Racism: What Is Man?

A personal story of family racism, a history of ongoing racism through Planned Parenthood, and a biblical appreciation for the image of God in every person

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Background

Race can be a touchy subject. To that end, I feel it only appropriate to share with you a little bit of my personal family history.

After appearing in the film Genesis: Paradise Lost, I received an e-mail from someone who asked me if I was Croatian1 because of my last name. I was, and we immediately connected. This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. When I was taking biochemistry at The Ohio State University, I noticed someone’s name and asked the same question. That individual was from a neighboring country (Macedonia). The general rule of thumb to determine whether someone is Croatian has to do with the ending of his/her last name. It isn’t true 100% of the time, but you may have noticed that most on Croatia’s 2018 World Cup team had last names ending in –ic or –ich.2

All of my great-grandparents came to the US in the early 1900s. They settled where they could find work near Youngstown, Ohio, with all its steel mills. To this day, the largest number of Croatians herald from this part of the country.3 My grandparents grew up bilingual and wrestled with becoming American or staying Croatian.

Grandfather

One of my favorite childhood pictures. It is particularly special because it has every family member of that generation. My grandpa and grandma are on the right with my grandma holding my mom as an infant. My three uncles are pictured on the left, including my only-living uncle. My grandpa died within one year of this photo being taken, leaving my grandma to face single-parenthood with four children (one of whom was an infant). This picture was taken in the early 1950s in a field in western Pennsylvania.

Schoolhouse

The schoolhouse that my uncle attended is no longer standing, but he describes it looking like this dilapidated building.

My uncle is over 70 and grew up in a poor single-parent home. His dad (my grandfather) died from leukemia when my uncle was a teenager. His parents and family members (there are over 400 of us from the two great-grandparents alive today) impressed on him the power of a good education (my great-grandfather taught himself English by reading the newspapers, even though he never finished middle school). When my uncle was a boy, he went to a schoolhouse like you see in shows like Little House on the Prairie, where every grade was combined in a single room.

I never knew until I was an adult that my uncle was called a racial slur by his schoolteacher in front of the entire class. Once I learned this, I later learned that all of my relatives that were about that age were also called the exact same racial slur by other people you’d say have the same skin tone/color as my family. Though many have suffered far worse than name-calling and unfair treatment, my point is that racism is not actually about skin color—but the nature of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9 (NET)). James 2:9 (NET) (NET) says, “but if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.” While the verse says “show prejudice” and does not actually use the word racism, the word racism does appear in an English thesaurus as a synonym for prejudice.4 By syllogism, the Bible says racism is not to be part of anyone’s life because it violates God’s law of love.

Eugenics

The nature of the human heart is well illustrated by going back roughly 100 years to Margaret Sanger. Sanger strongly supported what was called the eugenics movement. She even started the American Birth Control League in 1921 to promote these eugenics ideas.5 The term eugenics was originally coined by the cousin of Charles Darwin named Francis Galton in 1883.6 The word itself was synthesized from the root eu- meaning “true/good” and -genics meaning “in birth” to generate the idea of enhancing the human gene pool. When worded this way, eugenics sounds like a great idea because who doesn’t want a better gene pool for humanity. But the really significant problem with eugenics has to do with how it is implemented.

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921

Planned Parenthood

Picture taken by my friend B. Hartley when we visited Washington, DC, on a separate project. This sign was hanging on the outside of the building that we were sent to that was vacant and empty. We were very clearly sent to a vacant building that was the former property of Planned Parenthood.9

While the eugenics movement had its supporters like Sanger in the US, its ideas and proponents had tremendous, overwhelming, and even national support in Europe. One country in particular implemented these ideas, highlighting the truth behind the eugenics movement: Nazi Germany implemented eugenics to wipe out the Jews in what we now call the Holocaust.7 When it came to light that Nazi Germany implemented eugenics, Margaret Sanger changed the name of the American Birth Control League to distance herself from the Holocaust.8 The new name for her organization is what we now know as Planned Parenthood.

People in the middle of any controversy often find their words twisted and misunderstood—Margaret Sanger is no different. Unsurprisingly, the internet is rife with those that have not done their homework to see if she said some of the things she supposedly did. I decided to look at what she actually said for myself and concluded that she clearly had racist ideas. In a letter dated December 10, 1939, she said,

There is only one thing that I would like to be in touch with and that is the Negro Project of the South which, if the execution of the details remain in Miss Rose’s hands, my suggestions will not be confusing because she knows the way my mind works.

