Most Americans believe the country’s race relations are generally bad. And some are wondering about the connection between race and religion.
Are churches generally helping–or hurting–race relations? What role should churches play in racial reconciliation?
We hear these questions with increasing frequency as immigration tensions swell, and as the population becomes more racially diverse. Minority sectors are becoming the majority. But as the culture becomes more mixed, the population’s view of racial harmony continues to dim. In 2009, 66 percent of Americans viewed race relations as generally good. Today, just 38 percent view race relations as generally good, according to the Pew Research Center.
Where is the church in this shift? Some say that the support President Trump has received from some conservative Christians has exacerbated racial tensions. Pew Research found that 60 percent of the population believes that Trump’s election worsened race relations in the country.
For decades, pundits have repeated that the most segregated hour in America is 11 o’clock Sunday morning. But is that picture changing? Maybe so, says Michael O. Emerson, co-author of Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. He said, on the Holy Soup podcast, that his research shows that since 1998, the number of multi-racial congregations in the U.S. has doubled.
But Emerson says the American church has a long way to go to contribute to racial reconciliation. He argues that too many Christians, white Christians in particular, tend to minimize the racial problems in the country. What can be done? Emerson suggests several actions, in today’s podcast. Listen here.
And Emerson will be featured at the upcoming Future of the Church summit, on a panel entitled “The Church’s New Role in Racial Reconciliation.”
Robert commented on Facebook: “There is a long history of humans enslaving other humans … by color, gender and class… the result of ignorance of spiritual / transcendent truth. The spiritually awakened across history worked to end the ignorance of slavery … a falsehood imbedded in cultural memes.”
On Facebook, Michael replied: “Racism didn’t proceed slavery. That came later as a way to justify slavery once a large number of people in society started to condemn it.”
The Church can HELP, by focusing upon Christ, and Him crucified. When we look at each other as brother, and sister in Christ, instead of black, white, left or right politically, then the world may notice how we Love each other.
The Church can HURT, by focusing upon Pew research political polls, and FOX/MSNBC reports about how terrible we are. As someone saved by His grace, I already know that- Tell me something I don’t know, like how to be redeemed.
So what happened in 2009? The first African-American was inaugurated into the most powerful position on earth. Whatever hope that brought in the beginning, it was soon apparent that many people could not handle that. They may have used otherr names or reasons for it, but make no mistake, most of the hatred of Obama boiled down to two things: racism and the inability of Republicans to accept a popular Democrat. (That second dynamic was also at work with Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.) If you doubt this is true, think about who was elected in 2016–a man who played into racial fears, repudiated optimism, incited white nationalism.
As for that 11 a.m. on Sunday thing–MLK said that, but I am not sure he examined it, and most people do not examine it today. The worship hour is segregated, sometimes intentionally, sometimes de facto, but often, especially in a very diverse area such as Southern California, due to cultural factors. The statement assumes that it is negative for people to separate along linguistic lines, for example, which is where much of segregation comes from, or worship style, which is another huge factor. Without more in-depth research into the demographics, the statement is meaningless and misleading.
At my church, for example, the congregation has three “segregated” worship services on Sunday, because the services are held in three different languages. We come together for trilingual services several times a year, but each group has its own practices and relationships. It’s like a huge family that has reunions periodically, but they spend most of their time in their own homes. In addition, we nest a small, young congregation in a fourth language.
I realize that I am coming from the point of view of someone who has lived 40 years in an integrated community in an integrated county in an integrated state, and sent my kids and grandkids to integrated public schools. I realize my frustration at feeling that our dialog is stuck in 1970 is that I live in a community that went through the throes of integration in the ’70s and has, for the most part, come out on the other side. And I don’t like simplistic slogans or hackneyed “analyses.”
Oh, boy, I have just opened myself to a flood of responses….
This was an interesting podcast but I have a few comments you may even say they’re racist
It seems that like the gentleman said that the people of wanted to come into the white churches around this issue I have seen an issue the people who are coming in expect us to change to fit their culture of the ones that are coming in they expect us to change our style of service such as going from a southern style red back Hymnal worship service in two more of their type of worship service
Whereas the other races won’t change their style of worships to white southern style worship.
I do not believe it is right to expect one side to change and the other side not change
If you want to worship a certain way then you should go to a church that allows that worship in the way that you feel comfortable
But you should not go into another congregation and they expect them to change their way of worship to sue your idea of worship and when I’m talkin worship it is more than just the songs I’m talking about maybe this style of the preaching in the way the services are handled
This is one of the great divides he mentioned it partially but he didn’t address it fully you need to address both sides of the coin and let basketball as it may lay God bless you
Scotty, I agree. I think it’s not so much a matter of race as of style, which may often be linked to cultural/racial/regional identity.
Laura, there are people out there who feel, that if you change to fit their style you are racist.
This podcast is Holy Soup.
Soup has different flavors and ingredients
I like potatoes I like potatoes fried, baked or mashed or creamed. I like potatoes in a casserole or mixed in with other meat and vegetables in a stew or soup..
BUT I DON’T LIKE PLAIN POTATO SOUP.
Does that make me a racist against potatoes or soups? Does that make me a racist?
It is my preference. Because I have a preference, AM I A RACIST?
I do not expect every church to be like our church.
Some like classical style of praise and worship.
Some like a soft rock or folk style of praise and worship.
Some like rock style of praise and worship.
Some like a country style of praise and worship
Some like a soul style of praise and worship.
Praise and Worship is not a style or genre, but Praise and Worship encompasses all styles and genre
Yet we will say because we don’t like a style or genre we are racist. THAT IS NOT SO, that is a preference.
