This is the title of a chapter of Rev. James Ellis III’s newest book Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil: Stories about the Challenges of Young Pastors, where he served as the editor. It is a book that includes a number of true stories from clergy who may differ in denominational affiliation but all wear the same collar and experience many of the same challenges. The above- mentioned work was written by Dr. David F. Evans, an Assistant Professor of History and Mission at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The truth that he shares with readers is about race’s place in the church in America.
While I don’t want to spoil the book, I thought that I would offer some teasers, a few quotes from his work that would challenge us to think more clearly and to pursue truth more passionately. Dr. Evans writes:
- “Race in American churches is not a neutral issue.”
- “Race matters in US Christianity.”
- “The stained- glass windows of churches often reflect the expectations of the dominant society in which they exist.”
- “The racism that exists in churches is deeper than outward appearances.”
- “Racial arrangements, while visible and audible, in the architecture and artistry of images and hymns were only outward expressions of deeply held beliefs and practices.”
- “Is the Christian religion, with its rituals and beliefs, powerful enough to root out the fear and violence of racism in its churches?”
- “Future ministers and church members cannot afford to pretend that the religion of US Christianity is pure and undefiled from systemic evil or that racism only exists in some white supremacist congregations.”
- “The foundations of US Christianity were constructed with the same tools and materials that made the US a white supremacist nation.”
I pray that his words help us to look more closely at the ways in which we practice our faith and to examine the traditions that we share and pass down to each generation. Have a race-less day!