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President Obama: Prejudice, Stereotyping, is it inherited or chosen?

President Obama
President Obama
Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

President Obama represents a group of Americans that have had a long history of discrimination in this country. It is believed that God has used him to reveal the hearts of men and women in America who still hold prejudice and stereotype views of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds than their own.

This is especially true for those who claim to be a part of the Christian Faith. In order to preserve the integrity of the Christian faith, it is important for others to understand a Christ-like heart is a primary Christian goal. Everyone who claims to be a Christian is not.

Most would say you cannot know what’s in a person’s heart and whatever “you” think is in a person’s heart would be pure speculation at best. In the Christian bible there are two ways that the Christian heart is revealed: through the mouth and by the conduct.

In scriptures such as Matthew 15:18-19 and Luke 6:45, they specifically say that “what comes out of the mouth “proceeds” from the heart,” or “out of the abundance of the heart the “mouth” speaks,” or “out of the heart comes evil intentions….false witness, slander…etc;” Therefore you can always tell what’s in the Christian heart by the words an individual speaks.

In addition, the behavior, conduct, and character of a self-proclaimed Christian is revealed by the fruit of their lifestyle (Matthew 12:33; Luke 6:44).

The conduct of a transformed Christian is demonstrated through the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, faith, meekness, and temperance.

However, if conduct from a self-proclaimed Christian is demonstrated by hatred, wrath, strife, and such things as that it is the manifestation of their own carnal nature, not God’s or Christ’s nature.

Every person in America has a tendency to view the world through their own cultural filters, which is perfectly normal. Once a person becomes a Christian they become a part of the Christian culture, which is made up of a racial and ethnic culture that is global and diverse. The bible has been translated into over 2,500 languages.

The way a person perceives and interprets behaviors of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds should change during the Christian transformation process.

The practice of prejudice and stereotyping will stop in a transformed Christian, because they are no longer the same person. They will love all their brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds. “If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?.....he who loves God loves his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).

Prejudice makes individuals negatively prejudge other racial and ethnic groups solely on their cultural memberships. Stereotyping makes individuals generalize about other racial and ethnic groups, whether it’s true or false or positive or negative and may be totally baseless.

Prejudice and stereotyping of other racial and ethnic groups are usually inherited from others. Our views of other racial and ethnic groups are shaped by the culture in which we were born and subcultures in which we were raised.

Prejudice and stereotyping also comes from an individual’s family, the education system, the media, and sadly from religion. It causes individuals to only care about and value those of their own racial and ethnic culture. The bible says, "In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4).

Prejudice and stereotyping is something given to most people, but not necessary chosen and these concepts influence what we think, how we act, how we treat, and how we perceive other racial and ethnic groups.

The true Christian believer will eventually come to realize that prejudice and stereotyping is something that is often ignorantly followed, blindly accepted, learned, and developed through culture and interactions with others who were also shaped by these assumptions.

President Obama has helped America see just how negatively our cultural prejudices and stereotyping has contributed to the social illnesses that are still prevalent in our country.

Is your prejudice and stereotyping inherited or chosen?

People of the Christian Faith will chose, because of the love of God, to stand up and fight against the prejudice and stereotyping of all racial and ethnic groups by first examining their own assumptions about others in light of God’s Word.

It can start by asking yourself if your assumptions line up with the biblical message that says: 1). ALL humans are made in God’s image, 2). God makes no racial or ethnic distinctions, and 3) God wants “His” people to be reconciled to one another.

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Dr. Pensacola H. Jefferson

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