The Curse of Cain: Why Blacks Have Dark Skin

megyn kelly quote white jesusHave you ever wondered why blacks have dark skin? Back in the days of my youth, my pastors believed it an important question to answer. Now, no one ever asked, “have you ever wondered where whites get their light skin?” What was vitally important was sussing out a definitive answer for why some people had black skin. The easy answers, of course, were melanin and proximity to the equator, but when you believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, the right answer to this question must come from the Bible. After all, the Bible is God’s supernatural answer book. Whatever the Bible says about history and science is true. Now, the Bible never explicitly explains why blacks have dark skin, but since Adam and Eve were white, well, where did blacks come from?  No amount of white-on-white breeding will produce black children, so there must be a “Biblical” answer to why so many people have dark skin, right?

As a young Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, I was taught that Genesis 4 clearly revealed to any racist who wanted to know why blacks had dark skin. Genesis 4:15 says:

 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Genesis 4 details the story of Cain murdering his brother Abel. One of God’s punishments of Cain was setting a “mark” upon him. More than a few Baptist preachers, especially Southern Baptist segregationists in the South, believed that this mark was God turning Cain’s oh-so-European white skin black. These Jesus-loving racists went to great lengths to trace the lineage of Cain down through history, showing — in their minds anyway — that Cain’s descendants had black skin. Of important note was the fact that Noah’s son Ham married a black descendant of Cain, thus continuing the curse down through human history. I knew of Baptist preachers who spent countless hours tracing the genealogy of Cain through the pages of the Bible. These preachers believed that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites, and were best suited for manual labor. Slavery in the United States was justified by Christian pastors who believed the Bible taught that blacks were a cursed race in need redemption. Slavery, then, was an act of benevolence — white slave owners giving their black charges a far better life than they would have had in Africa. This wretched thinking continues to drive how the United States interacts with countries with populations that are primarily non-white — you know, Trump’s “shit-hole countries.” These poor, inferior, ill-bred, ignorant people need our benevolence and help, even if it is given to them through military force or coup.

By the time I left Midwestern Baptist College in the mid-1970s, I had cleansed my mind of the racist training of my youth. Sadly, Midwestern was rife with students and professors who believed that blacks were inferior/cursed. I don’t believe the founder of the college, Tom Malone, held these views. After all, the college had a handful of black students, far more than Bob Jones University had at the time. Malone, by the way, was a graduate of Bob Jones College and came of age in Alabama in the 1920s. If he was racist, it wouldn’t have surprised me, but I never saw anything from him that suggested he was. The same couldn’t be said for the man who was in charge of the bus ministry. Under his watch, he cancelled all the bus routes to and from Detroit. These routes normally ran in the afternoon, bringing riders to what was called “B Sunday School.” Since most of the riders from Detroit were black, students considered the afternoon “B Sunday School” to be “Black Sunday School.”

All freshman students were required to work on a bus route. After I returned to college for my sophomore year, I quit the bus ministry, choosing instead to preach on Sundays at a drug rehabilitation center in Detroit. The bus director cornered me one day as I was leaving school and chastised me for quitting my bus route. He told me I had a bad attitude — no shit, Sherlock! The bus director got more than he bargained for. I replied, “And you are a racist! I know why you cancelled “B Sunday School!” We parted company, never to speak to one another again.

In the late 1980s, I attended a Street Preacher’s Conference in Washington, DC. While there, I met a man who was a rabid follower of IFB preacher Peter Ruckman. As we were fanning out from the Washington Mall, the man told me that he didn’t bother witnessing to blacks. “They don’t have souls, you know, so there’s no reason for us to witness to them.” I couldn’t believe what this many was saying. He was condemning to Hell a vast portion of the human race, all because they had the wrong color of skin. I told him I didn’t believe such nonsense, and then I quickly walked away.

