Conservative Radio Host Says Jesus Was White, “Did He Have White Privilege?”

The United Methodist Church is planning a series of videos on deconstructing white privilege, and one conservative radio host has a problem with it. Lashing out on Twitter this week, Eric Metaxas says that Jesus was white, and demands to know if He had white privilege — then, when he was informed that Jesus wasn’t white, he bizarrely doubled down, suggesting that being “white” doesn’t have anything to do with skin color.

Eric "Jesus Was White" Metaxas
[Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images]

Eric Metaxas quoted a tweet about the Methodist Church and their intent to do a video series called Deconstructing White Privilege. He suggested that the Methodist Church could cover whether Jesus had white privilege despite being entirely without sin, though the concept of white privilege is not in any way linked to, or built on, the concept of sin.

Metaxas was immediately deluged with people explaining to him that Jesus would not, historically, have been white. Some also hit him with Bible lessons.

One response to Metaxas came from Rich Stearns, former president of the Christian relief charity, World Vision, and author and speaker on the duty of Christians to do God’s work in uplifting the poor and disadvantaged. Addressing only the statement on Jesus’ alleged whiteness, Stearns said, “Jesus likely looked like modern-day Palestinians-not Scandinavian.”

To this, Metaxas responded.

Teaching Tolerance has a long-form essay here on exactly what white privilege is, the history of it, and what one does with it (don’t take it personally, learn when to use your privilege to amplify others, be willing to risk those unearned benefits for the equality of others). This explainer makes it clear that privilege is about being a member of, or perceived as a member of, a dominant group.

Thus, in a culture where white, European-descended people were not the dominant ruling power, white privilege wouldn’t exist. In a culture where white privilege does exist, anyone who is perceived as white might benefit from it at times — which means physical appearance would be a significant part of the equation, yes. Finally, the piece makes it clear that ‘privilege’ is an unearned advantage, not based on anything the individual has done right or wrong — so being without sin would not be a factor.

After many more Twitter users responded to try to explain these concepts of privilege and the historical background, and why it wouldn’t apply to Jesus, Metaxas declared that his question had been completely misunderstood, asserting that he never really meant to say Jesus was white, only to make people think about Jesus’ whiteness or lack thereof.

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