British Journalist: Stop Comparing Mandela to Jesus

A British journalist has denounced a recent British Broadcasting Corporation interview wherein recently deceased human rights activist Nelson Mandela was compared to Jesus Christ.

Dominic Lawson wrote in a column published by the UK Daily Mail on Sunday that it was "absurd for the BBC to compare him to Christ."

"Mandela's greatness is not in doubt. His ability to work with and, apparently, forgive those who incarcerated him for 27 years in appalling conditions does conform to behaviour we might characterise as saintly," wrote Lawson.

"He also had a radiant presence in public, one that entranced all who witnessed it. Yet political history should also warn us never to confuse the public and private man. They are very different – and Mandela was a spectacular example of this disjunction."

Lawson quoted Richard Stengel, who helped Mandela write his autobiography, in noting the personal flaws Mandela, especially regarding the relationship he had with his family.

"He was warm with strangers and cool with intimates. The smile was reserved for outsiders. I saw him often with his son, his daughters, his sisters; and the Nelson Mandela they knew appeared to be a stern and unsmiling fellow not terribly sympathetic to their problems," said Stengel.

Lawson's piece was in response to a BBC program that featured multiple experts and commentators, including former United States President Jimmy Carter.

Centering on the life, work, and legacy of Mandela, BBC radio presenter Evan Davis argued that Mandela should be put on a par with Jesus in the "pantheon of virtue."

When asked what he thought of the comparison, former President Carter dismissed it, noting that there was no comparison given Jesus' divinity.

"I look upon Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as God himself, and I certainly wouldn't compare any human being with Jesus," said Carter.

While the focus of his column, Davis is not the only commentator drawing the parallel between Mandela and Jesus.

Peter Oborne of the Telegraph wrote a column last week where he argued that Mandela was one of the few human beings who "can be compared to Jesus Christ."

"There are very few human beings who can be compared to Jesus Christ. Nelson Mandela is one. This is because he was a spiritual leader as much as a statesman," wrote Oborne.

"His colossal moral strength enabled him to embark on new and unimaginable forms of action. He could lead through the strength of example alone."