[Paragraph explaining why Sanger desires a “Negro physician” to implement birth control.]

The ministers [sic] work is also important and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (I highly encourage you to read the full letter for yourself to decide, here.)

The Washington Post has twice said that this quote by Sanger was “inartfully written” here and also here. Planned Parenthood has a document that addresses people misrepresenting this quoted sentence, and they cite a book saying this was, “evident in all the printed material put out by the Division of Negro Service, was that uncontrolled fertility presented the greatest burden to the poor, and Southern Blacks were among the poorest Americans.”10 But in the next paragraph, Planned Parenthood honestly admits that Sanger even, “made a speech on birth control to a women’s auxiliary branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey, in 1926.” They excuse her speaking there because she didn’t care who the audience was and just wanted to get out her message. These and other media outlets come to rescue Sanger from the fact that her communication was racist indeed.

Even more bizarre is how the official Planned Parenthood tries to make Sanger sound like she is not racist. To do this, they quote a letter in which she said,

I believe that the Negro question is coming definitely to the fore in America, not only because of the War, but in anticipation of the place the Negro will occupy after the peace. I think it is magnificent that we are in on the ground floor, helping Negroes to control their birth rate, to reduce their birth, infant and maternal death rate, to maintain better standards of health and living for those already born, and to create better opportunities for those who will be born.11

I understand that Planned Parenthood is trying to make Sanger look less demonic by quoting her in a way that has a positive spin to it, but how can you miss the fact that she actually argues for helping control (read: dominate) others she considers clearly different from and seemingly inferior to herself? This is appalling. The logic: it’s better to kill some so the rest can be “better off.” This mindset, that is still pervasive today, is utter depravity.

I understand that Planned Parenthood is trying to make Sanger look less demonic by quoting her in a way that has a positive spin to it, but how can you miss the fact that she actually argues for helping control (read: dominate) others she considers clearly different from and seemingly inferior to herself?

Sadly, the latest national statistics about abortions performed in the US as reported by the CDC says that non-Hispanic Black women “accounted for the largest percentages of all abortions” at 38.9%.12 In addition to having the most abortions, non-Hispanic black women “had the highest abortion rate” at 25.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. It seems that Margaret Sanger has accomplished her despicable goal 100 years later. With all due respect and in light of the history as explained above, it is illogical to protest the death of “Black” people out of the womb while simultaneously applauding the ongoing murdering of unborn “Black” people—in the name of choice.

What Matters?

Every person on the planet bears the image of God.

I fully agree with the premise that “Black” (really, darker shades of brown) lives matter. Every person on the planet bears the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and deserves dignity and respect regardless of age or socioeconomic status. It is entirely morally wrong for anyone to look down their nose and mistreat any person (regardless of your own skin shade). Keeping in mind that it is wrong to be racist against any people groups, some have heralded that “all lives matter,” and I agree with that premise as well. However, I think there’s even a bigger issue surrounding these two politically divided camps, and I’d like to state it with my own proclamation: Life Matters. My reason for stating it so simply and broadly originates with the fact that our Creator is life itself. Though there are many more, consider these verses as a sampling across Scripture (emphases added):

For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? (Deuteronomy 5:26)

And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. (2 Kings 19:4)

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2)

But “the burden of the LORD” you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. (Jeremiah 23:36)

As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20)

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. (Acts 14:15)

And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” there they will be called “sons of the living God.” (Romans 9:26)

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

Since all life has come from God, all life matters to him.13 I really like how the famed preacher J. Sidlow Baxter from a couple generations ago put it, “God hates inhumanity.”14 When one image-bearer mars the essence of another image-bearer (born or unborn), it is sin. But as Jesus pointed out how easy it is to cast the first stone, we all need to examine ourselves to see if there be any wicked way found in us. I need to continually ask myself if I am showing others the respect they deserve as fellow image-bearers. But to properly show that respect to others, I need to start with my relationship with God:

So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. (Joshua 23:11 (NASB) NASB, emphasis added)

How Did We Get Here?

But society didn’t wake up one day and decide to completely tarnish God’s image-bearers. It happened to us the same way you cook the proverbial frog: put the frog in the pot of cold water and slowly turn up the heat until it’s too late.

