Menu Close

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, biology, and genetics 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 (IFB), 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 for 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 that needed 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 or the Caribbean islands. 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 a 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 canceled 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 canceled “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 to preach, 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 “godly” man was saying. He was condemning to Hell a vast portion of the human race, all because they had the wrong skin color. 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 former White-Supremacist-in-Chief, 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-race world. And if God is for racism and bigotry, who are we to argue with the white Jesus, right?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.


  1. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

      “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.

      • Avatar

        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.

        • Avatar

          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.

    • Avatar

      I am dark for the Sun has gazed on me. Song of Songs 1:3
      They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. I John 2:19

  2. Avatar

    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.

  3. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

      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?

    • Avatar

      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!

  4. Avatar
    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?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      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.

    • Avatar
      Michael Wright

      I thought about deleting this comment, but I decided against it. Jesus-loving racist bigots such as this commenter are everywhere.



      • Avatar

        Illiterate Jesus-loving racist bigots, to boot.

        Mr. Wright, turn off the Caps Lock and step away from the keyboard with both hands in the air. >:-(

  5. Avatar

    Racism is taught by the way , also let’s just keep this simple what you believe in is where your going and at the end of one’s life it doesn’t matter what color your born with, when we die the flesh dies our Skeletons dissolve we become dust The End 🙂 Have a Nice day 🙂

    • Avatar
      Joseph Scott Norton

      Mark or no mark you can’t counter hate with “cherry picked ” facts. It makes you sound like a liar

  6. Avatar
    Barry White

    16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, …
    Lamech. Adah, and Zillah.
    Adah bare Jabal, Jubal
    22 And Zillah, bare Tubalcain, and sister Naamah.
    23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
    24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

    So why did Lamech claim the ‘right of vengence’?
    Perhaps it was he also had the mark of a skin of blackness.
    Genetically we know that it is a DOMINANT GENE characteristic.

  7. Avatar

    If God did indeed turned Cain’s skin Black, he actually did him a blessing.

    Black people don’t just look younger than White people because dark skin age better and is more resistant to sunlight. They have stronger facial bones so their facial structure is maintained longer than that of White folks.

    • Avatar
      Grammar Gramma

      Elliot, would you want to be Black? If not, ask yourself why not. Then ask yourself if your god really did Black people a favor. Young-looking skin and facial structure is hardly insufficient to compensate for all the injustices that Black people suffer. If those are a “blessing,” your god thought pretty poorly of Black people, granting others many more “blessings” and Blacks good skin and bones.

  8. Avatar

    Black are true Israelites except those from Ham, are God’s chosen People, people on earth in the beginning were all black, it’s the white color which comes with a curse like leprosy and seed of Satan (from Neanderthals genes) true Israelites are black and curses of deuteronomy 28 are only in black people because are real Israelites not the Synagogue of satan

    • Avatar

      Lucky, no one is “God’s chosen people.” You need an actual god for that, and there is none in evidence.

      Stop trying to divide humanity – you’re endangering us all.

    • Avatar

      Apparently you’re not to fond of history and tracking the 12 tribes as they left Israel. As Paul said about the Roman’s “they once knew God but turned away”. Also the Spartans before the Romans. They were of the twelve tribes but not of the tribes to get Moses law. They migrated to Europe as the Bible says north. The. Eventually America.

      • Avatar

        Adam, do you have a link to a peer-reviewed historical or anthropological journal that details these alleged migrations and describes the sites where relevant artifacts were found?

  9. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Terra Blanche/ White Earth, the reason for Black communities having so much violence in them, is not because of melanin content in their skin- it’s due to child abuse, which is a cherished tradition in those communities. There are a few Black people who are trying to change the culture,and get rid of the scourge of abuse,though they are outnumbered by those who tout abuse in the culture as the way to achieve ” street cred.” I’ve personally come to believe that since America was founded on genocide and slavery, facts the settlers themselves wrote about,and didn’t deny-that America will never resolve this issue,until the country goes back to it’s original owners. A not improbable scenario,either.

