How the color red stirs up religious antagonism

By Jeannie St. John Taylor
Oregon Author of You Wouldn’t Love Me If You Knew

I’m an artist, so I’ve long recognized red as the color of passion. I recall one art teacher suggesting a touch of red in every painting “just to liven it up.” Red stimulates the appetite and conversation, symbolizes fervent love, energizes, and, when paired with its complement of green, seems to vibrate the very air.  But in recent years the depth of anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiment stirred by the color startles me. My goodness, I thought, red is just a color!

On Valentines Day the Saudi religious police raided gift shops to confiscate stuffed bears holding red hearts embroidered with the words “I love you”.
But they didn’t stop there, even red silk flowers and red picture frames had to go. Red symbolizes St. Valentine, they maintained, and he was a Christian. It is illegal for Christians to proselytize in some Muslim countries.

It not only occurs in foreign countries but right here at home.   Four years ago a Texas elementary school banned the color red at Christmas for much the same reason. School authorities claimed red symbolized a Christian holiday and, if I am remembering correctly, children were not even permitted to wear red and green clothing to their “holiday” program. That policy has since spread to other schools.

So, does red really denote Christianity? I didn’t think it did. Several years ago the followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh adopted red as a symbol of their faith. Since they lived in Oregon, I avoided red clothing for a while even though its one of my best colors. I didn’t want to be identified with Oregon’s notorious false religion sect.

But Easter is approaching and in preparation for that holiday I’ve decided to take up the banner of red offered to me by those who fight against anything Christian, religious or spiritual. Maybe they’ve been right about it all along; maybe they saw something I forgot.

The color red is personal for me, because Christ shed his scarlet blood for me, he owns the color red. His blood rescued me and I claim it with pride and gratitude. I choose to love him passionately, pray to him passionately and, when given the chance, speak passionately on his behalf.

I might even look for a red Easter dress.

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