Everything I Know About Racism I Learned From the Church

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The evangelical church has a serious credibility problem with people who’ve been targeted by its racism.

Editor’s Note: The author’s experiences within the church can be painful and difficult to read about. However, we believe these are reflections the Church needs to hear. Please take time to read and process the author’s story. Before reacting too quickly, we encourage you to listen and reflect upon the implications this might have for your ministry context.

Every summer, my mom would sign us up for vacation bible school (VBS) programs at local churches so we could experience God in diverse settings. The summer I turned six, we attended VBS at an all-white church in a neighboring city. During recess, my brother and I were so engrossed in our tetherball game that we didn’t hear the teacher calling us to return to the classroom. 

Exasperated, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Get in here, n*ggers!!”

Being six and all, I had no idea what the word n*gger meant; I just knew that it referred to me and that it was negative.

I ducked my head in shame and ran toward the classroom. The teacher’s words violently contradicted the VBS theme “God loves all the children in the world,” and made me question whether God’s love was meant for me too.

The church taught me that God’s love is only for the white kids.

When I Learned that All Black People Rap.

Many people recall junior high as a dark and stormy stage in their identity development timeline. But as one of two black girls in my class at my Christian school, I had the unenviable task of figuring out who I was and where I belonged while surrounded by a sea of white classmates who only interacted with me long enough to ask to touch my hair.

Feeling different and excluded, I signed up for choir class, hoping to find a place to belong.

That year, the Christmas musical script unironically called for a “Rapping Angel” who rapped Luke 2:14.

Without holding auditions for the part, our choir director (with obvious support from my classmates) cast me as the rapping angel, saying, “You can do it, right Christena?”

Nope, I couldn’t.

MC Hammer, I was not.

But since I did not fit in with my classmates, I was desperate to prove that I belonged to another relevant social group—namely, black people. So I went along with our director’s decision and now have the distinction of being the most woefully miscast Rapping Angel in the history of cheesy Christmas musicals.

The church taught me that I belong nowhere—not even in the tiny stereotypical box that they tried to stuff me into.

Christena Cleveland Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist with a hopeful passion for overcoming cultural divisions in groups. Drawing from a vast body of research, she uncovers the underlying processes that affect relationships within and between groups and helps leaders understand how to promote an appreciation for diversity and build effective collaborations with diverse groups. She recently completed her first book Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart.

More from Christena Cleveland or visit Christena at http://www.christenacleveland.com

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  • Chad Martens

    Excellent article! Although I am white, I have seen this racism as well in the church h, even so far as to have our “leadership” at a church I was youth pastor in outside of Chicago tell me “we don’t want or need those types of people in our church (meaning blacks and Hispanics)”. Fortunately we parted ways soon after!

  • David Le Maungo Mnjama

    I’d really like to put a global spin on this article. I am a Kenyan. In Kenya we have more than 40 tribes, each with its own tongue. You will be amazed how sincere Christians treat other Christians differently, simply because the culture is different. It gets worse. As a global citizen , I have witnessed first hand how the financially elite Christians look down on the lower middle class. Question is: WHAT IS IT ABOUT OUR FAITH AS WE KNOW IT THAT ENCOURAGES THE SIN OF SEPARATION?

  • Simon D

    Thanks for your thoughts, it helps. Your making a difference with your experience, pov, approach and style. Stay with it.

  • Brenda Colbert

    Hello; I am white and not only do I believe that racism still is present in the church I also know great discord and hypocrisy exists in the church. It presents itself in the way that church members treat others through gossip and by doing act of backstabbing towards other who never did anything to them if for no other reason than for envy, etc. It has made me feel so bad at times that I would either get up and walk out and walk home or I would not attend at all. I would get noting out of the service because of this and it is pointless if such discord is bringing you down spiritually. It is a shame to know that such general discord exists and I can only imagine what the Lord thinks about it.