  10. Avatar
    Rebekah Williams Cessna

    You have some people commenting with really strange ideas, prejudiced and showing their ignorance and their unhealthy overpowering sense of ethnocentrism, just like a lot of people in the Southern Baptist/Fundamentalist/Evangelicals culture I grew up with. They did far more to mock Jesus’ teachings and drive people away from God than any so-called myth of Satan. I believe Satan is the personification of one’s id and the greed, self-centeredness, anti-compassion we are all born with, but is too abhorrent to believe can actually be a part of us. We had to make up a monster, even give him horns and a tail, to transfer our evil onto so we don’t have to take responsibility for our own actions. Then we don’t have to blame ourselves, feel unbearable guilt, or change anything about ourselves. “The devil made me do it”. Bull- you made you do it.

    Anyway can people email you privately?

  11. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Hmmm…..I thought God gave Cain a mark on his forehead, so that no one who encountered him would kill him. I had no idea that skin shade would be a part of that narrative.

    • Avatar
      Niemah Brown

      Jesus is real, He is number 1. Jesus is Awesome. He gave us Trump as a president who did better than this new guy from a black woman. Also, black can’t come from white…but white CAN come from black so it’s basically a chosen ignorance, to avoid what is obvious..Adam and Eve we’re NOT white…

  12. Avatar

    In the small town in Oregon where we lived when I was a child, there were no people of color. I overheard the pastor of the church saying to a couple of deacons that,”We are blessed to live here, where there are no ____.” (won’t use that word, even with an abbreviation). This was the pastor of the church!

    Now he knew I overheard it, but when he saw me standing in the hallway outside the meeting room, he didn’t even bother to look ashamed.

    I still wonder how I managed to escape a lifetime of conditioning.
    I don’t hate people.

    Unless you count politicians. But they don’t really count as human.

  13. Avatar

    I was seven or eight years old I heard a neighbor from southern Georgia spout off this bullshit about the mark of Cain. I knew when I hard that it was a load of horse hockey, to quote Colonel Pottter. BTW, I grew up in northern SC which is still pretty unenlightened.

  14. Avatar

    Early humans were black until relatively recently, originating as we did in Africa. As they spread out of Africa to the north, dealing with different climatic conditions, so they evolved to become white. But make no mistake, black existed long before white came along.

  15. Avatar
    MJ LIsbeth

    The human race began in Africa. That’s Anthropology 101. And most people in Africa are…which color?

    Science isn’t perfect. But it can strive toward perfection, or at least truth, because it’s based on empirical evidence. The Bible, let alone any sermon or teaching based on it, is not.

    Even if you accept Genesis or any other part of the Bible as literal truth, how can you extrapolate a complete change in skin tone from a “mark?”

  16. Avatar

    Holy crap, the comments on this post! I grew up in Tennessee with ancestors from TN, VA, AL, FL, MO, KY, SC. I heard more than I would like of the Lost Cause Mythology, lots of horrible untrue things about Black people and their work ethic, culture, and family values. I heard my great-grandmother refer to Black people as 2 words we don’t use anymore, and talking about lynchings that she knew of growing up in the Jim Crow South. I didn’t have classes with a single Black student until I was in college. It sickens me how people are poisoned and indoctrinated with racism while proclaiming to love of Jesus in the next breath. The people I heard the most racist things from were “good” Christian evangelicals. One of my friends shed light on the ditty, racist founding of the fundamentalist Christian school we attended. A man donated several acres of land for the school to be built upon, with the caveat that no black students ever attend the school. Eventually, of course, this school was part of the Christian segregation academies sued by the IRS for discrimination. The school’s founders were “good” Christian Bob Jones University educated folks….

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away! If You Are a First Time Commenter, Please Read the Comment Policy Located at the Top of the Page.

Bruce Gerencser