If You Think the “I Met God, She’s Black” Shirt is Controversial, You Have to Explain Why January 5, 2015

If You Think the “I Met God, She’s Black” Shirt is Controversial, You Have to Explain Why

A shirt reading “I Met God, She’s Black,” created by 21-year-old “self-described Jewish atheist” Dylan Chenfeld, is generating all sorts of publicity and interest, especially in the wake of what’s happened with Michael Brown and Eric Garner:

The slogan has certainly become a source of business for Chenfield. When he initially started printing the shirts about one year ago, he says many of his buyers were white. He’s also gotten celebrities like Drake and Cara Delevingne to be photographed wearing his shirt.

“I like poking fun at sacred cows,” Chenfield told HuffPost. “I’m taking the idea that God is a white male and doing the opposite of that, which is a black woman.”

Although he’s trying to make money from the campaign, there also seems to be a spiritual side to his motives. Chenfield said that, compared to the other members of his Jewish family, he was always the one asking more questions about what God is really like. His grandparents are Orthodox Jews, he says, who follow a conservative strain of Judaism that doesn’t allow women to have a bat mitzvah.

The shirt’s message actually speaks to a deep desire for people to see God in their own image, says The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis, a Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church who has been involved in protests against Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the NYPD.

I’m all for ideas that force people to question their deeply-held beliefs, so more power to him. (My biggest problem with the slogan is the grammatically-incorrect comma.)

But the “controversial” aspect of this makes no sense to me because I think people are getting upset for the wrong reason, even on their terms.

Supposedly, Christians would be the ones offended by this. But why? Because they don’t think God’s a black woman? Well, most Christians would tell you God’s not a white man, either. They’d call Him a spirit of sorts — not any particular color, not any particular gender, and nothing like the depictions of Him in popular works of art.

And yet it seems like the negative reaction to this shirt isn’t “Why would you assign a color and gender to God?” Rather, it’s that God isn’t a black woman… which, even to Christians, should make no sense.

Personally, the slogan is just a lot of bullshit packed into a few words. God isn’t black. God isn’t a woman. And nobody who wears the shirt has actually met Her. But if it gets people irrationally worked up over something I doubt they can explain coherently, bring it on.

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