Religious Racialization: Part 2

DISCLAIMER: I am referring to Christianity when I speak about religion, but you can substitute Christianity for any other religious or spiritual belief system. I am using Christianity, because I aspire to live a Christian lifestyle.

Regardless of the priority or perceived role religion plays in your life race has managed to influence it in some way.

I like how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it in his sermon on April 28, 1953 titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”. In that message he says “11 o’clock Sunday morning remains the most segregated hour in America”. This is still true today.

Like termites to the untreated wood of your home, racism continues to quietly destroy the psychological and communal structure of the church through the minds and perceptions of individuals who proclaims to be a Christian.

The ability to go throughout the world teaching by example the answer to the question “What is a Christian?” is weaken by the racialization of religion. The church as a whole and members individually must come to see that the roots of racism, bigotry of any type and exclusionary practices are very deep. There must be a collective effort to uproot and weed-out the isms or division within the church.
Some may argue that you can’t institute a religious form of Affirmative Action in the church. You can’t force people to worship together.

I agree you shouldn’t, because the program of Affirmative Action or even quotes doesn’t belong in the church. But I would respond by asking you to consider what Heaven or even Hell will be like? I’m absolutely sure that you will find at least one person of each race represented.
Why is and what makes this acceptable or unchallenged?

Sometimes it is location, class, language, traditions or even economics that contributes to a church being predominately ________. I agree that the color of your church shouldn’t matter, but the content does.

Why do some find it difficult to question their church? You question out of love and a desire to seek the truth, not comfort or confrontation. You ask questions to help clarify your understanding.
The executive, doctor or even politician is just as important as the fast food worker, janitor or drug addict. The church is the place where the pregnant teen can go for comfort and consolation, but it also where the pretentious bible-thumping conservative and the casual attire tongue talking liberals are convict to change their ways too.

It’s not all about the mansion, white robe and crown, but about what you are called to do for others… Service.
I know how this is sounding so please allow me to conclude by briefly injecting a story about an experience I had many years ago.
Obviously I’ve always been a person to question authority. I didn’t see a reason why I should be considered any different than anyone else. Perhaps I should credit my parents for that, although I questioned them too at times. But they were raised in a much different era than me. I would have been lynched or have had many problems if I lived during the time they were coming of age.
Anyway, I remember the first time I really caused what I call a quiet uproar in my church. I started to date this girl that started to attend my church. That wasn’t an issue to many members of our church. The issue was bound to race and class.
I remember many members spreading the rumor of “Why is the pastor’s son dating that white girl?” and “She’s not good enough for him?” All of this while singing in the choir and teaching Sunday School lessons. I know, it shows the hypocracy of people who consider themselves to be Christian.

Well this went on for months, getting to the point where we couldn’t even sit together without a negative comment being aimed at us. It began to affect our relationship because racism was openly allowed to flourish in the church. The so-called Christians in the church did not have the theological testicular fortitude to speak out against it.
Perhaps this is the beginning of Thoughts, Ideas & Suggestions.
Since no one, not even family or friends was willing publicly speak out against the racialization of the church then I had to. It wasn’t pretty and it took a little over a year for many to even speak to me or I to them again. But the first step towards deracializing the church is addressing the problem. Then you shouldn’t end with just talk, but action. Be active in the solution.

Today the church is still a majority Black congregation, but I enjoy seeing more and more people of different races visit and become members of the church. If you choose to live a Christian lifestyle then you must be willing to do what’s unpopular. Now I see this is about to go into something else so I’m going to end here.
There’s nothing wrong with attending a church that you are comfortable with. I’m only asking you to evaluate what and why you may be comfortable with a church that may be doing good thing, but lack diversity. A lack of diversity in religious fellowship is not a problem cause by any one group, but an opportunity for all to come together to resolve. It’s not difficult to do, just start talking to each other with an open mind and heart.

Additional References:
Thoughts, Ideas & Suggestions – 11/16/08 “The Americanization of Jesus Christ
Bible Gateway (English Standard Version) “Revelation 1:1-20
Dr. Martin Luther King – 04/28/53  “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution
Dr. Frederick K.C. Price – “Race, Religion & Racism: Vol. 1  (A Bold Encounter with Division in the Church)”

One thought on “Religious Racialization: Part 2

  1. Excellent post, Tim! I trust that there are some folks smiling down from heaven who know that your insights are right on the mark, but like the walls of Jericho we can knock down these racial barriers as well…have a wonderful weekend sir. Safe travels.


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