Campus Reform | 'Is God a White Supremacist?' course advertised at Swarthmore College

'Is God a White Supremacist?' course advertised at Swarthmore College

Students attending the college offered differing opinions on the course and its title.

A Swarthmore College course shines light on “whiteness-making and the construction of white identity” within religion.

Article image

Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania is currently advertising a course titled “Is God a White Supremacist?” within its religion department.

According to the college’s website, the course will primarily focus on “representations of race in religious discourses and social practice,” however, “particular attention will be given to discussion of the interpretive practices that are foundational to the process of 'whiteness-making' and the construction of white identity.”

The reading materials for this specific course include biblical interpretations of “white supremacist 'Christian identity' churches” and the Yakub theory of racial formation in the Nation of Islam.

The course’s description continues with a list of course themes: “evil and the nature of suffering, human/anti-human binaries, death and being, and perceptions of the racialized transcendent Other in the social, political, and symbolic order.”

Students attending Swarthmore exhibited differing opinions when asked about the course and its assigned title.

Elias Gracia, a sophomore at the college, first admitted that Swarthmore is often “alt-liberal" when speaking with Campus Reform.

[RELATED: More colleges implement mandatory anti-racism courses]

Although he does not personally take the course, Elias shared, “I would imagine that this course analyzes how Christianity has been used to perpetuate racism throughout history.” He then added, “I think it is a gross representation of the spread of Christianity though, because while I remain cognizant of the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy, Christianity is immune from the fallacy because it has clearly stated and widely distributed a set of laws and morals that Christians are expected to follow, as outlined in the Bible.”

“Jesus was sent to the Earth so that all people might be saved. He does not make exceptions, meaning all races, creeds, sexual orientations, and genders can come to Him if they declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,” Gracia concludes.

Sannan Sharif Dhillon, a Development Economics and Political Science student at Swarthmore College, revealed a different viewpoint on the course. Similar to Gracia, Dhillon told Campus Reform that she did not personally take the course.

“I understand why people might think it’s a provocative title but knowing Swarthmore and its professors I am confident that the actual content of the class will be much more nuanced and academic,” Dhillon said.

According to Dhillon, he has conducted research on feminist, functionalist, and Marxist perspectives on religion. He added, “I’d want to follow up on that knowledge and learn how religion is used to uphold existing racial structures and the domination of one race over another.”

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A look inside a mandatory 'anti-racism' course]

Dhillon finished by sharing, “I believe any student who just glances at the course description will understand why the title is phrased the way it is. I don’t see why it matters what the course is titled as and how people respond to the title.”

No information can be found on Swarthmore College’s website regarding which professor teaches the class or which sections are currently available to students, but “Is God a White Supremacist?” is still included in the school’s course catalog as a 1-credit class.

Campus Reform reached out to Swarthmore College’s religion department for a comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @logandubil