"Can you imagine a white congregation kneeling for a black Jesus?"

27 June 2020, 15:38

By Seán Hickey

In a compelling conversation, a member of the Black Pentecostal Church showed listeners why there is a need for conversations on systemic racism.

Amid the Archbishop of Canterbury's plan to begin an audit on Church of England statues, Maajid Nawaz began a conversation on the depiction of Jesus in churches in Europe. He started the debate by arguing that statues showing Jesus to be white are inaccurate, yet, to alter such images would cause fury and outrage.

Paul, a leader in the Black Pentecostal Church phoned in to Maajid to speak to him about the need for the debate and how vital the conversation is in order for people to understand the wider reasons for anti-racism protests.

The caller gave Maajid an apt image, asking him to "imagine a white congregation kneeling in front of a black Jesus" and why that is a problematic image for many.

Maajid understood Paul's argument immediately and when he went further to state that "if you cleaned everything" out of churches and put black figures in which is the argument of many on the extreme end of the debate, Maajid admitted there would be riots.

Paul pleaded with listeners to ask "why you yourself would be devastated" by such a revolution. Although for the sake of being historically accurate, such drastic measures would not necessarily fix the issue of systemic racism in the UK.

The Archbishop of Canterbury announced an audit of statues in churches
The Archbishop of Canterbury announced an audit of statues in churches. Picture: PA

Paul argued along with his initial point that "you shouldn't have a false image of Jesus" as the bible says, which should be the start of the debate in the Church of England's audit.

Paul ended the conversation by speaking about the chief of Kew gardens who he is friendly with. He told Maajid of how he saw a transformation in the man following the death of George Floyd.

Speaking of his privilege, the chief noted that "to say I'm not a racist, therefore it is not my problem is not good enough" and Paul argued that this should be the philosophy of everyone.

"Before you say some of the things you say, pause for a moment and try understand why these things are happening" he added, backing up Maajid in calls for the public to put themselves in the shoes of those protesting against racism.