Racism is alive and well in the IFB church movement, the Southern Baptist Convention, and Evangelicalism as a whole. Thanks to our White-Supremacist-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, racists driven deep into the closets of Evangelicalism have now found the light of day and are quite willing to vocalize their racism and bigotry. That a Christian member of Congress can ponder out loud his wonderment over white supremacy being a “bad” thing, and Christian Fox News hosts can say that there’s no racism in the United States, tells me that we are far from living in a post-racial world. And if God is for racism and bigotry, who are we to argue with the white Jesus, right?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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11 Comments

  1. GeoffT

    I don’t understand the comment made by that Kelly woman, that Jesus is a verifiable figure historically, linking him then to Santa. So three comments

    1. Jesus is a poorly evidenced figure in history. It’s slightly more probable than not (just) that there was a real person who inspired the legend, but it’s relative only to a person who at the time was of little importance, during a period when literacy was minimal.
    2. Santa is entirely imaginary, of that there’s no doubt.
    3. Jesus, if he existed, would have been dark skinned, and would have been regarded as ‘black’ by modern standards. If Santa were to exist there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t be black.

    Reply
    1. Troy

      “Santa” isn’t entirely imaginary. There was a real Saint Nicholas of Myra. Myra was an ancient Greek town in what is now Turkey. While there are many ethnic groups in Turkey, I suspect Santa should like more like Cenk Uygur than the Yule tide-Cocoa cola reincarnation that is widely depicted in the United States for more than a century.

      I personally think there is a historical Jesus. He certainly wouldn’t have looked like what I call “Euro-Jesus” (the classic Euro-Jesus is based on Cesare Borgia and others based on European artists and patrons making Jesus in their own image). Indigenous Israelis are sometimes referred to as “sabras”, I suspect that’s what the historical Jesus would look like.

      So in both cases Santa and Jesus they would be more accurately depicted as olive skinned middle easterners rather than northern European.

      Reply
      1. GeoffT

        Ah yes, I should have clarified my meaning regarding Santa, which of course derives from ‘St Nicholas’. What I meant was that there is no grouping in the world (outside of young children) that believes the modern day Santa has any basis in reality, albeit the name is derived from a supposedly real name in history. Modern day believers in Jesus very much believe he is as he is purported to be in the bible.

        Reply
        1. Linn

          I knew some believers back in the 60s who always had African American Santas at their African American churches. I guess I come from some kind of time wary.

          Reply
  2. ObstacleChick

    It makes me sick, but I remember the mark of Cain and Ham’s progeny being referred to as black and that being black was God’s punishment- this of course being talked about at Southern Baptist Church in Tennessee in the 70s and 80s. Needless to say, there were no African Americans at our church – indeed, none lived in the community. The bigotry taught in some religious circles is reprehensible.

    Reply
  3. Linn

    I believe in Jesus, and I am an evangelical. However, I got my start in an IFCA church, where I was converted to the faith. However, this church was in a large city in California. We had a preacher come by with the mark of Cain story, and he was never asked back again. We also had a correction from the pulpit that his interpretation of the story was not true. it’s one of the things I can give the church credit for.

    I’m as white as they come, although I grew up with mostly folks of other ethnicities (which I loved, by the way). I do not understand why all the old myths keep coming back. If American whiles are that insecure, maybe they are the ones who need to leave.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      The old myths keep coming back because they are built-in and part of the faith you espouse… as soon as you admit that you are a fallen creature and need Jesus to be murdered by his daddy, you fall prey to ALL the rest, even though you feel you discern and choose your way with Christ’s whisper in your ear. Your belief is founded on self-harm. Why do you want to hurt yourself like this? You are a human being like all of us and do not deserve to be told you are rotten at the core. Would you tell this to your children too, abuse them for your faith, put Christ first?

      Reply
    2. Matilda

      You ‘loved’ people from all ethnicities? How nice of you. May I respectfully ask if you ‘love’ LGBTQTIA people too? You’re a pretty rare evangelical if so. I mean, accept them, not tell them they’re miserable, hell-bound sinners who need your jesus. He’s the myth hun, I do hope you will one day realise that and be able to free yourself from the shackles of evangelicalism, like many of us here did. It’s a great life!

      Reply
  4. Terra Blanche

    And what if these so-called ‘racists’ had a point? You were right in objecting to their conditioned views but what if they were right about Negroes ‘not having souls’? Anyone can put on a do-gooder act.
    Most crime in the US is within Colored communities. Are they the sons of Cain; cursed this way?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Humans don’t have souls, there is no curse of Cain, so what your point? Crime statistics cannot be divorced from their social and economic context. For example, where I live 99.9 percent of crimes committed by whites, including every murder in past 30 years.

      Going forward, please do not use derogatory terms such as negro, colored. Blacks, people of color, African-American is fine.

      Reply

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