Barna Reports “Racial Divides in Spiritual Practice”

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“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’ clock on Sunday morning.”

{Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.}

Last month, Barna released a report on the differences in spiritual progress according to the social construct of race.  I had planned to discuss this sooner but was distracted, namely by the protests after our most recent presidential election among other things.  Still, the question is timely as I had no answer then and I do not know the answer now: “Why do lingering divisions exist in the Church, the very communities built on the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation?”  Why can’t we practice what we profess?  What prevents us from forgiving and coming together?  Why do we practice self- imposed segregation as it is no longer the law of the land?  Christ stretched his hands out on a cross to save us from our sins but we cannot extend our hand out to greet a new neighbor who may be from a different socioeconomic background or culture.

As the country reels and rocks after ICE raids of undocumented immigrants lead to more protests, the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries along with false bomb threats to their houses of worship, I am looking for stability in a sacred space.  But, I cannot find it there as there are new reports that the majority of socially colored white evangelicals support the ban issued by President Trump.  How do they interpret the Bible’s call that we welcome the stranger?  “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23.9, NIV).  But, if you do not see yourself as a foreigner or have never been a position of oppression then this may be hard to understand.

More than the numbers, I am concerned about the names, the stories and the reasons for which this report is true.  Reading the same Bible, I understand that due to our experiences, education and personal expectations we will not always agree on its interpretation or personal application.  But, when there are expressed commandments and callings for the ministry of reconciliation, how do we say no or ignore it?

While culture may explain the differences in our worship style, it does nothing to make sense of our segregation.  Called the Body of Christ, we are dismembered in our gathering as beige, brown, black, red, yellow and white churches.  What will it take to bring us together?

Click here to read the full report.

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