Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear is urging pastors in the denomination to refrain from calling Vice President Kamala Harris “Jezebel” due to the racist connotations of the moniker. He is calling on them to honor and pray for her as an elected leader instead.
Greear’s guidance comes in the wake of SBC’s pastors, including SBC Executive Committee member Steve Swofford, referring to the vice president by the term.
“I realize that some pastors are likely unaware of the history of certain racial stereotypes in calling or comparing our Vice President to Jezebel, but that doesn’t make such statements any less unwise,” Greear, who pastors the multi-campus Summit Church in North Carolina, wrote in a Twitter thread Tuesday.
“There are times we will critique policies, but that should not include personal attacks on a newly elected official God has told us to honor and pray for. Let us speak clearly and boldly for righteousness, but in a way that honors what the Scriptures say about honoring our leaders. We don’t correct one sin through another.”
Swofford, who pastors First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Texas, called President Joe Biden “cognitively dysfunctional” in a recent message stating: “What if something happens to him? Jezebel has to take over — Jezebel Harris; isn’t that her name?”
Tom Buck, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas, also referred to Harris as “Jezebel” on Twitter two days after her inauguration.
“I can’t imagine any truly God-fearing Israelite who would’ve wanted their daughters to view Jezebel as an inspirational role model because she was a woman in power,” Buck tweeted.
He further noted that: “I most identify with those who exclusively bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ with both their lips and lives - irrespective of their ethnicity or biological gender.”
Jezebel is denounced in the Bible as a murderer, prostitute and enemy of God. But the name is also a racist trope in American history.
According to Ferris State University in Michigan, the home of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, the portrayal of black women as Jezebel whores began in slavery, extended through the Jim Crow period and continues today.
“Although the Mammy caricature was the dominant popular cultural image of black women from slavery to the 1950s, the depiction of black women as Jezebels was common in American material culture,” the museum’s website details.
“Everyday items such as ashtrays, postcards, sheet music, fishing lures, drinking glasses, and so forth — depicted naked or scantily dressed black women, lacking modesty and sexual restraint.”
In some of the earliest racist definitions of Jezebel, the name was used to refer to slavery era mulatto women, many of whom were often sold into prostitution.
Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican-born father and India-born mother, is biracial and has been accused of using sex to advance her career.
Her relationship with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has been the subject of many headlines in recent months.
Harris and Brown, who is 30 years her senior, dated in 1994 and 1995, before they split after his election as mayor. Although Brown was still legally married at the time, he had reportedly been estranged from his wife, Blanche Brown, since 1981.
Pastor Buck, however, insists that his use of “Jezebel” to describe Harris isn’t about her race.
“For those torn up over my tweet, I stand by it 100%,” he tweeted on Jan. 23. “My problem is her godless character. She not only is the most radical pro-abortion VP ever, but also most radical LGBT advocate. She performed one of the first Lesbian ‘marriages.’ Pray for her, but don’t praise her!”
He also pointed out that there is a liberal magazine called Jezebel and people don’t seem to have an issue with that.