The teachings of Christianity about discrimination and prejudice and how people should be treated
Prejudice is an opinion about a person or a thing, which is based on what you think, without considering the reality and/or the evidence. Discrimination is an action. It means being unfair as a result of your prejudice.
Not all discrimination is wrong – God discriminates between the evil and the good, and punishes the guilty. When the Israelites came to the Promised Land under Joshua, they were told not to tolerate the evil practices of the people who were living there. They were not to tolerate sin and falsehood. So for instance, when the prophet Elijah challenged and overpowered the prophets of the false God Baal, he put them to death. Similarly the Last Judgment at the end of the world will be very discriminating.
At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were prejudiced against sinners and foreigners – but Jesus welcomed both.
St. James wrote in his letter in the New Testament (James 2:1-9):
“My brothers, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism.” We read in the Old Testament that God sent the prophet Samuel to Bethlehem, to look for a man who would be King of Israel. The Lord said to Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the
The Lord discriminates against those “whose hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13, + Mark 7:6)
Another important aspect of prejudice and discrimination is racism.
Martin Luther King was a great fighter against racism in America, against the Blacks. In his famous “I have a Dream” speech in Washington (20/08/1963), he said: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The Anglican Church has defined racism as the ‘theory, prejudice and practice of disadvantaging or advantaging someone solely on the grounds of their colour, culture and ethnic origin.’
Most Christians would argue that all people are created equal. They might look to the Bible and find passages like Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which states, ‘There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3.28). Statements by Church leaders support this attitude.
Although there are many Christians all over the world fighting racism, there are also examples of racism in the Christian Church. One of the most extreme examples has been in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa (DRC).
The World is full of variety and differences, so this is obviously some thing God loves. Just as men and women work together without abolishing their differences and becoming ‘unisex’, so people of different races should work together, recognising and respecting their differences. St. Paul said, “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole Earth.” (Acts 17:26)