Marjorie Taylor Greene Just Called Kwanzaa a ‘Fake Religion’

Kwanzaa is not a religion but a seven day celebration mirroring traditional harvest festivals among various African cultures.
marjorie taylor greene kwanzaa fake religion
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) pictured in front of Congress on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa began Sunday, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene observed it by getting mad and calling it a “fake religion.”

Greene, one of the most visible members of the far-right in Congress, posted through her frustration after the College Republicans made an innocuous tweet wishing those who celebrate “a happy and prosperous Kwanza!”

“Stop. It’s a fake religion created by a psychopath,” Greene said. “You aren’t bringing in new voters, you are turning them away. People are tired of pandering and BS.”

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Greene’s tweet was predictably mocked on Twitter. “Ahh yes, the religion known as Kwanzaa,” one tweet said. “Celebrated by Kwanzians.”

Kwanzaa, which means “first” in Swahili and is part of a longer phrase meaning “first fruits of the harvest,” was first celebrated in California in 1966, seven years before Greene was born. It lasts for seven days between December 26 and January 1, and celebrates seven values: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. 

It is explicitly not a religion, but a festival for Black people mirroring traditional harvest celebrations among various African cultures, as founder Dr. Maulana Karenga said in a 2000 interview

“It makes little sense to attribute Kwanzaa's date of celebration to misconceptions about its replacing Christmas or Hanukkah when it is simply following a pre-established season for African first-fruit celebrations which precede both Hanukkah and Christmas,” Karenga said in that interview, adding that Kwanzaa “is a cultural holiday, not a religious one.”

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Greene’s referring to Karenga as a “psychopath” appears to reference his 1971 conviction on charges of felony assault and torture of female victims. Karenga was paroled in 1974 and continues to deny involvement in the crimes; he went on to get his PhD and now teaches in the Africana Studies department at California State University-Long Beach. 

The College Republicans Twitter account indirectly responded to Greene’s Kwanzaa tweet by retweeting other GOP well-wishes for Kwanzaa from this and past years from Republican elected officials and groups, including the Republican National Committee, the Texas state GOP, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds—and former President Donald Trump.

“For more than 50 years, this weeklong celebration has been used to honor the heritage and culture African Americans share around the country and worldwide,” Trump said in a presidential message issued by the White House in 2019. “Every aspect of American life has been enriched by the countless contributions of African Americans.  Kwanzaa is an opportunity to foster deeper cultural understanding and build stronger bonds of mutual respect and friendship between all Americans.”

“We hope the light of the Kinara fills your homes with hope and joy, and we send our best wishes for a New Year filled with good health and much happiness,” Trump’s statement said.