Is God White?

is god white

American companies remain predominantly white despite widespread protests against corporate racism. Stanford psychologist Steven Roberts may have identified an explanation.

People tend to view God as a white male, which influences their ideas about who should hold leadership positions. His research was recently published in Personality and Social Psychology journal.

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At an early age, Steven Roberts found it perplexing that God was being depicted on a large screen in the sanctuary as an image of a white, male figure – something which did not make any sense to him as it seemed outlandish to depict our all-powerful creator as something so mundane like this. “I just couldn’t understand it,” Roberts recalls.

Stanford psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have discovered that when people imagine God as white male, they are more likely to believe that white men make good leaders. Their study, published Jan 30 in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, involved various tests designed to explore how ideas about leadership affect perceptions of real people.

One experiment involved showing 224 adults drawings of God and asking them to identify his age, gender and race before rating each portrait as boss-like or less boss-like. Researchers carefully stripped away religious imagery so participants would know they weren’t actually looking at real depictions of Him; results demonstrated that those who thought of Him as white men more frequently rated white male candidates more highly as having leadership potential than black men and black female applicants.

This result isn’t completely unexpected, but it does shed some light on how imagining God as white may contribute to maintaining and reinforcing US corporate culture’s racial hierarchy. Researchers don’t propose that color alone accounts for this grossly uneven distribution – however they believe it to be an influential factor.

White God is an exquisitely poetic drama about young woman’s love for their dog and finding peace within relationships. Academy Award nominee Nuri Bilge Ceylan crafts this movie using string section music and drum beats that create a grand sense of scale; Zsofia Psotta stars as Lili, Bodie the dogs are named Hagen; actors Zsofia Psotta as Lili and Luke the dogs play Hagen are outstanding actors.

This film provides a vivid portrait of racism and misogyny’s impact in our daily lives, and while its ending may not be satisfying or complete, it offers hope and possibility. While racial imbalances won’t disappear overnight, we can start by dispensing with ideas of right and wrong being forced onto others by force, as well as rejecting ideas that an ultimate being must look like one of us.

Why Not?

The idea that God is white is unfounded on biblical, historical, logical and emotional grounds. Though natural to some people’s minds, such a notion should be rejected outright in favor of reconciliation and love.

Growing up in a predominantly Black church, Steven Roberts often wondered why God and Jesus were depicted as white men – something which caused unease within him. “It didn’t fit with how I perceived them,” recalls Roberts – now an Associate Professor at Stanford University Psychology Department as co-Director of its Social Concept Lab – adding, “it didn’t seem right.”

Roberts has conducted multiple studies aimed at exploring how the race and gender identity of an imaginary being can impact beliefs about who should hold leadership positions. With colleagues, he recruited 444 U.S. Christians for an exercise whereby pairs of faces differing in age, race and gender were presented and asked to rate how each would serve as supervisors; those imagining a white male god more favorably judged job applicants of similar characteristics; in other words, His identity dictated their ideas about who should fill management roles.

Roberts and his team decided to explore further the correlation between an image of God and real-life ideas about corporate leadership. To do this, they recruited another group of Christian participants and asked them to imagine interviewing candidates for supervisory roles at their workplace, then shown a set of 32 photos with individuals whom they had to rate how well each would serve as supervisor. Their researchers once again found that those imagining white male God rated white male job applicants more positively than white female or black male applicants.

Roberts concluded from this observation that people tend to rely on images of white men to form assumptions about who should hold leadership positions. He and his team are continuing their research into how our society’s perception of a white God influences perceptions about what constitutes an appropriate racial make-up for business leaders. They believe it plays an integral part in the unequal representation of corporate leadership across races in the US and elsewhere, as well as exploring how an image of white God affects Black American perceptions of Him. Studies show that depictions of white God help maintain and uphold rigid racial hierarchies within American society, yet do not offer as the sole explanation for the lack of black or other minority leaders in American companies.

Why Not Now?

No matter how difficult life may seem at times, we should remember one reason to persevere: This moment in history represents an unprecedented chance to make positive changes that could change everything for the better.

But like most people, when faced with difficult situations it may be hard to move forward because your beliefs may be holding you back; these could be founded in prejudice, fear or ignorance – it’s essential that we recognize them before implementing necessary changes.

Steven Roberts is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University and co-director of its Social Concepts Lab. Since 2001, Steven and his team have been studying how our beliefs affect our behaviors; his most recent publication in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined whether people’s understanding of God affects their perceptions of who should lead.

Roberts and his team recruited 444 American Christians for this research study. After showing them pairs of faces that differed in age, race and gender characteristics – participants were then asked to select which face resembled God more closely; results revealed that participants more often thought of Him as white male than any other race or gender; additionally they believed male leaders should lead their organization more.

It is perplexing for many reasons why Christians would view God as being white, particularly since Christianity has never been about race or ethnicity. Christianity quickly established itself as an inclusive faith within decades after Christ died and rose again, shattering stereotypes between groups while building bridges among them all – Simon was likely Black when leading Antioch’s early church, while Apostle Paul reached out to numerous communities, including Jewish ones.

White represents purity, goodness, innocence and cleanliness – qualities associated with all that is good and pure in the Bible. White symbolizes God’s light (Genesis 1:26) as well as his holy bride in Heaven (Revelation 19:8); it even features prominently when representing Jesus seated atop his throne and its angels (Revelation 19:11).

So does our tendency to imagine a white God influence our views of who should lead society? Roberts and her team conducted another series of experiments with both adults and children; instead of asking participants to visualize a divine being (God), they asked them who they thought should rule a fictional planet called Zombot instead. Their results showed that US Christian adults, but not children, tended to prefer Hibbles over Glerk as leaders of their society when the creator of Zombot was an alien being rather than white God.

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