  • ugo

    To experience a world of love where there is no racism, look for and join any Redeemed Christian Church of God nearest to you and you will be fulfilled

  • Chuck Sligh

    Christena, thanks for sharing this. As a white pastor of an English-speaking, 90% U.S. military, church in Germany, we have sought to change the perception of racism in our churches. I’ll be honest with you, this issue is easier to deal with in a military community like ours where open racism is not tolerated, on or off the job. So it’s hard for whites like myself to hear these things when so many people like me hate racism and reject the past racism in our churches. Because we personally take these stands, and gather like-minded people around us, we assume other white America have truly put racism behind us, and thus it’s hard for us to imagine the things you described (they broke my heart as I read your piece). And yet every African-American in my church will tell me similar stories if I ask them. None has not experienced the sting of racism, sometimes, sadly, even among Christians. I’m just glad that they never say it has happened in OUR church.

    Why you haven’t turned away from the church is a miracle of God’s grace. I hope you can keep your eyes on God and continue show grace. We need people like you IN the body of Christ constantly reminding us to be consistent with the message we preach and not to let the world mold or regionalism or our background define how we view and treat others. This is a many-generational battle that may never see enough progress until the Lord comes; but if He tarries, maybe the day will come when racism in the church is truly a thing of the past. I can only hope.

    God bless. And keep your eyes on Jesus!

  • Joe McKeever

    I am so sorry, Christena. Some of us albinos have our own stories similar to yours. In the 1950s, my wife held the door at church for the Negro maid,and was rebuked by a white lady for doing that. So subtle, but so unforgettable. I pastored in the turbulent 60s and have more stories to tell than you have time to listen. Thanks for sharing this. God bless you in every way, and God help us to do this “loving our neighbor as ourselves” thing right.

  • Just lucky or blessed?

    I must have lived a sheltered life. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like any of this, Red & yellow, black & white – all present & valued at every church I’ve been involved in as I’ve lived in 4 different cities in 2 states since college graduation. All the churches have been Free Methodist… coincidence ? Probably not.

    • Felecia Studstill

      I guess I’d have to ask if you are a minority. I think the point of the article is that often those who aren’t oppressed are oblivious to the oppressions that exist.

  • alhatesreligion

    This indeed is a great article and I commend Christena for not falling away from the faith because of it’s poor representation of ambassadors. Unfortunately this separatist attitude exists in churches of all kinds-Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. Ignorance knows no boundaries. We all have a tendency to worship with our “own” and when someone different comes along we act as if we don’t know what to do. So how can we combat this stupidity? Well, since we claim to be people of the BIBLE, let’s take our cue from what it says in Galatians 3:28-There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females. You are all the same in Christ Jesus. Now how hard is that? There is no need for a commentary search, a systematic study nor do you need to take a seminary class. Simply put-In Christ we are all the same.

  • Ian W. Taylor

    Hi Christena,
    Thanks for sharing your story. While living in the land of my birth, I heard stories of racism even in churches here in the USA. Interestingly, when my family arrived we were welcomed by our first church family in Madison Heights, MI. We were, as far as I am aware, the second non-Caucasian family in that church. I cannot tell you how much the love shown by those saints including the pastor helped my children in particular with their transition to a new/foreign country. When we relocated to Florida, two of my sons lived with the pastor for varying periods and were accepted as a part of his family.
    Our experience in Florida (Riverview) was no different. Initially, we were the third non-Caucasian family in the church. Today, I serve on staff in the same church in a teaching/preaching role. Our church has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. by the grace of God. We now have over 30 different nationalities who fellowship together, meet in discipleship groups or just hangout together by the grace of God. So, yes there is active racism in some churches, however, many churches have chosen to integrate and embrace all peoples, nationalities and cultures also generations. Our senior pastor publicly preaches that all people are accepted on the same condition – the Blood of Jesus Christ – in our church.

  • Tejado W. Hanchell

    Powerful article – thank you for sharing your pain so that we can make progress. Far too many summarily reject articles like this and experiences like yours because they are not their experiences. Racism (along with classism, sexism, etc) is real, and it gains power in darkness. We must shine the light of Christ on these hideous expressions of human nature so that we can truly reflect His nature in our lives and in our churches.

  • Joe Rhoads

    Christena, thank you for the article. However, I am NOT surprised that you have not wandered away from the faith. Just because you have faced unbelievable stupidity from people who are or claim to be Christians, you have a genuine faith in Christ that obviously cannot be thwarted by the sins of others directed at you. You are an overcomer and a spiritually mature young woman, seen in your ability to wisely rebuke the sins of racism in the church in a Christlike manner. May God continue to bless you.

