My late dad was a pianist at the Lutheran Church, so I spent most of my childhood in church. Arriving at church an hour early on Sundays was a routine for me so that my dad could prepare for his work.
I got my primary education in a Catholic school for seven years and went to a Lutheran Seminary boarding school for my secondary education.
Living my early life mainly in a church environment and teachings, I believe I earned the title of theologist. People who personally know me are aware of my struggle to correct the false doctrines rampant in churches these days.
Like any other field of life, the prevailing racist practices in modern-day churches have undermined the church concept these days.
I have faced racism in churches as well; that was the last thing I would expect.
Upon inquiring further, I concluded that white Christians are the worst perpetrators of racism in society these days, as they back their claims with the Bible.
How did I face betrayal at church by “white moderates?”
On one fine Sunday, following my routine, I went to a Lutheran Church in Rogers, Minnesota, arriving half an hour earlier than the service starting time with my ten-year-old son.
As we were the first ones in the church, pews were empty, so we sat on a middle bench with my son, waiting for the start of service.
After some time, the congregation started entering the church, occupying different benches. Ironically, everyone was avoiding our bench, presumably as we had Black color.
When an innocent kid, free from racial malice, tried to sit with us, his parents pulled him away to a different bench. Not surprisingly, Rogers, Minnesota, has 99% of its population white people, so the church’s concentration was also heavily composed of white Christians.
Seeing the unfolding event of racism specifically demonstrated against people of color in church, I was shocked, and my son was even more alarmed.
I did not want my son to experience this racism again in the church, so I started to shop for a new church. After doing my research, I found a church named “Speak the Word Church International”, where the pastors were black and white, husband and wife, and the congregation was of mixed races.
I thought this one would be an anti-racist church, so we started attending it as our local church.
Meanwhile, the pastors divorced, and the husband stayed with the church while the wife started her own church.
This divorce affected the racial unity of the church as well, and white people started changing their church.
As the white preacher was gone, white people started attending another church named “Living World Christian Center”, so I decided to visit that church myself.
When I visited that, I saw many familiar white faces who were with us at the previous church.
During the service, the white pastor promoted Trump in the church, which was shocking for me, considering the bigotry he often portrays against Black people.
In this church, such a man was promoted who hates foreigners and separates children from their families.
Wearing my theologist hat, for Christians, if you have a bible app, you can type the word “foreigner” and see how many times it appears in the whole book, and what it says. I will mention one such verse here, which says,
“The community is to have the same rules for you and the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord.”
During his imprisonment in the Birmingham jail, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter to the church clergymen, calling them “white moderates.” According to him, they are worse than the KKK, because at least KKK is open in their approach, and they don’t have any clandestine ambitions.
However, during this time of church hypocrisy, “white moderates,” from clergymen to the congregation, are just the puppet of racism trying to use the church as their cover.
As these experiences were not enough to portray the notion of church hypocrisy, I felt the other colors of “white moderates” as well.
I usually attend an annual Gospel Music Festival in Minnesota called “Joyful Noise,” due to my preference for hard rock music, as my favorite band is Switchfoot.
In a concert, there are usually two types of VIP tickets. VIP guests typically have their own line and usually enter one hour earlier than the standard ticketholder.
We usually come with our beach chairs, so while setting up my chair to sit in a VIP line, a white lady came to me and said, “Your line is not here; you are supposed to be on the other side, where there is a standard line.” I inquired of her the reason for the comment, for which she told me she didn’t want me to waste my time.
Because of my color, she automatically assumed that I could not buy VIP tickets because they are expensive, and people of color are supposed to be poor.
We even had the same color of wristbands, which indicated I am VIP as well, so she didn’t see that color. She just noticed my skin color and launched her racist attack.
The Pervasive Racism of White Christians: Not a new phenomenon
Over the years, white Christians have shaped their behavior in the worst possible racist way. The problem worsens when they deny this racism is being perpetrated by themselves.
Many times, they even end up defending it. The interesting thing is that no specific sect can be singled out in this regard. Be it the white Evangelicals, or Protestants, or Catholics, all of them show the same pattern, which is evident from the data.
For instance, according to the survey conducted by PRRI, white Christians are more likely to think in favor of police brutality against African Americans compared to non-religious whites.
Not only this but more white Christians than non-religious people think that monuments to confederate soldiers were given as pride rather than to celebrate racism.
Then comes the white Christian’s attitude toward racial apathy in jobs, as they do not believe that Black people face any discrimination to move up the ladder of social mobility.
This is not a phenomenon that has just happened overnight. Instead, this pervasive discrimination is embedded within the very roots of white Christianity, as nearly all the sects unilaterally agree and support it.
Ironically, many white Christians even deny that the churches’ persisting racism these days exists. When asked, most of them say that the data is being collected from people who are “Christians in name only.”
Perhaps, it is time for retrospection so that racism could be tackled in a better way.
The prevalence of racial prejudice in white Christians these days is endangering all other communities, especially the Black ones.
The hypocrisy is so intense that they often try to defend it with the Bible, which leaves most people silent.
Since I am a theologian, I know how these “white moderates” are destroying the church’s sanctity, defending their cruelty with the Bible.
If they continue defending it with the Bible, it is probably time for the 14th Amendment in the Bible as well.