You may have already seen these photos going around. They feature a young, Caucasian-looking couple standing in a corn field with the whitest Jesus you’ve ever seen.
tbh there is such a thing as being TOO christian pic.twitter.com/LC6tKep3co
— cx (@cxcope) June 3, 2017
Well, here’s everything you need to know about what led this… unfortunate circumstance.
The photos, which have set the internet ablaze, were taken by Lightweave, a Mormon photography company founded in 2014. Its owner, Kelsy Southam Barrett of Utah, has posted an entire album of similar “Christ Art” (although most of her posts emphasize the dangers of pornography).
Barret didn’t respond to my emails, so we may never know if her company offers similar photos for those who wish to be blessed with an appearance by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. What we do know, however, is that the man depicted almost certainly looks nothing like Jesus of Nazareth would have looked, if he existed.
We are told in the Bible that Jesus was indistinguishable from his disciples, so we can infer that he was a relatively ordinary looking man from that time and region. According to forensic anthropologist Richard Neave, that means Jesus would have looked more like this:
We all know the whitewashed version of Jesus has become a cultural icon, but why would Lightweave specialize in these white Jesus photos? If I were to speculate, I’d say it’s because of implicit racism within Mormonism itself. The church used to teach that dark skin color was a curse from God, and it only changed its position on allowing black men in the priesthood in 1978. Mormons also believe Jesus came to the United States, which might make them more likely to depict him as white (for some reason).
The most entertaining part of all this, as usual, were the responses on social media. My personal favorite is from a Redditor who labeled one of the photos “Perfectly great engagement shot ruined by this homeless guy.”
Another one: “Let Jesus take the third wheel.”
“We were interested in being Jedis, and we were wondering how the indoctrination starts.”
“Let’s have this socialist hippie we worship marry us so we can spend the rest of our lives despising everything he said and stands for… Amen.”
“A photoshoot to commemorate that time we met the dude who runs the hemp clothing/yerba mate’ place.”
If you learn anything from this engagement step, make it this: Don’t hire White Jesus to appear in your photos. The internet will not be happy.