  • Brian

    Great comments so far, everyone. I think it says quite a bit about the problems we do face regarding race in the church when people come to a story like this expecting to read a scathing critique…

  • Derwin L. Gray

    Thank you.

  • Algoria

    I’m sorry that you had these experiences, Christena. Racism is a sin whether it’s in the church or in the world. It’s a common human failing to discriminate against those who are different. It’s something that needs to be overcome through the love of Christ like any form of prejudice or hatred.

    In Rwanda in 1994 for example, the Hutus killed almost a million Tutsis in an attempt to destroy them all, even though they were just a slightly different ethnic group. During WW2 the Germans killed millions of Jews who again were only slightly different from themselves. In another genocide already forgotten by many, the Turks murdered around a million of their Armenian neighbors less than a hundred years ago.

    In many ways this world is a bad place, but the message of Christ can make a huge difference if we heed it. That we are all one in Christ needs to be taught by the leaders of the Church to help those who are being excluded as well as those committing the sin of racism. The church I attend has people from many different cultures and I think people of other ethnic groups can tell they are not looked down on there, partly due to the influence of its pastors.

    It’s shameful that Christians of all races, black as well as white, have so often failed to love their neighbors. (This was made worse in North America by the segregation laws based on the idea that whites were superior.) I hope you have also had some positive experiences and not just negative ones in relating with Christians of other races. Perhaps this has already helped you to be healed from some of the hurts you have received.

  • Tom

    Great article Christena. However, I think that what frustrates me about these articles is the implication that white people are the only ones who exhibit racist tendencies. In the early 90’s, I was hired as the music director at a predominately black church (I am caucasian). Until that time, I had never experienced racism against me. I don’t tend to look at color as a determining factor for my behavior towards others, but I cannot say the same about my darker than white brothers and sisters at that church. The comments about the “white music”, the talking among other people that stopped when I entered the room, the ostracism from the black community… Unfortunately, your story is all too common in the church. Also unfortunately, the racism is not limited to only being exhibited by white people. I am now part of a culturally diverse church that seeks to purposely diversify our music, ministry and culture to attract people from different cultural backgrounds.

    • Brian

      I think it has to do with the inability (or lack of desire) to put ourselves in the other sides shoes. Even with the Travon Martin case, BOTH sides were claiming either it was racism, or nothing of the sort. What if NEITHER side was right or wrong, and it was only a matter of perspective? Reality is, most black people (of which I am not one) have grown up facing all types of racism, either outright or implicit, every day. I can’t fathom their experience, or fully understand where they are coming from. But I’m also not going to ploclaim “THAT’S NOT RACIST!” just because I see it that way. It may or may not be. But one thing is for sure….the black community sees it as such. And there’s a reason for that.
      If both sides would attempt to see things as less “black and white” (pun intended), I think we’d be a LOT closer to the goal we all seek. Becuase for MOST people, they don’t try to be racist, and they don’t want to be. But it requires understanding…..

    • amos8

      I, too, applaud any person/article addressing racism. But the thing is, in order to decrease or defeat racism we must address/confront ALL racism, not just racism toward one race. That is where articles like this fall short, they can even make it worse … IF they/we don’t confront all such sinful behavior.

      It is not just one “color” that is the problem (and this article address JUST ONE), it is the human heart … UNIVERSALLY. WE … all of us … tend to, because the nature of our hearts–NOT THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN–make false judgments of others, and mistreat them for a variety of reasons, skin color only being one of them (e.g. other aspects of appearance; education; intelligence; religion; how they talk; how tall they are; the size of their ______ (ears, nose…); etc).

      Whenever we merely address or judge on appearances–especially in just one direction or of one group we are making things FAR WORSE and even, perhaps, guilty of what we say we are against!

      Let’s be against all “racism” or “prejudice” or “hate” … not just part of these.

      “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly..” Jesus

  • Teretha Thornton

    Christina I thank you so much for your article. This may be why the body of Christ is so stunted. Do they not realize that heaven is not segregated? During the summer I would take my grands and any other child who wanted to go to different VBS. One day I was sitting out waiting on them to get out and a young black man walked up and asked me “how he could go in the church because he needed prayer for his son?” He said he asked a lady and she had been very rude to him.” Don’t they like blacks?” was his next question. I am black. I told him I could and would pray with him. I did. I never tool another child back to that church.

