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White Savior: Racism in the American Church (2019)White Savior: Racism in the American Church (2019)

This one-hour documentary, which would be an excellent church resource, tells an important story, and even though we have heard this story before, it's an important one that bears repeating — namely, the 500-year complicity of the American church with institutional racism. Recall that the first African slaves were brought to what's now the United States by Spanish explorers in 1526, to a settlement in present-day South Carolina. Or consider the painting by Warner Sallman, The Head of Christ (1940) — Jesus with flowing blond hair and saccharine blue eyes. Sallman's Jesus, reproduced 500 million times according to one estimate, stares into space. He's clean, safe, passive, and effeminate, which is perhaps why white Christians have plastered this image in many a child's Sunday school room. The movie proceeds through seven "chapters": definition(s) of race, the Bible and race, anti-blackness in the US, erasing native voices, "intersectionality" of oppression, Christianity in black and white, and the problem of reconciliation. The film explores specifically Christian racism against the larger cultural landscape of legal precedents like Jim Crow laws, economic policies like red lining, pseudo-scientific beliefs about race, political narratives, and cultural assumptions. In the end, it pushes us beyond fear, ignorance, apathy, fatalism, and un-examined biases. I watched this film on Amazon Prime Video.

Dan Clendenin:

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