But society didn’t wake up one day and decide to completely tarnish God’s image-bearers. It happened to us the same way you cook the proverbial frog: put the frog in the pot of cold water and slowly turn up the heat until it’s too late. Even though Charles Darwin is most credited for his work On the Origin of the Species, his later, lesser-known work, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (full title), basically gave instructions to annihilate anyone considered inferior, i.e., “different” from some arbitrary state of attainment. What’s eerie about the connection between Darwin and current events are some dark comments he made about a virus that was wiping out humanity at his time: smallpox. We must remember how Darwin was contemporary with Edward Jenner, who developed the vaccine for smallpox. Darwin’s worldview is extremely shocking.

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.15

It seems to me that Darwin equated the “savages” (i.e., including but not limited to those of African descent) with something less than dogs. You don’t have to read between the lines to see “let the unfit die”: Don’t provide medicine that can consume resources for everyone “civilized.” That would in essence have prevented my own family from coming to the US in the first place. My great-grandmother was illiterate and couldn’t speak English. I am the first in my family to earn a PhD. Darwinian logic (quite the oxymoron) fails miserably on so many levels biblically, scientifically, and morally. I have long wondered why we’re so shocked at the world today when we teach young people that they’re nothing more than an animal and should act like it: sorry, Charlie—less than some animals and should act like it. There is nothing redemptive to this worldview.

On that note: do you know the Creator Redeemer? It isn’t only about a head knowledge, but a “heart” knowledge as well—it’s all about relationship. For us to be useful in helping this world to get things straight, we must first all commit to a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and let him guide all future decisions, sharing with others how to be saved from Darwin’s dismal worldview and practices and saved to eternal LIFE.

For more answers to questions about “what is man,” visit here for more information.

Ultimately, the global solution is knowing Christ personally, which can be found here.

Footnotes

  1. Fun fact: Croatia was part of the Roman province known as Dalmatia that is mentioned in the Bible (the breed of dogs also comes from here).
  2. “World Cup 2018: Dejan Lovren named in strong Croatia squad,” June 4, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/44356857.
  3. “Croatians in the US,” https://www.croatiatraveller.com/Directory/croatsUS.html.
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/prejudice
  5. Planned Parenthood,”https://answersingenesis.org/sanctity-of-life/abortion/planned-parenthood/
  6. What About Eugenics and Planned Parenthood?,” https://answersingenesis.org/sanctity-of-life/eugenics/what-about-eugenics-and-planned-parenthood/.
  7. University of California Television (UCTV), “From Darwin to Hitler,” April 24, 2008, https://youtu.be/w_5EwYpLD6A.
  8. Population Reference Bureau, “Margaret Sanger, Birth Control Pioneer,” April 1, 2000, https://www.prb.org/margaretsangerbirthcontrolpioneer/, hinted at here: “Eugenics and Birth Control,”https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/pill-eugenics-and-birth-control/. This one demonstrates the close connection Sanger had with the German eugenics movement: Amita Kelly, “,” August 14, 2015, https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/08/14/432080520/fact-check-was-planned-parenthood-started-to-control-the-black-population.
  9. I visited Planned Parenthood once with a videographer at their headquarters in Washington, DC. When the videographer went inside to ask if we were at the right address, they never identified themselves as Planned Parenthood and gave us their old building number—sending us on a wild-goose chase. When we arrived at their old building, we both realized that we actually were at the real Planned Parenthood originally and we were deliberately tricked (probably because they didn’t want the truth to get out).
  10. Original quote taken from “Birth Control or Race Control,” 2001, https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/articles/bc_or_race_control.php.
  11. Planned Parenthood, “Margaret Sanger — Our Founder,” https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/9214/7612/8734/Sanger_Fact_Sheet_Oct_2016.pdf.
  12. Tara C. Jatlaoui et al., “Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2016,” Surveillance Summaries 68, no. 11 (2019): 1–41, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/ss/ss6811a1.htm.
  13. This idea of the living God making life important also has special implications for creation stewardship and related ethical decisions.
  14. I must acknowledge that Baxter was committed to the gap theory, and his opening sections on Genesis in Baxter’s Explore the Book are abysmal in terms of biblical authority. Once past that portion of the book, it is solid and a great resource for any serious student of God’s Word.
  15. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871 edition), vol. I, p. 168.

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