Multiracial Church

By | April 2, 2005

Here recently Christianity Today did a number of articles on striving for racial integration in the community of Christ followers. I know I’m posting a lot here to read, but I feel this issue is a very important one. I would identify one thing as one of if not the biggest problem in christianity as it stands today, that is division. Race is one of the biggest dividing lines, along with theology and different cultures in general.

I used to have the typical white conservative American christian view that racism isn’t really a big problem anymore, outside of a few occasional incidents here and there. After all, the type of blatant public segregation, such as having different drinking fountains for different races, was overcome years before I was even born. (Now I realize how short it’s been in reality.)

But this changed largely because of a couple of sermons/teachings that I heard in the past two years. Both of the speakers were black, and both talked about racial issues. One made the significant statement that if you talk to white people, almost none of them will think that racism is a big issue anymore. However, if you talk to blacks (no doubt Hispanics and native Americans would agree here too), it is an issue for all of them. That combined with the fact that something seemed wrong to me that so often when I heard a black person speak, they talked about race, while it seemed that whites virtually never talked about it.

So here I am in the uncommon position of a white person arguing that we as Christians NEED to work on this issue. In fact, I think it is imperative that the church unify, across races, cultures, denominations (even Catholic and Orthodox), and even subcultures (another possible topic of conversation). I admit that I don’t really know exactly what I can do myself, and that I probably don’t do enough. But I guess this is a start.

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  • ladyofglass

    “So here I am in the uncommon position of a white person arguing that we as Christians NEED to work on this issue. In fact, I think it is imperative that the church unify, across races, cultures, denominations (even Catholic and Orthodox), and even subcultures (another possible topic of conversation).”

    I agree with you about unification… and have actually been thinking much on that issue recently… although admittedly I haven’t thought much about
    how race entered the picture. I’ve thought more along the lines of the denominational seperations… yes, even between Protestantism and Catholicism. One of the issues mention with the sickness and passing of the current pope is the fact that he was very interested in reaching across denominational lines. I think that the Church needs more of this. We are seperated for some very silly reasons… race being one of them.

    On the topic of race–I think that there are a few issues here, and a few viewpoints. One is the idea that yes, racism is still a problem at large in the United States. In many ways, it is. And not necessarily racism in the sense of “White people think they’re better than everyone else”, although this is certainly a problem–that crops up in some of the most inconspicuous ways (for example: Your typical white, middle class American has never been in, or through, a “ghetto”, and is afraid of certain areas of town simply because of the dominant race in that area). On the other hand, many white people are deemed “racist” for issues that have nothing to do with race. They stay away from certain areas of town because they are known for high-crime rate. etc.

    I think one of our biggest problems is that we don’t have respect for one another’s differences. Most middle to upper-class, white Christians think that the biggest problem is that “we make too much distinction between the races”. The truth is, there is an “African-American Culture”. There is a “Hispanic American Culture”. There is an “Asian American Culture”. Every race has it’s culture, which is usually a mixture of what country it originated in, and dabblings in every other culture in the United States. There’s even an “Irish American Culture”. While I’m against stereotyping (there’s no reason to think that just because someone has darker skin, they share all the traits of a particular culture), I think that those differences need to be respected. I think that, within our churches, we can cross those dividing lines by LEARNING more about one another, instead of just putting one another down. Not every African American likes fried chicken and chitlins… but I have friends where I work who do, as part of their cultural heritage. I can learn about that, without stereotyping every race. I think that, as a Believer, I have a responsibility to.. because many of those particular friends are also brothers and sisters in Christ. Learning to “love one another”, I think, means learning to love one another’s differences, quirks, and ideosyncracies (sp?). That includes cultural background… it includes race.

    Hope that makes sense, that you don’t mind the lengthy comment, and that you don’t mind if I post a seperate comment on some of our other posts, because you raised a lot of interesting points. =)

    Take care,
    Crystal

  • ladyofglass

    oh–and thanks for sharing your post with the 20-something’s list.

  • MBroaddus

    okay, i’m opening this up for debate on my message board, too. http://mauricebroaddus.proboards24.com/index.cgi?board=horror&action=display&num=1112561656

    ~maurice~

  • MBroaddus

    and my first sermon was on race. you know why race matters so much to people of color? my last name is “broaDDus” with two Ds. there are a lot of one D “broaDus”. come to find out that four generations ago, there was a clerical screw up on some paper work AS WE WERE BEING SOLD that left some of us D-less.

    four generations is only a great grandparent. my grandparents are still with me.

    • Yeah, which is why I realize that it’s hurtful and insensitive when people say, “oh that’s in the past just get over it.”

      • ladyofglass

        Definitely. It may be in the past, but it’s not something easily “gotten over”. And no one should “get over it”. Why do we learn history in schools? So that we don’t repeat our mistakes.

        On the other hand, though, I don’t like being blamed personally for things that people with similar skin color as mine (none of my family EVER owned slaves… in fact many in my family WERE slaves, and many were brutalized by people of various races–I’ve got Irish, Native American, and African in my background) were guilty of. I can’t necessarily say “If I were them, I wouldn’t have done it”, because I can’t possibly know that. But I know that I wasn’t them, and I didn’t do it. My ancestors had it done to THEM. So I get a little sensitive about the race-issue on the other end, frankly… I get called racist simply because I’m “white” and I go to a church that has a lot of “white” people in it and a lot of my friends are “white”. And what is “white”? I share a few pieces of my dna with people who were slaves, who were beaten, who were treated like animals and sold, who were driven from their homes and forced to cross barren country to a land that wasn’t their own, who are STILL treated as if they’re nothing, worthless… and what, really, does this have to do with style of worship music, in the end? I guess that I’m having some trouble seeing the connection, and sometimes I feel like a connection is implied which isn’t really there. I wonder how much they really have to do with one another.

        ~Crystal