Perspectives series examines ‘The Bible and Race in American Christian Cultures’

The “Legacies of Racism in American Culture” series will return with “The Bible and Race in American Christian Cultures” at 3 p.m. Nov. 3 via Zoom (Meeting ID: 998 4330 8081, Passcode: 441316). Rannfrid Lasine Thelle, Wichita State associate professor of religion, will present on the subject while Andrew Hippisley, dean, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will host the event.

The talk will cover how the  Christian Bible has been a factor in American culture and society since European colonists brought it to the U.S. 500 years ago. Political and religious leaders, academics, and cultural figures have applied biblical texts and Christian interpretative traditions to their political and social agendas.

With a mindset that had long taken the supremacy of Christianity as a given, some influential early Americans developed biblical and theological justifications for subjugating Indigenous populations and taking their land. The same thinking found a rationale for the enslavement of Africans and the continued violence against their descendants. Elaborate readings of biblical texts combined with early modern theories of racial origins formalized systems of racial identities that fundamentally privileged White people. 

This talk will also illustrate connections between historical practices and present inequalities, and pose the question of how we, as a university, ought to respond.