“There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” and “Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind,” you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Award- winning independent film maker, Brian Chinhema’s, latest project “Let’s Bow Our Heads and Segregate” is a documentary that examines these words from Dr. King’s work “Paul’s Letter to American Christians,” composed in November of 1956. Due to be released in 2013, the film features Dr. Michael O. Emerson, a professor of sociology at Rice University, co- director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and author of Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America; Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary and the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University and author or United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race.
“Let’s Bow Our Heads and Segregate offers an unadulterated look into the segregated American church. We move beyond the old idea that racial problems result from ignorance, prejudice and that evangelicals are such people. Such assertions do not take us far in trying to understand why racial division in the church persists. We also move beyond the idea that church segregation continues simply because white evangelicals attempt to consciously defend their economic privilege. Instead we explore the ways in which culture, values, norms and organizational features that are quintessentially evangelical and quintessentially American, despite having many positive qualities, paradoxically have negative effects on race relations.
Let’s Bow Our Heads and Segregate makes a bold and clear argument that Christian congregations whenever and wherever possible should be multiracial. We state our argument imperatively due to the story found in the Acts of the Apostles which described how the first-century church moved from an ethnocentric congregation in Jerusalem to a multiethnic congregation in Antioch (cf. Acts 2-13). This tendency toward congregations that reconciled Jews and Gentiles became the standard. Compare that to American Christianity which came into being within a paradigm of racial separation and theologies emerged to support this pattern. Thus, America’s original and most deeply rooted sin is racism.
The gospel story is about reconciling people to God and to each other. The ultimate goal for the documentary is to become an educational tool, not just to talk about the problems but also about solutions as to how we can move forward in an increasingly diverse American church.”
This documentary offers Christ’s Church in America yet another opportunity to examine the causes for the absence of fellowship between different cultures and can provide an opportunity for sacred dialogue concerning race, racism, prejudice and stereotypes. It is time for a change. For more information about the film and its release date, please click on the links below.