  • Ronald Johnson

    I served a church in which people wanted to break down racial barriers. Several members asked, “Why don’t we ever have any black people in our parish?” I pointed out that there were actually two members in the parish who were black. I usually got the, “Oh yeah, I always forget they are black,” response. Then I would ask when was the last time they visited the AME Church down the street, or the COGIC church a couple miles away. If they had ever visited, it was for a funeral. The people at my parish were good people, who really wanted to do the right thing in the abstract. They just did not understand that their ideas about what they might do were rather patronizing.

  • Sal

    The church is full of racists, hypocrites, and sinners. When you are done bashing the church, come join us. We all need prayer and forgiveness.

    • Shirley

      I am sick of the church bashing. I am also sick of the talk about race and the Bible does not talk about race it talks about nations. We need to stop causing this hate because we want to continue talking about race when we need to forget the past and move forward but no we just continue to bash the church. I am so sick of this type of talk. Get saved!

      • Twinsfan1

        Shirley – you’re questioning her salvation because she identifies racism in the church and how sinful it is? Wow. Not sure I’m ready to say I’m God and know she’s not saved.

    • Twinsfan1

      Sal, if she was simply bashing the church, she wouldn’t have repeatedly affirmed her love and involvement in it. She is stating a sad and sinful reality within the church that needs to be identified and rooted out.

  • FriendOfGOD

    As unfortunate & unbiblical as your experiences were, they come as no surprise. May we (God’s body with Jesus’ blood covering us all) not only recite, but one day truly embrace & live out John 13:34-35…”A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” And when we don’t live out this commandment, do we run the risk of Matthew 7:21-23 being fulfilled in our lives?

  • http://c-mog.blogspot.com/ Drae

    I’m sorry for your painful experiences. The greatest thing about your story/testimony is that as it says in the story of Joseph and his brothers “What you meant for evil God meant for good..”. And I do believe that even in your pain the Lord is using you to help put a light on an issue no matter what race feels discriminated. The fact remains that the body of believers need to start looking at things differently. We are called to be a peculiar people. God’s precious jewel. We are called to be ambassadors of heaven not of your home address not of just your church home. We are called to represent the kingdom of Heaven. I was reading my bible and there is a text that the Spirit seemed to open my eyes to. It was in the book of Matthew and Jesus asked Peter who do you say that I am and Peter responded. And Jesus said I will give you power to loose and bound things on earth. But Jesus said whatsoever you loose on earth must first also be loosed in heaven and whatsoever you bind on earth must also be first bound in heaven. And what the Lord revealed to me just in that text alone is that Heaven doesn’t play by the rules. Who’s rules you may ask? Americas rules, the church house rules, and mans rules. Heaven only plays by God’s rules alone. Heaven is not some better USA. It will not play by your church house rules, but only God’s. It will not play by mans rules of what they think should and should not be accepted in terms of “good people”. So the thing is if that is the case then we had better learn to play by God’s rules now because if we think we are going to keep that same mindset we have now here on earth in heaven we are sorely mistaken. God cares way to much to allow our false precepts interfere with His paradise for all.

  • Guest

    Thoughtful. Painful. Penetrating. Thank you!

  • wow

    I do believe sadly one of the least understood verses in the kingdom is the fact of the new creation in Christ and the family concept.1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.Galatians 3:28 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. So many times prejudice and cultural diversity is perpetuated from generation to generation by ministers themselves right from the pulpit. I do not believe in any way this is pleasing to God. Or as Paul wrote in eph One Body One Lord and One Spirit and where strife division and envy are it opens the door to evil things.

  • Sakhiwo Ntshiqa

    Wow…this is sad especially in the church of Christ. Thank you for sharing this and may God continue to use bold people like you to voice out and challenge the pastors and leaders who are still encouraging this ungodly behaviour. God bless you!

