White Christian says Jesus wasn’t white, Christianity needs to be ‘decolonised’
A post by Nigel Branken, who decided to move his family to one of SA's most crime-ridden spots, gave his friends pause for thought on Friday.
Nigel Branken with his family in Hillbrow. Picture: Twitter
Social activist Nigel Branken took to Facebook on Friday morning to explain that he had been giving a lot of thought to the origins and current practice of Christianity.
Branken is well known for involving himself and his wife in what he thinks of as a social experiment in “good-neighbourliness”. He and wife Trish Branken, together with their six children, left their six-bedroom home in a gated community in Midrand to move to the notorious inner-city suburb of Hillbrow in Johannesburg, where they have lived since May 2012 in a three-bedroom apartment.
They did this to “stand in solidarity with those facing extreme poverty,” Branken has explained.
Writing on Friday morning, Branken, himself a Christian, says that his religion needs to be “decolonised”. He argues that Christianity is “not a white man’s religion”, and that “every word written in the Bible was written by an oppressed person who was currently being oppressed at the time of writing it”.
Branken argues that “whiteness” “captured” the religion and “colonised it”, and thus the religion needs decolonisation.
“The white Jesus we see portrayed in the media is a construct of Empire. Not one word of the Bible was written by a white person. In fact, not one white person is mentioned in the Bible (except perhaps if you can call Caesar and Herod white). This is not a white man’s religion, but whiteness has captured it, colonised it and beaten it into it’s own image. Empire took the good news of liberation of the captives, and somehow made it about dominion by a few of the majority.
“The political and social construct of whiteness was ‘invented’ in order to establish a hierarchy of domination to determine who could exercise dominion over whom. In order to do so, whiteness dehumanizes and devalues. This is contrary to the very good gospel, and yet we see patriarchy and racism prevalent in the church.
“The foundations of my faith have been shaped by a Christianity wrapped up in Empire. Readings and understandings of texts have been interpreted in the best interests of the rich and powerful. The Jesus narrative has been so perverted that to read Jesus’s words and actually put them into practice is seen as radical.”
In his full post, he offered his thoughts and advice on how decolonising his religion could be achieved.
In response, Peter Nickles wrote: “This will take some digesting.”
Wayne Eaves asked: “Is the decolonisation process the next reformation?”
Branken, however, mostly received a lot of support from his friends for his sentiments.
Jana Niehaus told him: This is a great conversation! Great to hear people critically engaging with the stuff! Such thoughtful and thought-provoking contributions…thanks