On the Third Day of Kwanzaa, My Minister Said to Me…

| 12/28/2007 5:50:04 PM

Some Christians are uncomfortable with observing Kwanzaa, even though none of the holiday’s principles conflict with the tenets of Christianity. The holiday’s founder, Maulana Karenga, has stressed that “Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday,” and that it “is not a reaction or substitute for anything.” In an article for Religion News Service, Adelle M. Banks describes how various churches continue to celebrate Kwanzaa, in spite of the criticism they receive from other Christians, both inside of black churches and out. Theological compatibility aside, many churches continue to struggle over whether or not Kwanzaa distracts churchgoers from Christmas. If it does distract, is that a problem? The debate, at its core, exposes tensions surrounding identity formation and shared values within communities of faith.

Steve Thorngate 


1/3/2008 4:29:17 PM

How can anyone take seriously a religious holiday or cultural celebration invented (just 40 years ago) by a violent racist who was sentenced to prison for felonious assault and false imprisonment of two women whom he tortured,and who, apparently was used by the FBI to make the Black power movement look ridiculous? Why there's any debate about the appropriateness of Kwanzaa in the Church setting is dumbfounding. According to the Dartmouth article, "Kwanzaa proceeded from Karenga's hostility toward Western religion, which, he wrote in his 1980 book, Kawaida Theory, 'denies and diminishes human worth, capacity, potential and achievement. In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who've sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation's head.' He similarly opposed belief in God and other 'spooks who threaten us if we don't worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives.'"