  • Gary Haist

    Good article. Is it possible that you experienced the racism in the church because you were the one penetrating the culture and you were the answer at the same time? I know that as a white male living and worshipping in predominantly white surroundings I experience very little racism. But when I was in the Navy, or when I travelled, or was in the inner city, or when I entered another culture, that was when I experienced racism. I have tried to reach out at our church to become more interracial but I think we need more feedback from people willing to penetrate other cultures because not much changes.

  • Shirley

    SUCH A LIE!

    • amos8

      Why “SUCH A LIE!”? Please explain

  • amos8

    I’m so sorry the author (and many others) have had such painful, unnecessary, experiences like these. These are terrible. I would love to have a conversation with those people, now or through a time machine, in order to get at what, exactly, they were thinking.

    But I’m also grieved that articles like these–which have great points, great potential for teaching and making changes–fail to make clear distinctions and so undermine their (presumed) intended purpose.

    One reason why racism exists and persists–and perhaps all “discrimination–is the generalizing and stereotyping of an entire group of people: “All Asians are _______.” “You know how white people think.” “Black people _______.” “_______ people are stingy.” “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” (Ti 1:12)

    In this article, the author repeatedly says, “The church taught me …” She even said, “The church taught me that I belong nowhere—not even in the tiny stereotypical box that they tried to stuff me into.”

    On one hand she (rightly) condemned the “All black people rap” stereotyping of her, yet she fails to see that she is trying to “stuff” the Bride into “the tiny STEREOTYPICAL box.”! If we do not stand against all stereotyping, ALL racism, then how can we bring about any real change?

    It would have been very easy to say, “Some Christians taught me …” or “In this one church a group of people taught me …” or “This one leader in this church …” Why did she feel it necessary to cast aspersions on “The church”? Are we not to revere the Bride of Christ (imperfect as she is)? I might be in the minority (no pun) but I am deeply bothered by the repeated “The church taught me … (such and such about racism)” … not to mention the title of the article itself.

    So, it seems this article, wittingly or not, is guilty of what it portends to expose and condemn.

    Also, she repeats: “I learned that…” Well, what I often learn from many people here and from some of these articles is that those who dare challenge any problems, especially in sensitive areas like race, politics, homosexuality–or dare fill in more of the picture–are blamed for doing so. Let’s learn something different this time. Let’s be accurate with responsibility, not just cast out blanket accusations and give summary judgments of entire groups of people.

    • beachpreacher

      amos8 I actually agree with you this time. I don’t know what Shirley’s issue is and evidently she doesn’t either. Anyway, by definition, racism is the thought or belief that one race is superior to or better than another race. I feel sure that not all the people in the churches where the writer experienced racist actions treated her the same way and yet she has grouped the whole Church into a particular mold. This is not helping the problem. It seems that a true desire to fix the problem would involve identifying the individuals guilty of the sin, not lumping all into one identity. Not all white Christians act like the racist jerks the writer experienced.

  • TrthEtrn

    Well, as the only white student at an all Black seminary – the training ground “chuch” for ministers, I experienced extreme racism for being white. It is where I learned in one class, that no matter how well I did, the professor would not give me more than an A-, just so I could not graduate with a 4.0. It is where I learned than being white meant I did not qualify for any achievement scholarships, even though I had the highest GPA. It is where I learned that ALL white people cannot ever be trusted. I learned that ALL white people discriminate against ALL black people. It was where I learned that any white person who voted for George W. Bush was of the devil. None of the black people where, they were just “tricked by the white man.” Yes, those are all real.There is great hypocrisy in the church. It, however, is not isolated to one race. RACISM RUNS ACROSS MANY RACES… My sadness is that over and over and over we hear only one side of racism and yet the Sunday worship hour is the most segregated time of the week… Not just by Whites, but by Blacks, Hispanics, Koreans, Brazilians… I don’t see much mixing and matching happening between any of the races on Sunday morning.

    • Spacesong12

      Thank you for sharing. I wish your experience had been different. It bears a strong resemblance to my experiences working at an all-black school. Try sitting through PTA listening to that drivel, without losing your cool.

  • Brian

    Racism is such a subjectine issue. I’m sure those white Christian’s in this article, at least for the most part, weren’t deliberately trying to appear racist. And likewise, I doubt most of the people described in the comments from black universities/churches meant to be racist either.
    What someone considers racism is largely dependent on their upbringing and cultural life experiences. We would do well to try and understand exactly where the other person is coming from before we assume someone is being racist, or has a racist attitude/motives. Even if it seems like it to you, it may be the furthest thing from the truth.

