How to Deal with *ist Jokes at Church

How to deal with *ist jokes (sexist, racist, heterosexist, anti-mormon) at church.

You know the jokes I'm talking about...

  • the sly ones about women, 
  • the pointed ones about "them homersexuals," 
  • the loud and proud ones about Mormons. 
How do you "hack" the situation by pointing out the inappropriate behavior while doing it in a Christian context?

Carmen Van Kerckhove is a blogger on race in the workplace at her blog Racialicious. She has a guest post up at Brazen Careerist that is just the ticket. When someone tells a racist joke, here's her suggestion:

My recommendation? Play dumb.

Put on a bewildered expression, act as if you don't understand the joke, and ask your co-worker to explain it to you. He will not be able to explain why the joke is funny without evoking a racist stereotype. You can then question the veracity of this stereotype, thus pointing out the racism of the joke, without being confrontational and without humiliating your co-worker.

Racist jokes rely on an unspoken, shared knowledge of racist stereotypes. Without the stereotypes, there is no humor.
Try it out next time when you hear an *ist joke, and you may be surprised at how much more effective this can be....more than "YOU RACIST PIG" spraypainted on their bible can be.  Although that is pretty effective.



yipeng October 9, 2008 at 12:36 PM  

I've tried this once when I heard friends laughing at a sexual joke on television.

Instead of explaining it, he went "You don't get it?" followed by a pause, as he thought of how to explain it.

Unable to find a 'safe' explaination, he said "Aye, you don't want to know." and continued watching.

I told them I didn't think it was worth watching, put on my earphones and read my book. :)

~c. October 11, 2008 at 9:22 PM  

Does Ms. Kerckhove work in a church or a secular office. Such jokes are unacceptable anywhere, but I think if she were a pastor, her reaction ought to be more pointed, direct and firm. Sadly, in my 2 years and 3 months of pastoring, I have had to do this on 3 occasions. I feel strongly that I handled it well by speaking directly to the matter and holding people accountable to the standards of the Christian life.

Rev. Jeremy Smith October 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM  

I think your experiences in direct confrontation are valuable and, I'm sure, persuasive.

I would say that Ms. Kerckhove is probably showing a way to deal with them in a less direct manner. Not everyone is comfortable with confrontation, so any tool that combats *ism that people can use is a good tool in my book!

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