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8 Bumps

Lets try not to let this one get ugly

But I do think it is a good question . Why do you think?

Question of faith: Why are so few U.S. churches racially integrated?

In his book Stride to Freedom, civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." Time magazine asks, "Can megachurches bridge the racial divide?" CNN polled its viewers last year and found that most congregations across the United States worship with people of the same race. In his book United by Faith, Curtis Paul DeYoung says that only 5 percent of the churches in America are integrated.

As we reflect on King's legacy and celebrate his birth, we ask why this segregation exists.

Anthony Everett, associate director for African American Ministries, Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church: With current demographics, Dr. King's quote is accurate for most critiques about the existing racial divide in the church reflected in Sunday morning worship.

The issue of integration reflects how society continues to evade the sin of racism. Too often we want to simply not see "color" and make believe that justice is equitable.

The reality is that integration by assimilation does not work.

Instead of dealing with the conditions of immigrants and refugees, black men and boys, the homeless, the poor, women and others, our society turns a blind eye and often attacks the victims.

While the dropout and incarceration rate for black males in distressed communities is alarming, violence against women and homosexuals is on the increase; immigrants and refugees have little sense of community; and the provision of homes for the homeless are issues to which we have become desensitized, even in Lexington.

Our state legislators waste time debating the benefits of detaining and deporting non-violent immigrants in the commonwealth, an issue that Christians have warrant to oppose.

Because of the pain and suffering we inflict on each other as a result of not dealing with these issues, it is much easier for us to segregate into separate corners and hide ourselves from the presence of the Lord God, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

When we address the issues of marginalized, ethnic people in America in the same way that we address the issues of the dominant culture, then we will genuinely and authentically celebrate together at eleven o'clock on Sunday as one people in the glory of God.


Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington: "Racial separation of our congregations on Sunday is a deep-seated one that has been fed by things like the misuse of Scripture to justify slavery and the conflict during the civil-rights movement. But not all the reasons are nefarious.

"Traditionally, the two groups have been separated by styles of worship (as are many all-white Protestant congregations).

"Instead of focusing solely on Sunday morning worship, churches can find other times to come together with churches different from them (racially, sociologically, theologically) to partner together in ministry.

"The more we learn about each other, the more comfortable we feel singing each other's hymns and holding each other's hands in prayer, the less different we seem."

Myron Williams, Southland Christian Church, Lexington: "Over the years of ministry, I have worked in congregations which were racially integrated and those which maintained some racial segregation.

"Those congregations that were racially integrated seemed to attract people whose culture and worship style preferences were similar and whose congregational members were committed to racial reconciliation.

"In the New Testament, congregations tried to be racially diverse (Ephesus especially) and discovered racial tension that had to be worked out.

"What does seem to matter is unity of beliefs and unity of spirit, with reconciliation of people to God and one another as a key component.

"Is racially integrated worship a goal to be reached for or achieved? I'd rather think reconciliation of people to God and to one another is far more important, not that they necessarily worship together.

"The strength of Christianity is the diversity of the groups who follow Jesus. One congregation worships with hymns and another with praise choruses; one with outward expressions of emotion and another with staid formalism, yet they are united in a common faith.

"Do we need racial reconciliation? Absolutely, for that is the pattern for people who follow Jesus."

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Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 12:29 PM on Jan. 15, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (36)
  • Wow....That is a good one....I never thought about that....even when I would go to church when I was younger. I cant wait to see what people say about this one. =)

    Answer by Shelii at 12:39 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • Hmm, compelling question.

    I am Catholic and have lived all over the country as a military wife. The churches have all been multi racial/cultural. In my current church we have caucasians, AA, Asians, Latino/Mexicans and 1 family from the Middle East.

    I was raised in the Baptist Church. We had a couple of AA and Mexican families. There was a large AA church in town. I went there a few times with friends and one babysitter we had...they ROCKED! The service was TOTALLY different than the dry one I was used to at the Baptist Church. IMO part of it is cultural..if I was AA I wouldn't have wanted to trade my fantastic way of worship for the dry old white guys!

    I disagree with the part ^ in the question about the Bible being used to justify slavery. I do know this happened in the past, I just think we...for the most part...I am sure there are still racist holdouts...are past that.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 12:43 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • I disagree with the part ^ in the question about the Bible being used to justify slavery. I do know this happened in the past, I just think we...for the most part...I am sure there are still racist holdouts...are past that.

    I really couldn't say how much of a difference it makes - but the article is from a southern paper and posted to another site I use. That said, I know there are still some traditionally black southern churches even up here, and they can be just as political as they are spiritual, so it may just be certain denoms have stronger feelings about that aspect of it than others.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 12:46 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • hm. i've visited some churches that have all blacks with a sprinkle of whites, and vise versa. but the church i attend and grew up in have all different races, white, black, Latino, filipino, ect. we even have interacial marriages, and "mixed" children. honestly, until i visited some churches in my later years, it's all i knew. i thought all churches were like that


    Answer by armywife43 at 12:48 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • My church has many races in it. I love it. Why is it not common. Its perceptions people have, the part of the country it is in and it is a spiritual thing as well. Definitely spiritual bondage that needs to be broken over that church, the area it is in ect. I could tell you stories of atmospheres changing when people recognize this and interceding and praying for that city, town, area.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 12:55 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • Good question. Other than the usual FEAR as the answer---fear of differences, fear of racial tensions etc, I'm not sure why you still see a lot of segregation. Most churches I've been to were somewhat integrated and fairly diverse (or at least as diverse as the general population of that town), and my extended family (sister in law and her family) who are black attend an integrated Catholic church. I personally know black people, white people, and hispanics who attend her church. I wonder if this segregation is everywhere are just prevalent in the south?

    As far as slavery and the Bible, it's my understanding that slavery then was a little different (maybe I'm wrong though), but it was common for people to allow themselves to go into slavery or be indentured servants for a period of time to pay off debts. I'm sure there was some slavery simply based on race too, but I DON'T think the Bible SUPPORTS this kind of slavery.

    Answer by pam19 at 12:55 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • oh and I forgot one more.. cultural is also involved.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 12:56 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • Good one. I have seen this. The church I go to is all white, its very small. We have had some people of other races drift in and out and we are very welcoming of them. I always just thought they didn't feel comfortable coming on a regular basis. However, the association my church belongs to has some churches that are not so open. My sisters nephew is mixed. My bil parents go to another of our churches who told them be basically wasn't welcome. Although the boys sisters are half guatemalan, and they never said anything about that. It's not right. I don't agree at all. My dad was pastor of a missionary Baptist church and the boy and his sisters joined there. They have a mix of races and welcome all as it should be.

    Answer by Astraea_79 at 1:07 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • "only 5 percent of the churches in America are integrated"

    I'm really curious how accurate that is. There are really so many churches out there. How did they get that number? Just curious, maybe it was because i was raised in the north, but every Christian church we have been to were pretty diverse. (i was raised hindu, but my mom made us all go to Christian churches for Christian holidays, we would usually go to an episcopal church).

    I have only been to one church down here in Atlanta, but it teaches a combination of Hinduism & Christianity. So is extremely diverse there...

    Answer by samurai_chica at 1:49 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

  • "I'm not sure why you still see a lot of segregation"

    Because birds of a feather flock together. That is why. I don't think it has to do with fear all the time. I think people in general feel more comfortable when they feel like they belong somewhere. And people usually feel that they "belong" when they have more in common with one another.

    Answer by samurai_chica at 1:52 PM on Jan. 15, 2011

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