism.
I can’t possibly understand that pain. But God can.
That’s why I pray Butler will come to know God for who He really is and repent of statements like this one:
“God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in a nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god. 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.”
Grieving my spirit is not a strong enough phrase to describe how this accusation against God impacts me. Yes, it bothers me that she’s maligning a God who loves her. And beyond that, it saddens me that her life experience has been such that she has drawn this conclusion about a God who loves her passionately. It also grieves me that Butler may not be the only one who feels this way. She is voicing an accusation that others may be thinking but don’t have the platform to utter.
And it gets worse. Butler, author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, went to ask, “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?"
After receiving some nasty backlash (which I find inappropriate against a woman who seems to be writing out of a wounded soul), Butler defended her post, noting the difference between the big “G” God as deity and the little “g” god, referring to different kinds of gods. But she negated the difference when she told The Huffington Post that her statements were “especially touchy for [conservative Christians] because I hit on some things that are kind of true."
But nothing she is saying about God is true. Not in the least.
More than that, Butler used the capital “G” when she said, “God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us,” and when she asked, “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?"
There’s no skirting the fact that the associate professor of religious studies and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania (and Fuller Theological Seminary graduate) with a long list of credentials has serious misperceptions of God.
God is good all of the time (Ps. 136:1; Nahum 1:7). And God is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:28-31). I could go on and on about the love of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, the kindness of God. God is not a racist.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. William Lane Craig, a Christian philosopher, theologian and founder of ReasonableFaith.org, says Butler is anthropomorphizing political and social situations into theology, which is simply ludicrous on many levels.
“Professor Butler seems to believe in a theology of divine oppression, where God doesn’t liberate a people but instead oppresses them,” Craig says. “This train of thought is flawed—it goes against theology by positioning God as an antagonist working against human progress, which is just not the case.”
What happened to Trayvon Martin was tragic. Many people are hurting. But we can’t blame God for any of it. And we shouldn’t be exploiting this tragedy to stir strife or to forward an agenda. The world is watching how the church is responding, and, sadly, painting God with a hateful brush of racism is adding to the problem. God is not a racist.
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at [email protected]
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