    • veekeebee

      There is absolutely no excuse for “Christians” or Christian organizations to mock, ridicule, use racial slurs or treat anyone with disrespect. We learn in the first book of the Bible, in the first chapter that we are made in the image of God – all of us. And for that reason alone, every person is worthy of respect. Over and over again, god’s Word shows what He values. No one is devalued by Him on color/race. This fact cannot be missed. It is simply ignored. And as long as leaders don’t have the courage to confront it and speak the truth, they are enabling the continued growth of it. Making excuses doesn’t help either. If they’ve read and they’ve studied as they should have done already, as teachers, preachers and leaders – this is a very basic/foundational principle. True Christianity is a heart change – a transformation. To devalue another human being is an indication that the heart hasn’t yet been transformed. To make excuses for these people or to justify their behavior means you are in the same boat but maybe on a different side. God can change our hearts. I know this personally – on this issue.

  • Cherish Pereira

    I have to say, after reading this article… I do agree that racism still exists. But, it’s not just toward the black ethnicity. There is also a large and growing latin community in the churches, and they have suffered racism as well. We as the church have to stop seeing anyone as being different, and let the Holy Spirit become more powerful than our culture. I personally am a mix of European & Latin and I have grown up in a few different cultures, in the church and community. I can say that I was treated differently by the black people in some churches in one city, while in yet another city, they loved and accepted me. Culture is powerful! But God is more powerful, if we will truly let His power overcome us and work through us. We have to stop pointing the finger at each other, and start recognizing that the accuser of the brothers is out to deceive us all and bring strife and division. Jesus help us all!!!!

    • amos8

      “Culture is powerful!”Amen!

      This is really not about race, it is about culture–about a mindset that people buy into in their hearts. It is not about the color of skin (yet many still insist on this), it is about what you are taught, what you choose to believe, and how you value God, His Word, His love, and those that He created.

      So, “Racism” is not so much about “race” but the culture that we buy into, or reject–all in the light of the truth and grace of God.

      Ironically, the “culture” of many (but not all) will not allow them to acknowledge certain truths, or give grace. That is why growth is halted–if not reversed–in regards to “race relations.”

  • Vincent Aja

    This issue is not about culture, we are discussing something very important here. It is not something anybody could defend while using culture as an excuse; this is true because Christianity is Superior to any culture. But one thing is so certain, with that I want to ask, since the word GRACE is pouring out from everybody`s mouth. Can someone who hates his neighbors ever make it to heaven? (1Corinthians 13). I have said before that this is not about culture because every professed Christian must know that Christianity is Superior to any culture. However, let me say that every ethnicity has developed their own theology which was far low behind what Christianity is all about and that is why somebody with the Bible is hand whether Black or White could be using culture as an excuse….. Here is what has been going on in the name of Christianity: The White people in America have developed their theology known as the “Social Gospel” since the 1930s. The Blacks in America have developed their theology which is known as “Economic Empowerment” this theology is based on their economic and political views…. And the Latinos have developed their very theology known as the “Theology of Liberation.” Most Whites who have freed themselves from theology and denominationalism/sectarianism were doing better in their serving the Lord, and they are color blind. Some Blacks who have known that Salvation has nothing to do with politics and economy have no business with the false theology that the wealthy Blacks were propagating everywhere their voices could be heard. The Latinos which were in between will as well know better as time goes on because Christianity has offered every race that Deliverance, Liberation and Freedom if someone will diligently be walking with the Hope of Israel in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24)(Hebrews 11:6).

    • linda

      Wonderfully stated

  • John

    Blacks are a minority in our city of 500,000 yet our church has been robbed only by blacks. Black men cause the most fist fights and cursing during service. We’ve even had young black teens threaten (jokingly or not) to rape at our church.

    No other race of people cause us these kinds of problems. The parents couldnt care less most of the time.

    We keep trying to reach out and love as much as possible, but nothing has worked for them yet. Meanwhile everyone else (whites, asian, indians) are doing amazingly well. The blacks here are just as well educated and wealthy as the rest of us, they live in the same giant houses.