Here’s a scripture
1 Corinthians 9:20-23
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (Compare)
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
Will you notice who did the changing?
Apostle Paul was doing the changing when he went from one group of people to the next group of people
The people weren’t changing to suit Paul.
When you go into a new body of believers change to be like them as long as there is not ain involved
Constance commented on Facebook: “Growing up in an area of Pittsburgh, PA there were many areas that were very many people living in neighborhoods where their ethnic families lived. I.e. Italian, Greek, Jewish, Slovak, Irish and others. The churches echoed those countries. Not only African American churches but also other European churches looked liked their communities. I did not know one African American family or person until I went to college in SC. That is when I became friends with people that did not look like me. I should say I am almost 70. How to we overcome bias? Make friends with others. My mom would ride her church bus and go pick up children in the low income housing to bring to her church. Should be noted, having British grandparents, I also grew up in a “project” style home of town houses. We were middle income of mostly fathers that worked on the railroad or the factory. I did not know a rich person until I went to college.”
Karen commented on Facebook: “I think churches had 250 years to help race relations. Now sports, the military, and public schools are trying to help. Even arts and entertainment have pitched in to help. Seems like a few churches helped (Quakers).”
Is it racist for each church to have its own culture where we have freedom to worship as they are led.
I can worship with most anybody.
I will worship as they worship as they to the best of my ability
I was invited to a family and friends day and was put on the program at a church of different race.
I am part of our church band. I am featured as a soloist often. I sing southern gospel style.
The church invited me and told me to be myself
The first couple of years everything went fine
The first two years I was supposed to sing one song but the Pastor ask me to sing another one
Both times I laid my guitar down and I called on the church musicians to back me up. I am in a Baptist church. The band started playing and I began to sing and the Holy Ghost fell in the house
and the people were shouting.
But the third I was informed that I would not be on the program. The reason they didn’t like my style. But I went with my friend anyway
I didn’t carry my guitar. But the congregation just before he preached the congregation called out for me to sing, though the preacher shrugged it off.
The lady who was in charge asked to share a song with them.
I did sing one song, and the crowd got into it.
I have been back several times and I let them ask me st the service and not one time have they failed to ask
Though we have had the Pastor to speak at our church, his members wouldn’t support him when he visited with us.
Though my friend and family came
Interesting–Sounds like that pastor has too much authority. In Presbyterian polity, there are only two things the pastor is absolutely free to do: choose the scripture and say whatever she wants from the pulpit. Of course, they also do liturgy, consult with the music director on hymns, and plan other parts of the service, but the session can always step in (a decent and orderly meeting) and let the pastor know if she is wrong.
So the pastor cannot discern things and noticed when they are causing a conflict, which other parishioners had talked with her about.
But it is ok for a new pastor to bring in a whole new staff and remove the present staff?
Greg commented on Facebook: “The Bible says there is no difference between different races and their access to God. (Galatians 3:26-28). The Bible also says people as well as churches are not supposed to view people by physical differences but as souls that need saving, and access to God through relationship. (2 Corinthians 5:16)”
There is but one human “race”. I suppose “ethnicism” or “ethnicists” is too hard to throw out as “racism” or “racist”.
I work in a very “ethnic” diverse workplace. We have no issues… zero. When I have conversations with people of other “ethnicities”, I find there is no difference. Everyone is just plain human. This whole “racial” (bad wrong term) divide is media created. It’s real by way or media brainwashing and constant TV conditioning.
The above being said, the term “birds of a feather, flock together” is a real thing with us human beings. We feel more comfortable with those to whom are like ourselves. That is just the way it is. The “India” people and the “Mexican” people at my work do hang with each other at lunch time. That doesn’t make them racists. The women and guys hang together separately. Many just hang by themselves at lunch alone as myself, especially the older individuals. Most “whites” as myself hang by ourselves more than those of Indian, Mexican or Korean cultures. It is generally the younger who are more social and hang together than any cultures older individuals.
As far as blacks and the orientals such as Chinese or Japanese, there are not enough who work close with each other to form hanging groups. When it comes to working together, there are no issues. What we see in the media and fake news world is not real. They try to create issues where no issues exist by driving how we think of other cultures. Do… Not… Trust… the News! When ever I turn on the news, I feel like I’m sitting in Moscow, Russia.
” too many Christians, white Christians in particular, tend to minimize the racial problems in the country. What can be done?” A good place to start would be speaking out and standing up for justice for all like Jesus did. Maybe Church cultures are different and birds of a feather flock together. However the pain and suffering of injustice , devastates equally across racial lines. A good place to start would be when a 12 year old black child was shot down in a playground in Cleveland , every white Church in the country that claims to be Christian should have emptied into the streets, and demanded justice and change from their politicians. When a black man was shot in the back by a white police officer and then had a a gun placed next to him to frame him, every white Christian Church in the country that claims to be Christian, should have emptied into the streets and demanded justice and change from their politicians. That would actually be a true follower of Jesus, however very few whites have the stomach to do that when it comes to other races who look different than they do.
I live in San Antonio, and brought my daughter and her black child to a local church. She joined the choir and my grandson loved it. Many people said my grandson should go to the church school, so we applied, but we were told he wasn’t a fit. They said it wasn’t because he was black, but since he was the only black child in the church, and he never had a problem in school, and now has a “B” average, I think they were scared some white parents might poll out their children if he attended. I am now scared to bring my grandchildren to church. Any ideas would be helpful. God bless.
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In the US the problem is overwhelmingly a racial one, in the UK it seems to be more a class one. This should not be happening in churches.
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