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The Church & Race Relations: Help or Hurt?

By Thom Schultz


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.

*This article originally appeared on HolySoup.com. Visit now for similar articles and podcast. 

One thought on “The Church & Race Relations: Help or Hurt?

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    Thanks for bringing attention to this. I believe that “outta sight outta mind”. If I’m not on the receiving end of racism it’s easy, if not profitable, for me to ignore it. If ALL is going to mean ALL in terms of racial equality in America, sacrifices will have to be made by ALL; however, it seems clear to me that white America stands to lose the most from a carnal standpoint. From a Spiritual standpoint we all lose by plugging our ears to an issue that is at the root of our “Rising up, and living out the true meaning of our creeds”.
    As far as being a true recipient of America’s greatness, black Americans, and others, have been forever denied the same rights and privileges that are common place in white America. To prove my point, I know of no white man who would trade places with any black man in America, even if the black man seems to have everything. Ask any black man in America, and that is their experience/perception.

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