Until we de-couple whiteness from America’s dominant religion, we won’t achieve true equality. Manifest Destiny Jesus examines how portraying Jesus as white has reinforced cultural divides from the colonial era up through our modern period of rampant gentrification, segregated churches, and police violence. 

Manifest Destiny Jesus is a documentary with a twist. What seems at first to be a story of gentrification in late capitalist and self-consciously liberal Seattle is in fact a sharp, at times scathing, and deeply humanistic exploration of the clear ties between narratives of American “discovery” and conquest, white supremacy, structural racism, modern inequality, and yes, Jesus Christ.”

Michelle L. Berenfeld, John A. McCarthy Associate Professor of Classics Pitzer College
Synopsis: 

Manifest Destiny Jesus documents how portraying Jesus as white reinforces police violence, bigotry, and institutional racism. The film uses history, interviews, and commentary to demonstrate the variety of ways racism manifests in our minds and around us.  

Against the background of a gentrifying neighborhood, the film weaves two main threads. After adopting two black boys, a white mother’s views on race and representation are turned inside out. After a sermon from a black female theologian, an interracial congregation reignites a plan to transform their stained glass image of Christ. 

Together with historical interviews, these community voices reveal a pattern of conquest and disenfranchisement that began in the colonial era and continues up through our modern period of rampant gentrification.  

This powerful, award winning documentary encourages discussions about the intersection of US housing policy, the wealth gap, social justice, media representation and how Christianity plays a role in it all. Viewers will find themselves interrogating assumptions and evaluating the cumulative effects of religious and secular forces previously assumed to be unrelated.

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This is an essential viewing experience for educators, students, community organizers, religious organizations, activists and anyone who cares about the future of America. It encourages discussion and reflection on the following topics:

 

CRT

Media Representation

Gentrification/Housing security/Affordable Housing    

Poverty

Urban studies

African-American studies

Religious studies

Black Liberation Theology

Redlining/Racist housing problems

Segregation

Wealth gap

Poverty

The future of cities

Casual racism

Capital flight and corporate disinvestment

Reviews

“a great documentary…it really is talking about the notion in our society that Jesus is white and examining that and the relationship between that and upholding systems of oppression.”

Vivian Hua, Executive Director Northwest Film Forum

“...reckoning with America’s “manifest destiny” colonialist underpinnings…most of what the film seems concerned with is Christianity’s awkward intersection with white supremacy – often being used as a tool to spread and enforce cultural hegemony – while religion also personally informs and enriches the spiritual lives of many of those interviewed.”

Jenn Misko, The Sunbreak

“Filmmakers crack the alabaster Jesus facade...explores how the widespread portrayal of Jesus as white influences everything from gentrification to police brutality. And how one small church in a gentrifying South Seattle found the courage to ask, “What does it mean to worship a white Jesus?”

Beverly Aarons, South Seattle Emerald
Director's Commentary: 

America is, once again, trying to address the racial inequity plaguing our society. Anti-racism, white privilege, and gentrification are hot topics, but not many people are comfortable talking about the cornerstone of our country’s foundation: “white Jesus.”

Christianity has been both justification for chattel slavery and the source of Black Liberation Theology. We resolve this schism through the nominal distinctions: Christianity vs White Christianity.

White Christianity blankets resentments and grievances which have festered as does any untreated wound, and that suppurating ulceration contributes to the septicity of our current political climate. 

As Christian-raised artists, we felt a deep need to confront the deleterious effects of a racialized deity–on believers and non-believers alike. Until we de-couple whiteness from America’s dominant religion, we won’t achieve true equality.