    We reached out to some black pastors in the area, they are suffering the same problems from young black men. So what do we do?

    It’s not just you, we are victims to!

    May God bless you and heal you of your pain and suffering.

  • Scott

    I’m sorry for your painful experiences. I appreciate you sharing and still staying with the church in spite of these experiences. I know we serve a mighty and loving God whose heart breaks when Christians attack His creation. May God forgive us and strengthen us to “sin no more.”

  • mkdb

    “Everything I Know About Racism I Learned From the Church”???

    How well would it go over if someone wrote an article titled, “Everything I Know About _______ (fill in … “Hate,” Lying, “Coercion,” etc) I Learned From _______ (fill in … LBGT, Muslims, Liberals, Bostonians, etc)”?

    Why is it okay to bash “the Church”?

    • linda

      It is not bashing. It was thoughtful and respectful, I can understand how uncomfortable it is to hear but we can not hide these things, God is faithful to bring healing when confess our pain openly.

      • mkdb

        Yes, let’s confess ALL of it, not just directing it toward one person/group. That is hyper-dysfunctional, and which keeps this whole problem perpetuating and increasing. Even in your comments you, at a minimum, imply that it is uncomfortable for others, or that others are wanting to hide this. Please speak to all of this, not just make subtle accusations. And, yes, this is bashing the church, and yes, it is a generalized blame toward one group of people. Accuracy is not only important, it is ABSOLUTELY required for what you are stating that you want. So I’m not sure why you do not see this.

  • Scott Moore

    Let”s get excited, the tower of Babel is being united,

    take Christ off the shelf and love our neighbor as our self.
    God’s love is deep, God’s love is wide,
    Love should unite us, not divide.

    It is true that there is racism and prejudices everywhere we look; from churches, to super markets,to neighborhoods, in schools and in groups of people. it is a very deep topic and one that is being exposed, may God’s light expose it and destroy it in His truth.

    You’re so right in the identity part of the article, and I do think sometimes we Christians try and squeeze people into a stereotypical mold of what a Christian should look like even down to the way one dresses.
    I feel a little of your pain as I am reminded of the way I felt as an ex-drug addict coming into the church and people not knowing how to help me or where to place me, but it all worked out for the good.

    May we as the church change the culture and not let the culture change us, and let not neighborhoods divide us as God’s Spirit guides us.

  • Ted Blair

    Thank you!

  • disqus_PgdLd0QQyA

    Wow……this brings back some memories…..I always thought I was white. I can remember as a young boy…my sister and I were very dark complected, I lived somewhat segregated community. The people used to call us N words, and did not want me to swim in the neighborhood pool.
    I no longer believe in races of people. This was an invented caste
    system developed by the ruling class to keep people separated and
    divided. We are all descended from dark complected people…one race one blood.

  • Joyspring

    By some of the responses you get here I’m sure you can agree that it’s not the’church’ or the’whites’ that did this but some church members who were white. I guess that’s the struggle we have in society to love our neighbour and not judge. What you went through is real. As an Indian in a predominantly Chinese culture I have gone through the same but some of my best friends, most of whom I would consider family are Chinese. So when I talk about racism I too have to be carful not to generalize. Even with that I have some of my Chinese friends apologizing for the way I was treated. Having so many Chinese friends that I love I have been able to understand their culture and why they think the way they do too and know that sometimes it’s not racism but ignorance. I think we are all guilty of that. I pray that racism will be a thing of the past in the church. As someone once said ‘there is only one race and that’s the human race’.

  • Doug W

    I appreciate the honesty of this article and am reminded that sometimes even our curriculum itself can promote a tacit racism.
    I remember leading a time with children during a Wednesday evening activity in which we made bracelets using different color beads that each represented certain spiritual truths (e.g. red=blood of Jesus, white=forgiven sins, etc).
    Without even thinking or realizing it, we came to the black color bead…which represented sin and evil in the exercise. I will never forget the look on the face of a sweet African-American girl and realized, with horror, that she had been sinned against by myself and others.
    It was a hard lesson learned (I never saw her again) and I can only hope and pray that this did not scar her for life.
    God forgive us in our ignorance.

