Shaun King, a prominent left-wing fundraiser and activist, endorsed the destruction of religious icons and statues in which Jesus appeared “white.” He described the artwork, which includes some of the most recognizable pieces of art in the Western canon, as tools of white supremacy.
“They should all come down,” King said Monday on Twitter. He claimed religious artwork was created as “tools of oppression” and “racist propaganda.”
“All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down,” King tweeted.
King has over 1 million followers on Twitter, and in 2018 was ranked by TIME magazine as one of the 25 most influential people on the internet.
Exactly what the historical Jesus looked like is a matter of debate among biblical scholars. No descriptions of his appearance survived the chaotic first century AD. As such, when Christianity spread throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, independent churches made images of Jesus whose appearance and dress were familiar to community members. This includes 1500 years of Ethiopian depictions of a black Jesus.
Because of this, much classical European artwork, from Roman times to the Renaissance, feature Jesus with a European appearance. The National Gallery in the UK states that around 1/3 of its immense collection is of Western European Christian subjects.
King has not addressed the history behind these depictions. He has also not addressed whether the thousands of African, Asian, Indigenous, and Indian depictions of Jesus support racial superiority as well.