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Why Racism Might Defeat American Evangelicalism: Part 1

Comments (12)
  1. Bill Cron says:

    Both my wife and I are believers. We outreach to Muslims and to Chinese and other immigrants, who are not terrorists on the college campus. My wife is Chinese and I am white. Even among these people groups we have found among Evangelical circles and churches. To my dismay, and embarrassment, white Christian exceptionalism is not only subtle, it is overt. We are afraid to tell others in the church, a white church, we are sharing the gospel through a Christian organization on the college campus we are sharing the gospel and befriending Iranians, Chinese, and others who are not white. We have faced racism from others in our marriage. We married because we had a mutual burden to expand the Kingdom of God, my wife is finishing seminary, and I have my seminary degree. If I had not married my wife, I would still be so ignorant. I know that to be true. We have faced it. Racism is real. Not all white Christians are that way, but too many are, just like I was. Turning a blind eye is a form of racism. Racism is a form of abortion. It is dehumanizing and strips an individual of their personhood before the Lord. I am pro life, yet the call to strip away the abortion of racism needs to be loud and clear as well, as it is a form of abortion. It does not kill the physical life, but it kills a person’s soul, not only to the racist, but to the person on the receiving end of it.

    1. Bill Cron says:

      I wish I could say we could share what we do with many others in our church, but we have to gain trust on that front. It is not automatic at this point. I hope that clarifies that comment.

  2. David says:

    I appreciate Dr. Williams’ thoughts, but I wonder how the “browning of America” will change the “evangelical” landscape.

  3. Mark Mollenkof says:

    I can’t wait for the second installment of this series. I think most white evangelicals would have a problem with many of your premises. I also think this article should be required reading for the leaders of my predominate white evangelical denomination. Sadly I don’t see many being remotely interested. I have to disagree with Ingrid. Many of my friends believe that rightward leaning politics is Biblical and leftward leaning is antithetical to the Gospel. Dr. Williams, please keep on battling to help us understand these issues and hopefully, by God’s grace, the Church will one day value all humanity and all cultures as part of God’s creation.

  4. tina says:

    as a person of color who grew up in a southern baptist church, i can say that this is very true. let me tell you that my parents grew up in a jim crow south and had every right to tell me that white people can be very, very evil and somehow praise God on Sunday after lynching somebody on a saturday. but they didn’t; they told me to love others even when it’s hard. i started to experience racism for myself in middle school. my character, my blackness, and my intelligence was questioned; it’s hard to be the only black face in a white place. to feel out of place is enough, but to also be reminded of it is something else. my old pastor preached about how times were better in the 50s when you could eat at Woolworth’s without any trouble; if you don’t know, black college students protested at Woolworth’s by sitting at the counter “illegally.” with the new pastor for the past four years, i told him that racism is a subtle evil and how it affects not just black people’s lives and spirits, but how it causes white people to act less human, and he dismissed me. to tell the truth is not divisive; perhaps that’s why the pharisees killed Jesus; Jesus told them, in much paraphrasing, to do better, but they were comfortable in their iniquity. truly, when you are saved by God, you are transformed, but can you be transformed and still have hate for your neighbor? if so, God is a liar, and truth does not exist.

    1. Adrian says:

      Amen, Tina…. My thoughts and experiences sound eerily similar to your own as my parents are in their 80’s and 70’s and were ADULTS in the Jim Crow South (Louisiana) with my three older siblings (I myself was born in the early 70s) who can still remember not being able to use the ‘indoor bathroom’ while at the city park, and were, instead, relegated to the ‘out houses’ that (to this day) still dot the grounds (although as emptied out husks).

      I, too, have struggled when I’m among Christian (particularly older) brothers and sisters who are filled with nostalgic fondness for the ‘good ole days’ of the 40s, 50s, and 60’s when America somehow was more ‘Christian’. We all tend to look fondly on bygone days as being simpler and more innocent, but as a black man in America–a Christian black man in America–I am always conflicted by the characterization of this country (any country really) having ever been a place that has embraced and prioritized Christian ethics or ‘values’…. My thoughts are always drawn to the history of my people here. And then I wonder in exactly WHICH time were the ‘good ole days’ actually good for black people. Perhaps in the 50s and 60s when my parents–my college educated parents–were failing literacy tests in order to vote, being hosed down in the streets, sitting at backs of buses, etc; or, was it better when we were 3/5 of a person and taken from homelands and brought here to be beaten and raped and separated from family?…. These realities are as much a part of the fabric of our country, society and, yes, sadly our christian heritage in this country, and we should not feel ashamed to ‘pull back the veil’ on that truth an address these things in truth and love….

      This is an important discussion that we all need to be open to as Christian brothers and sisters, without the anger and defensiveness that all too often accompanies it…. Your post struck me as a thoughtful, well-articulated one. I just felt I needed to recognize and applaud your candor and honesty

  5. Ingrid Crozier says:

    ” the evangelical movement believes Christian identity and rightward leaning political identity are one and the same,” I don’t think this is true. There are some folks who actually think that the right leaning party will “save” us from what ever. Of course lots of issues that have to do with Biblical principles tend to be decided by how they line up with what the bible says about them but I haven’t met too many Christians that equate the “right wing” with the church. There are many conservative” unregenerates” (as this election has shown) and many Christian “liberals” out there.

  6. David Behar says:

    Insightful points, not sure about the title and conclusion. In 40 years “other” will be a large racial demographic, and attitudes will be different. For now, inviting people to ethnically diverse churches holds more promise than changing cultural norms at established white or black congregations.

  7. Joe Allyn says:

    Thank you for this assessment. I am pastor of a small, majority white congregation in Wichita. I am realizing more and more my own ignorance and blindness to issues that my black and brown brothers and sisters face. I pray that the power of the gospel of reconciliation would be evident more and more in Christ’s Church in these lands.

  8. Doug Chu says:

    This kind of serious reflection is crucially needed. I am an Asian-American that leads worship at a multiracial evangelical church (CRC). I have wondered if I am simply in an oasis in the evangelical movement that will never reach critical mass among white churches. Thank you.

  9. Sara Collins says:

    Thanks Jarvis! Waiting for you next post and adding this book to my reading stack.

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