  • Chris

    Hi Christina, thank you for the thought provoking article. I am a South African and amazed that this problem of racism is such a problem in America, given the fact that American government boycotted S.A. during the apartheid years. Actually as many white South Africans have been coming to terms with the terrible legacy of segregation after democratic elections, the Church has really moved forward and I see a better understanding of Christian love and acceptance of one another. Yes the media and some “Christian” extremists are still living in a false sense of suppression and oppression, but overall i have noticed in many Churches the representation of many cultures worshiping and sharing together, not only in the Church service, but in the home groups.We have a long way to go yet it seems that given the history of America, Churches in other countries are ahead when it comes to forgiveness and restitution. There is no excuse based on the scriptures for any born again believer to be racist. God has clearly shown us that in Christ we are one and even our ethnic differences should not be an issue. My wife is from the Philippines and we are very happy together, now residing in the UAE, where in every Church so many different nationalities worship and frankly this reminds me of what heaven will be like. To root racism out we need to understand that it begins with true repentance, that destroys pride. No race is more superior to the other, let us love as Christ loved and be genuine not artificial as so many of us tend to be. It is sad that Christina had to experience so much negativity, just like so many of my Asian and friends of color in South Africa, but I praise God for His marvelous grace that liberates each of us from such sin. South Africa would have been a better place if I had grown up without apartheid, but praise God for what He has done as the transition was smoother than everyone expected. Yes there is still a great task ahead for the Church, let us embrace it with the attitude of Christ. He left the throne room of heaven, became a man, and gave Himself willingly so that we could have eternal life. God bless you all.

    • Pray Forme

      Chris: Yeah this used to be happen sometimes not in america but in all over the world christian communities. We need to be clear in How Jesus gave us the example of Jews and Gentiles. I think Racism is not only about Caste, culture, B&W but it could be in many ways. We must neglect it and dont allow inside Church and Inside our Beliefs. I agree with you. Anyway how i can be your friend on facebook. :)

  • Katherine E. Robinson

    Christina, I read you but I must say that as a minister, social activist, mother, grandmother, legal analyst, and historian of the african experience, it is important that you do not let someone else definition of you actually define you. God is not a respecter of persons, but he is a respecter of positions. As with my clients who are on probation, I dont call them to cultural surrender by teaching and preaching diversity so much. We have been overdosed with other people’s culture to the point that we think it is our “ministry” to condescend at our expense in favor of making someone’s else group feel good and superior. I WONT EVER DO IT. In high school we were made to feel low because we never read about anything positive about us except slavery. Nationalism is NOT racism. I am African….Ashanti on my father’s side…out of the tribe of Levi….Bamileke on mother’s side….out of the tribe of Issachar which means I am fully Jewish out of the line of Abraham.. I make no apologies to anyone…in church or out. Everyone should see themselves as God sees them…BTW I dont think any of us will ever “preach” racism out of the hearts of others…It is something they must do for themselves. But you can nullify its effects by operating in the spirit of God and of who he made YOU. You only make things WORSE when you spend your time with “Bringing RAces together Conferences” and stupid nonsense like that. Just preach Jesus and let him do whatever. He knows who will be saved and who wont. Please be blessed and hope this helps. I have had some experiences like yours, including being kidnapped by a white man when I was younger, but it led me to study people and their thought patterns. I am confortable in God and culture now and I dont feel obligated to any other culture other than my own. I get along with everyone but I make it too clear…..I DONT WANT TO BE YOU.

  • Randy Jay Rance

    Dear Christina some person that does not know God’s word ;tried to say God is NO respecter of positions? There could be nothing further from the truth. In Acts it specifically says that God is NO respecter of persons. But of every people, nation, and tribe, he/she that. Feareth Him and worketh righteousness is ACCEPTED BY HIM. You wrote an excellent article and forget the negative trash here, you are accepted in the beloved. As you know. Others need to get rid of their horrid prejudice that they hold in their hearts; we are to be like Christ in all things especially loving and respecting all persons created in His image. Love Randy

  • Rod

    Thanks for sharing

  • Spacesong12

    When your grammar improves and you learn proper keyboarding techniques, more people might be inclined to actually read your comment. I made it to the 3rd line and just gave up.