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.”